How to move to a new PC (Spoiler: Don't clone)

Tristan asked if he should transfer everything to his new laptop by cloning the old PC's hard drive.

I strongly recommend against cloning the drive on an old PC to a new one. You bring all of your old problems to a new machine. What's more, you create more problems, because every Windows installation is adapted to the particular hardware it was installed on. Finally, you'll have the same Windows license running on two computers (Microsoft doesn't like that) while not using the license you paid for when you bought the new PC.

Sorry to say this, but you need to take the time to move everything over properly. Here's how:

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First, you should get the new computer onto your network. And I don't just mean the Internet. You'll want the two computers to be able to share files. Admittedly, this isn't an absolute necessity, but it makes things much easier.

Next, install all of your programs on the new PC--or at least all the ones you want to keep. Programs that require activation may cause a problem (and yes, they'd cause a problem if you cloned the drive, as well), but it's usually not a big problem. Generally, publishers will let you use their protected software on two computers for a limited period of time. After you uninstall the program from the old PC, you should have little or no trouble activating it on the new one.

When everything is installed, move your data over the network. You could simply drag and drop the content of your libraries from one computer to another over shared folders on the network.

But if you're unsure of where everything should go, use Windows Easy Transfer, which comes with Windows 8 (which I'm assuming came with your new computer). On the new PC, in Windows 8's search charm, type transfer, select Windows Easy Transfer, and follow the wizard.

Keep your old computer around for a couple of months, just to make sure that you didn't miss an important file.

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