About Removable Media

Migrating with Removable Media

The fastest way to migrate your data from one computer to another is to transfer it over a LAN (local area network), but if your computers are not networked you can connect the two PCs with a parallel file transfer cable, with a USB file transfer cable, or you can use removable media.

"Removable media" refers to a transportable drive or disk that can be moved easily from one computer to another. Most computers that run Microsoft Windows include a floppy drive that can read any Windows-formatted floppy disk. Many PCs also include drives that can read and write much larger amounts of data from other types of removable disks. Frequently, these drives can be used with Move Me to perform a migration. 

Types of removable media

In the mid-1990's, Iomega introduced the Zip disk as an alternative to the floppy diskette. The original Zip cartridge held 100 megabytes of data (compared to a floppy disk's measly 1.4 megs) and current models can store 750 megs. If both of your computers can read this format, the inexpensive Zip disk is a good choice for migrating with Move Me's file transfer method.

If your old computer is equipped with a CD burner and you have software installed on it that allows you to write directly to a blank CD-R or CD-RW disk as if it were a floppy disk or hard drive, you can save your data to blank CDs. The new computer must be configured with a CD-ROM drive and any software that might be necessary to read the disks on that computer. For more information, see the documentation that accompanied your CD burner.

Most computers built in the last few years include one or more USB ports and some include an alternative called Firewire (IEEE-1394). These exciting technologies allow data to be transferred at high speeds between computers and peripherals. You can buy USB and Firewire versions of external hard drives, portable music players, digital cameras, and media card readers -- many of which can be used with Move Me.

USB and Firewire devices are "hot swappable", meaning that once the appropriate software is installed on your computer, you can plug and unplug the device without rebooting your computer. Transferring files between computers with a hot swappable external drive is as easy as using floppy disks, except that you can transfer much larger amounts of data very quickly.

External USB and Firewire hard drives with storage capacities of 80 to 250 gigabytes of data can be purchased for about a dollar per gigabyte. Tiny USB "keychain" drives that fit in your shirt pocket are great for moving files between two computers.  You can find keychain drives with 256 megabytes or more of memory for $30.00 and up.

Performing a Migration with removable media

To migrate your data using Zip disks, a portable USB or Firewire drive, or any other type of removable media:

  1. Make sure that the software associated with the device is properly installed on both the old and new computer before you begin the migration. Verify that each machine is able to read the disk/drive as soon as it is plugged into that computer.
  2. During the migration tell Move Me that you want to use the "file transfer method" to transfer your data.
  3. Move Me walks you through the process of copying data from the old computer to the external device and then to the new computer, repeating the steps as many times as necessary to migrate all of your programs, settings, and files.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Transfer Method

Transferring data over a parallel file transfer cable is painfully slow. Once you start the migration, you can go off and do something else while Move Me does its job, but your computer may be tied up for many hours (or even days, if you have many gigabytes of data to transfer). For this reason, parallel transfer is the least desirable migration method. If you cannot use any of the faster data transfer methods, you can purchase one of these inexpensive cables from our online store or from many computer hardware vendors if you do not already own one. 

A USB file transfer cable is more expensive than a parallel transfer cable, but it is also many times faster.  Currently, Move Me supports the Laplink® USB 1.1 File Transfer Cable and the Laplink USB 2.0 File Transfer Cable.  You can purchase either of these cables from our online store (alone or in a package with a migration and CD).  You can also buy a cable directly from Laplink.

If you use some form of removable media with a capacity that is not great enough to hold the entire Move Me moving van (e.g. you are moving 1 gigabyte of data using 100 megabyte Zip disks), you will have to copy data back and forth between the two computers (perhaps multiple times). Even so, the migration is likely to be finished much sooner using almost any kind of removable media other than floppy disks.

As far as the expense involved, USB or Firewire storage devices are more expensive than parallel and USB file transfer cables. After the migration, of course, you will have that hard drive, MP3 player, or other device to use.

If you already own an appropriate cable or some type of external storage, you may want to use what you already have. If not, maybe you are looking for an excuse to buy that cool Firewire hard drive or MP3 player with 40 gigabytes of storage!