How to migrate your data to a new Windows laptop

Apr 15, 2023, 6:30 AM | Updated: 10:01 am

Windows 11 and Windows 10 operating system logos are displayed on laptop screens for illustration p...

Windows 11 and Windows 10 operating system logos are displayed on laptop screens for illustration photo. Krakow, Poland on February 3, 2022. (Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

(Photo by Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Q: I’m getting a new Windows laptop for the first time in a long while and want to make the transition as smooth as possible.

A: I equate getting a new laptop much like moving to a new house; it’s exciting but will require a fair amount of time and effort to get everything set up the way you need it.

A new computer is essentially an empty home that needs to be furnished and decorated and it will take some time to get everything right, so be sure you manage your expectations.

You must decide what of your existing items are to be used in the new ‘home’, what to get rid of, and what new things you want to add.

If you’ve used your old computer for a long period, you’ll discover lots of old data files and programs that you forgot about but may still be important.

Identify What’s Important
Start by making a list of the applications on your old computer that you want on your new computer, then determine what it will take to install them on the new computer.

Do they require an installation disk, or can you download the program from the Internet?

The more web-concentric your applications are, the less complicated the transition will likely be. For instance, if you’re using Gmail instead of a traditional locally installed program, all you’ll need to do is sign in to your Google account as everything resides ‘in the cloud’.

Migration Tools
Depending upon which operating system your using, there may be migration tools available to help with the transition, but I wouldn’t rely solely on them for completing the transition.

The cleanest way to migrate is to install your applications from the most current download or from the original installation disks if it’s an older program.

Syncing Browser Settings
So much of what we do is based on your web browser, so your saved passwords and bookmarks will need to be addressed by syncing them:

Associated Data Files
Each of your important applications will have associated data files that will have to be transferred to the new computer and placed in the proper location.

This is one of the most important tasks as your computer and applications aren’t much use if your associated data doesn’t make it over.

Determine Compatibility
The older your existing computer is, the more likely that a compatibility issue could pop up especially if your new computer is using a much newer operating system.

One of the biggest (and most expensive) surprises for new computer buyers is when they are forced to purchase new software because their old programs aren’t compatible with the latest operating systems.

This issue is prevalent with both Windows and Mac computers, so doing your homework on compatibility before buying a new computer will help you understand what it’s really going to cost in the end.

Shortcut Tool For Adding Utilities
You’ll be surprised how many utilities you’ve relied on for years that also need to be installed. A quick way to understand and install those utilities is with a handy tool called Ninite (

In one step, you can install web browsers, messaging/conferencing apps, media players, and lots of other essential utilities all for free. Mac users have a similar tool located at:

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How to migrate your data to a new Windows laptop