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What is a Computer Migration?

Lonnie C. Best
Lonnie C. Best

Computer migration – also referred to as personal computer (PC) migration, data migration, or software migration – is the moving of data and applications between two different computers. Reasons for requiring a computer migration are varied; two of the most common reasons are the purchase of a new PC and the upgrading of PCs in a business environment. These situations could create the need to transfer all of the information from the older computer systems to the new ones. The migration of data can be performed manually, though full computer migration is usually facilitated by the aid of a software package and hardware, such as a data transfer cable.

Usually, transferring all of the files or applications between two computers is not necessary. Transfer of data can either be avoided entirely or the movement can be accomplished through means such as external memory devices. Some companies offer Internet storage where data can be uploaded from the old machine and then downloaded onto the new machine, negating the need for a full computer migration.

In most cases, IT professionals will handle computer migration in a business environment.
In most cases, IT professionals will handle computer migration in a business environment.

Other times, though, these methods are not feasible. When many applications are manually copied to a new system, for example, the applications can revert to their original settings or fail to work entirely. In these cases, certain information, such as registry data, needs to be transferred directly to the second machine. It is in this type of circumstance when computer migration becomes necessary.

For users of personal computers outside of a business environment, computer migration is generally not an issue. Upgrading or changing computers generally requires only the migration of certain data, such as documents and photos, that can easily be accomplished through means other than full migration. User environments can usually be easily replicated on the new machine, and therefore do not require direct transfer from the older system. For an upgrade to a computer with an operating system already installed, transfer of the operating system (OS) and its subcomponents also tends to be undesirable; applications can usually be easily reinstalled on the new system and reconfigured to match the old settings.

In a business environment, upgrading to new machines may require a computer migration more often than not, as many more files and important application and operating system settings and configurations need to be replicated on the new computer systems. Whereas a computer migration may be performed by the individual owner in a home-based migration scenario, the operation will usually be performed by a professional in a business setting. Many times, this type of migration is handled by an information technology (IT) department.

Discussion Comments


Data migration is one of the great things about cloud storage. You can find plenty of companies that provide a good amount of cloud storage for free. That makes it easy to change computers, assuming you keep all of your important data in cloud storage. Simply sync your new computer with your cloud storage account and -- bam! -- you have all of your files again.

That doesn't help much when it comes to transferring software from an old computer to a new one, but the data is usually the most important thing you want to keep.

Oh, and here's something else. Keeping your important data in a cloud means that that information is backed up and will survive if your computer crashes. Peace of mind is a great thing.


Thankfully, there are a lot of computer manufacturers out there that provide both a cable and the necessary software needed to transfer your data from an old computer to a new one. That can be a very handy feature and is one to look for when out shopping for computers.

Generally, those applications are very good at transferring data but are hit-and-miss when it comes to user and program settings. Also, you will probably have to reinstall software with a new computer, but that should be no problem if you kept the install discs or the passwords for software that was paid for and downloaded. That's usually not that big of a deal, though.

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    • In most cases, IT professionals will handle computer migration in a business environment.
      By: Monika Wisniewska
      In most cases, IT professionals will handle computer migration in a business environment.