How to copy your files to a new PC
So, you’ve got yourself a new Windows 10 PC or laptop. What now? Well first things first, you’re going to need all of your data and files from the previous PC if you want to get anything done. But how can you get them off the old machine and onto the new one? Here’s a few different ways.
Create and restore a backup
We should all be routinely backing up our data to prevent a sudden hard disk crash from causing disaster. But, if you haven’t yet adopted this approach then you should take a look at our How to backup Windows 10 guide which shows how to use the software already built-in to Windows 10.
With this method you can create copies of your files and folders, all of which can then be restored to the new machine via the File History feature outlined in the article linked above.
Another option is to use dedicated backup software such as Acronis True Image which allows you to specify the data you want to backup and restore, while also offering the ability to clone your entire system (applications and operating system included) so you can recover from a crash.
These type of packages are not free, but a good backup solution is worth its weight in gold, so we think it’s a sound investment. Take a look at our chart of Best backup software for the pick of the current crop.
Copy files manually
It might be more labour intensive, but if you’re not bothered about the various applications on your PC then you can simply copy your documents, music, photos, and video folders onto an external hard drive by dragging and dropping them via the File Manager window.
To do this, plug in your external drive, the open File Manager. Hold CTRL+N to open a second File Manager window alongside the first. Now, select the external drive listed in the left hand column of one of the windows and use that one as your target drive.
Right click to bring up the quick menu and then select New > Folder. Call it something that makes it easy to know what’s inside – for example Documents – and then repeat the process until you have as many folders as you need.
Finally, highlight and drag files from the other window into the newly created folders.
You won’t be able to take your preferences and settings with you this way, but all of your files will be safe, plus you can then use the hard drive to create backups on your new machine. If you don’t have an external drive then these are the best portable hard drives.
Use a data transfer cable
Another approach is to use a specialist data cable that comes with software for transferring files. The UGREEN Data Transfer Cable is one such solution and it can be found at the time of writing for £18.99/$20.59 on Amazon.
Simply plug the cable into both your PCs, follow the instructions, and your files should be moved over in no time at all.
Setup a NAS
If you’ve never considered a NAS (Network Attached Storage) before then this could be the perfect time. These act as local servers that can store all your media, documents, and other files, meaning you can access them from any of your devices.
An additional benefit of this route is that you don’t have to go through the various methods mentioned above the next time you buy a new PC, as all your files are stored on the NAS instead.
See our Best NAS drives guide for more details on this excellent way to manage and protect your data.
Use cloud storage
We recommend cloud storage for storing files because you can then access them from anywhere, not just a single PC. Check our recommendations for the best cloud storage services. When you sign up, you can upload the files from your old PC, then access them from the cloud on the new PC.