Photo by ://maraculio
Starting way back in the Windows 3.1 days I began a habit that has stayed with me ever since. I make an effort to periodically reinstall my computer’s O/S and applications and restore all my data. I started doing this for two reasons: First, it cleaned out any cruft that had been laying around. Second, and more importantly, it forced me to be more prepared for a disaster recovery scenario. I always knew (roughly) that it would take me about 2-3 hours to replace a destroyed computer when starting from scratch (not including small re-configurations and re-installations that go on for a few days afterwards.) It’s been a valuable experience.
I’ve been doing the same thing on my Mac since I first got one about 6 odd years ago. But the experience has been vastly different. OS X has the Migration Assistant which transfers files, settings and applications from one computer to another. It’s worked almost flawlessly for me as I’ve moved my user account between the 7 Macs I’ve owned over the years. Not only has it worked going between computers, but it works great whenever I re-install the operating system. I have had the same user account since my very first Mac and it’s survived at least 50 trips through the Migration Assistant (I use it whenever I travel to move my account to my laptop and back, I travel rarely enough that this is a feasible operation.)
So, a couple weeks ago when I decided to move my PC from Windows 7 RC to Windows 7 RTM I decided to try out the Microsoft equivalent, Windows Easy Transfer. I was, sadly, underwhelmed. It didn’t do any better than I do manually by copying my Documents folder. Nothing got transferred from AppData or the Registry (something probably did transfer, but it was so little that I didn’t really notice what.) It’s possible that I did something wrong, so I’ll be trying it again next time I do a rebuild, but I don’t really have the time now to play with it.
So I’ll toss the question out to you, dear readers, what do you use to transfer your account settings when you rebuild or get a new computer? I haven’t spent any time looking for a third-party utility specifically because I wanted to learn from the manual experience, but it’s starting to get pretty tedious. It’d be nice to not have to re-create my start menu or re-pin applications to my task bar or recustomize my keyboard or… You get the idea.