One of the questions that end users ask me most frequently is how to transfer files, settings, and applications to a new PC. I usually recommend users accomplish this task with the Windows XP Files And Settings Transfer Wizard, but for those without XP, this isn’t an option. Luckily PC Upgrade Commander from VCOM gives you the ability to migrate files, settings, and applications between Windows systems even if those systems are running different versions of Windows.

Easy-to-meet system requirements
If you’ve used the Windows XP Files And Settings Transfer Wizard, you know that the wizard asks you if the machine you’re using is the old or the new machine. The wizard then asks you for the migration medium and then begins the migration process. PC Upgrade Commander is very similar, but with one key difference. The Windows XP Files And Settings Transfer Wizard allows you to migrate from a previous version of Windows to Windows XP or from Windows XP to Windows XP (on a different computer).

However, with PC Upgrade Commander, it doesn’t matter which version of Windows either PC is using. You can perform migrations between Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. With a few exceptions, PC Upgrade Commander doesn’t care if the old and new machines are running the same or different versions of Windows. However, while it might be physically possible to migrate from Windows NT to Windows 95 (not that you’d want to), you couldn’t expect Windows 95 to be able to run an application that was specifically designed to run only under Windows NT. PC Upgrade Commander would attempt to migrate the application, but the application wouldn’t run on the new PC.

PC Upgrade Commander requires both the old and the new PCs to have a 386 processor or better, 16 MB of RAM, and only 4 MB of free hard disk space. Of course, those are just the requirements for software installation. Common sense will tell you that the new machine must also have adequate hard disk space to accommodate the files and settings that are being transferred.

Figure A

You must also have a medium for transferring the files, settings, and applications between the old and new PCs (see Figure A). PC Upgrade Commander can use a TCP/IP-based network connection or any network connection in which both the old and new PC can access a common network drive. You can also transfer the files and settings via removable media such as a Jazz disk, ZIP disk, or DVD-RW.

There is limited support for transferring files, settings, and applications via parallel port. Parallel port communications are natively supported in Windows 95, 98, and Me, but are not supported by Windows NT. Windows 2000 and Windows XP both support parallel port transfers, but only when Direct Cable Connection (DCC) software is installed on both the old and new PCs.

Copies only safe files
In the days of DOS and Windows 3.1, I routinely upgraded systems by simply copying files from one system to another. When Windows 95 came out, it didn’t take me very long to realize that my old trick didn’t work anymore except under some very controlled circumstances. The problem with doing file-level migrations between Windows 95 (or higher) PCs was that the two PCs likely had slightly different hardware configurations. Different hardware means different DLL files, which of course meant that the new system usually wouldn’t work correctly after such an attempted migration. There were also some tricky file-level migration issues caused by hidden files and folders and long filenames.

Because of this, you might be wondering how PC Upgrade Commander keeps from trashing the new system when it performs a migration. The reason the process works is because PC Upgrade Commander requires that the new system already be running Windows prior to the upgrade. During the upgrade, PC Upgrade Commander upgrades only safe system files, such as user profiles, wallpapers, and the like. It doesn’t attempt to overwrite Windows-specific DLL files or registry entries. So Windows’ integrity is preserved.

Application transfers are handled similarly. If an application exists on the old machine but not on the new machine, the application’s files, drivers, and registry keys are all migrated. However, if the application already exists on the new PC, PC Upgrade Commander is careful not to overwrite anything that could cause the application to malfunction.

Even if a migration does go bad, all is not lost. PC Upgrade Commander has an Undo feature that allows you to return the new system to its premigration status with the click of a mouse button.

I recommend it
I really like how easy PC Upgrade Commander is to use. The entire migration process is wizard-driven and completely idiot-proof. I also like how many transfer methods the application supports. These features, combined with the ability to undo a failed migration, make PC Upgrade Commander a definite keeper.

You can download PC Upgrade Commander from VCOM’s Web site for $39.95, or you can have the product mailed to you on CD-ROM for $49.95. The CD-ROM version also contains a printed instruction manual; the downloadable version includes an electronic instruction manual. In case you’re wondering, the download is only 3.7 MB.