- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Whether it’s graduation, the recent frenzy of home buying (sales in April, it was reported the other day, were up dramatically as the tax credit deadline neared), or just the natural migration so many of us undertake, moving from one place to another is almost a national pastime. The spring and summer seasons appear to be prime relocation times.

So what can you do to best prepare for a computer move?

Well, it depends, of course, on the type of computer you have. If all you’re using is a notebook PC (or Mac), “moving” is a pretty easy affair: Close the lid, slip the computer in a carrying case and get on with the show. On the other hand, if you have a desktop machine on which you rely, it can be a bit more complicated.

If you’ve held on to the original carton and packaging, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out how to return everything to their original places. Once packed away, the box should be easy to move, although I’d generally suggest carrying the computer in your car, and not to let the moving company do it, unless absolutely necessary. (It might also be a very good idea to do a complete system backup, on a suitable external hard drive, so that if the worst should happen, your data are protected.)

One very important note: Be sure to take all your cables and all your peripherals with you, preferably bundled together, or at least close at hand. After my most recent move, I had to scrounge around a bit before locating the wireless keyboard and mouse duo I previously used. Reinstalling those made life a whole lot easier.

Ditto on the cables: Pain can take on a whole new meaning if you can’t find the vendor-specific power or USB cable you need. Sometimes replacements are available, sometimes they’re not, and in either case, ordering is a pain and an added expense. Keep the cable with the main device, if possible. Using color-coded tape to match items might be a wise idea, too.

On the way to your new home, be sure to check out whether your Internet service can travel with you. Comcast’s cable Internet and Verizon’s FiOS are available in wide swaths of the Washington metropolitan area and environs — although FiOS may be hard to come by in some suburban/rural areas — and for me, moving FiOS was relatively easy. In moving, you might be able to get a better deal for service and price because both companies are keen to keep subscribers. Then again, according to the Verizon technician who set us up in our new home, no one — not a single resident — of the new development has Comcast. (I did notice one satellite dish, however.)

Performance can be an issue sometimes when you move. We were promised a nice upgrade in speed, but some tweaking may yet be necessary to achieve top performance. For now, we’re doing OK in terms of download and upload speeds, but we’re not getting the 35 megabits-per-second download speeds promised.

One nice thing a move can allow you to do is pare things a bit. My home office is, for the time being, simpler and better organized now, even if I still need to get some furniture and unpack a few book boxes. However, it’s my hope to keep things relatively simple in this new place: I’m down to one printer, not several, and one desktop computer, not two. Granted, the iMac is an Intel-based system that can run Microsoft Windows 7 under the Parallels virtual machine technology, but that still cuts things down a bit.

My neatest tech find so far? A two-line cordless phone system sold under the RCA brand label at Office Depot, although I believe the phone is actually a General Electric product. Never mind: It marries my Voice-over-Internet-protocol (or VoIP) and regular phone lines, making it easier to answer business and family calls, as well as making for a less-cluttered desk.

Moving can be a daunting and even harrowing experience. With a little planning, however, the computer end of it can be relatively stress-free.

Send e-mail to mkellner@washingtontimes.com.