- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

With 50 shopping days till Christmas (and for Hanukkah, only 25 days), is a new computer on your gift list?
I was just blessed with a new arrival, and it's becoming part of the landscape here at "On Computers Central." But unlike previous upgrades, I'm finding some differences and the need for a plan.
The move is from one version of Apple's iMac with a 15-inch screen and a 700-MHz processor to the larger, 17-inch display unit, which sports an 800-MHz processor. Not the biggest of upgrades, but an upgrade nonetheless.
The other iMac has about six months' worth of work on it, not to mention a raft of programs and doodads I'd rather not part with. How best to make the move, and more important, how to make the move a success? Some strategies have emerged in the past few days, and they can apply to both Windows and Mac computers.
First, start in parallel, if you can. The older iMac is on one corner of my desk; the new iMac is on another. If I can't find something on the new computer, or want to compare the new with the old, the old is available to me. It's also a good backup just in case the new system hiccups.
Second, try to tie things together. Because I have a home network set up, I can connect the two via Ethernet cables and a wireless router/network hub that also supports Ethernet connections. This means I can access each machine's hard drive on the other computer that's good for transferring files and programs. If you have your old and new computers, either a direct Ethernet connection (using a crossover network cable, perhaps) or connecting via serial port or Universal System Bus (USB) cables might do the trick.
When using a USB connection, however, be sure you find a cable that will support a computer-to-computer hookup. On the Windows side, such cables can be ordered along with LapLink Gold software (www.laplink.com), which can be used to network two computers without going through an Ethernet setup.
Third, take it step by step. "Rome wasn't burned in a day," the wife of a friend once said, and while that's not the original phrase, you get the idea. It's best to transfer one program over, make sure it works, and then add another.
This makes for easier troubleshooting, as well as providing the opportunity to move just the things you really need and use, as opposed to all the stuff one might have installed "just in case." Having a new computer with a larger hard drive doesn't mean, of course, that you need to fill that hard drive in one day.
Fourth, be ready for problems. I've had some annoying ones involving e-mail and access to files (I can't seem to easily attach documents and other files to outgoing e-mail; what was a one-step process is now two or three steps) and I'm waiting for answers from the software vendors involved. Meanwhile (see step one), my old computer stands ready for use in a pinch.
Fifth, read up before making a move. If you're going from Macintosh to Windows (or vice versa), there are steps you can take to make the switch easier. Reading the user manuals for the operating systems, or an introductory handbook (such as "Windows XP for Dummies" from HungryMinds or "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition" from O'Reilly), can make for a smoother transfer.
Most important, keep a diary. As you upgrade, note what you did, what worked and what didn't so that you can solve problems now and avoid complications the next time.
E-mail [email protected] or visit his Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk to Mr. Kellner live on Fridays from 5-6 p.m. EST on www.adrenalineradio.com.

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