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Can a backup drive be used to transfer info to new computer

by lyrical56 / February 26, 2011 5:10 AM PST

I bought a new computer. I have a backup - I think it is a drive (shows how much I know) it's about 2x4 inches and plugs into my old computer.

I just want to know - it says it backs up my emails, etc. - if I can just plug it into the new computer with the same programs installed and the data will transfer.

Or do I have to use a cable to do it? And do I have to do my emails separately?

I am moving from an Acer desktop to another newer Acer desktop.

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Are you talking about a USB external drive?
by Steven Haninger / February 26, 2011 7:29 PM PST

Does it plug into a port on your old PC and is the connector rectangular about 1/2 by 1/8th of an inch? If so, it should plug into a new PC just fine but this doesn't mean it will automatically do backups or transfer data. Some of these drives come with software that needs to be loaded on the host PC first but, in general, they are easily recognized when moving from one PC to another.

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Transferring Data to New Computer
by lyrical56 / February 26, 2011 11:15 PM PST

Yes, it is a WD 4 gig external drive - would you believe I didn't even know that?! It does just plug in and there is no software with it. I know I'm a dummy, but I can't even figure out how to back up to it! I'm especially worried about emails since I do them for a humane society and that's where most of our needed info is. None of us knows computers except how to use them, lol. I don't know a lot of the technical terms either.

I'm researching on the net, but honestly, I just need someone to tell me step by step what to do, so little time and so much to do and I really want to save animals not do computers though they are an interest as well. I'm 70 and learning this stuff and it is a trial! I just want it to be easy I guess.

Just need to get the data from my computer to the humane society's new computer. So anyone that helps will be helping more than just an old lady, lol. Thanks Happy

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I have another idea
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2011 1:45 AM PST

It's not going to be all that easy to come up with a step by step method of putting email on an external drive so you can carry it to another PC. These tend to not be individual files and the process gets even more complicated if attachments are involved. You're going to need to have compatible email programs at both places as well. I have two ideas. One would be to screen the emails and to copy and paste the information as text and use the "save as" function which would allow you to deposit them on the external drive in a folder of your choice. Another way that might be better is just forward the email to an address at the Humane Society. In this way, you'd have copies on the home PC and the organizations that would be nearly identical. Can you do that?

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.Another idea re emails
by lyrical56 / February 27, 2011 4:13 AM PST
In reply to: I have another idea

Yes I've thought of sending the emails - but there are THREE YEARS worth of them - hundreds and hundreds. Is there a way to send them w/o doing each one separately? Same for the save function, I thought about copying them into Word and saving them. I've been trying to just get the actual files from one compute to the other and have only succeeded FINALLY to getting the files (not emails) onto the external HD. Windows 7 is so different from Vista to me so far. Had no trouble going from XP to Vista, seemed like a cake walk compared to what I'm trying to do now.

I have a stomach ache from all this. Guess I'm going to have to pay an expert to do this. I thought you could just d/l the windows programs, use a transfer cable and wa la. Ain't working that way for me! Yikes.

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What email program are you using?
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2011 5:14 AM PST

As well, what email program is being used at the Humane Society where you want them transferred. If the two are not compatible or one can convert to or from the other, all efforts to put them on an external drive will be in vain. Maybe someone here who knows those programs could help you. I use Thunderbird but many people use MS Outlook or Outlook Express. I know that outlook express is gone with Windows 7 so that one could be a problem. You said you got the files transferred to the external drive but not the emails. What files did you put on that drive? What you would need would be the files that contain the email and possible whatever indexes them. I know that my Thunderbird program doesn't create individual files for each message but does create a file for each folder such as In Box, Saved, etc. It might be possible to install another email program on your computer that is on the one you want the email transferred to and convert to that format. If successful, you should be able copy the converted files to the external and import them to the program on the other PC but you'd first need to know what you have and what they have. Sorry to ramble

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Both Email Programs are same
by lyrical56 / February 27, 2011 6:07 AM PST

I've had a neighbor come and she can't figure it out either. We can't even get Windows 7 to restore the regular files from the external drive.

Both computer have same info. MS Outlook has hundreds of email addresses that we use for lost/found animals in our rural areas.

The lady that came said Windows 7 is AWFUL. What little I've looked at it, I AGREE. Nothing is easy to find or use.

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Windows 7 isn't going to help you restore any files
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2011 8:16 AM PST

That is something you have to do manually. You'd copy the files from one PC to the external drive and copy those back to the appropriate location on the other PC in order to use them. In the case of email, you'd need to know which files you need and that's not going to be easy. Generally, however, they are in a user's folder. Anyone defined as a user on a computer will have their own profile and their data will go in one of several folders and sub-folders in their own user folder. This would include email and email account data. The trick is knowing which files are needed. At this point, I still think you may be better off just to start forwarding the mail before it gets lost altogether. You can probably print out the address book. I know it would be nice to just transfer it all by some USB drive but that's not a straight forward process either. I don't think anyone here can walk you through that so I'd suggest getting busy with an alternative process. Good luck to you but I don't think I can offer any more ideas.

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I more thing
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2011 8:27 AM PST

Did you check to see if your email program had an "export" function. Most do and you can export email and address books and then import them into another program. But, not all programs or versions of programs are compatible with one another. This may depend on the age of the program on the old PC but you could try it anyway. You'd create a folder on the external drive to export the files to. You'd go to the export function on your old PC. It should ask you where you want the files to export to and you point it to the folder you just created. Once done, you plug the external drive into the new PC and go to its email program and look for the "import" function. It should ask where the file is you want to import and, again, you point it to the folder on the external drive. Then you just hope and pray the new email program knows that format and it should take care of the rest for you.

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Maybe this would help?
by tekchallenged / February 27, 2011 9:21 AM PST
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Easy transfer
by lyrical56 / February 27, 2011 11:07 AM PST
In reply to: Maybe this would help?

Yep, been there tried that. We just couldn't get it to work no matter what we tried. I'm giving up and going to try to find someone to hire to do it if it can be done, lol. I've spent two days on this and my friends as well. We just don't have any more time to work on it and we are frustrated to the point of taking the computer back. This is really an area that some technical person should write a program for that WORKS and they'd make a fortune.

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well, that should be microsoft
by tekchallenged / February 27, 2011 6:35 PM PST
In reply to: Easy transfer

No doubt, Microsoft thinks that its transfer program works.

If you used Thunderbird, I could tell you how to do it, but I don't use Outlook so haven't a clue what to do, sorry. If you can find out where the Outlook files are and copy them to your external drive, Thunderbird should be able to import them.

But seeing as you've already spent so much time on it, getting someone to do it for you makes sense. Good luck and I hope you get is sorted soon.

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Your help
by lyrical56 / February 27, 2011 11:10 AM PST
In reply to: Maybe this would help?

Thank you so very much for your ideas. CNET forums were just one of my attempts at getting info - googled so much stuff too.

Thank you!

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Re: moving Outlook data
by Kees_B Forum moderator / February 27, 2011 6:43 PM PST
In reply to: Your help

Practically everything Outlook stores is in a single .pst file. All you've got to do: find it on your old PC, copy it to the external hard disk, find where Outlook had made a new .pst file on your new PC and copy the old one from the external hard disk over that empty new one. Done.

You didn't tell what version of Outlook you had on your old OS (XP, Vista) nor what version of Outlook you have on your new Windows 7 PC. So I can't help you with that other than giving a link for Outlook 2003:

Are you really telling you never did a backup of those invaluable mails on your old PC. Then you are LUCKY you still have them. Better start doing a backup of everything you don't want to lose now you've got a new PC.


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by lyrical56 / February 27, 2011 9:54 PM PST

No, no backups until buying the WD External drive to move the data! As I said we are all busy doing and our focus is on the animals, not on computers. Running a humane society is a stressful bit of work with the old ladies at the core of it. We've taken on a lot more than we knew and really are handling crises as they hit us.

Old version was Office 2003, new one 2010. If a backup covers emails then why aren't they on the WD ext. drive? How do you backup emails? Perhaps if we could get that done, we might be able to transfer them when we get someone that can get the backup to work putting the info onto the new computer.

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Re: backup
by Kees_B Forum moderator / February 27, 2011 10:02 PM PST
In reply to: Backup

If you didn't make a backup, it isn't there. So back to what I said:

"Find it on your old PC, copy it to the external hard disk (or a USB-stick, find where Outlook has made a new .pst file on your new PC and copy the old one from the external hard disk (or the USB-stick) over that empty new one. Done."

Only competences needed:
- using Tools>Options in Outlook to find the location of the .pst file
- finding a file in a folder using Windows Explorer or My Computer
- copying a file using Windows Explorer or My Computer
That's basic use of Windows. No excuse possible if you can't do that after a few years of using a PC. If still in doubt, find a young guy in stead of an old lady to help you with it.


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As I mentioned above, do try the export function
by Steven Haninger / February 27, 2011 7:20 PM PST
In reply to: Your help

if available. I'll thank my wife for reminding me of that one as I was too focused on trying to determine which program you had, what file names would be involved and where you could find them. The export/import function is often a method one can use when moving email from one PC to another in their own home but is more successful if the email handler is the same on both PCs. Give it a try if you haven't done so already. There should be nothing to lose at this point.

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