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My favorite way to transfer large files between computers

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / January 11, 2006 5:52 AM PST

My favorite way to transfer large files from one computer to another is:

CD-R/CD-RW (what type?)
Cross-over cable
DVD-R/DVD-RW (what type?)
Floppy or Zip drive (what type?)
FTP server
Local-area network
Portable hard drive (what type?)
Memory card (what type?)
USB flash/thumbdrive (what type?)
Other (what is it?)

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When LAN is not available ...
by eXity / January 12, 2006 5:36 PM PST

... I just use my iAudio X5 - 30 Gigs of storage! Great for sharing stuff with your friends. It also shows up as an external Hard Drive. So no drivers required :-D

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When LAN's Not available..
by ajumatt / January 13, 2006 12:10 AM PST

When LAN's not available, I use my DVD-RW/RAM disc. It can transfer data fast. I have a LG RAM compatible multi-drive. This is awesome! Otherwise I use my 1GB SD Card combined with my all-in-one card reader.

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When LAN is not available...
by ajumatt / January 13, 2006 12:12 AM PST

I also have two external hard drives (one 160GB and a 80GB Hard). This is also fast way to do it.

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Transfering large files between computers
by Mark Pulham / January 12, 2006 6:18 PM PST

I have to say I've only had to do it once, but I use Maxtors external hard drives. I have five right now, 2x120Gb, 1x160Gb, and 2x300Gb. I usually have each drive handling different things, one for music, one for video, one for games, etc. It's easy to just unplug from one machine and move it to another

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the beauty of your method is you never have to move stuff
by Cadillac84 / January 12, 2006 10:50 PM PST

Well, almost never. But it also means you have been doing that for a short time. Those of us who still have "priceless" stuff on old 30 MB drives with no computer that will read it -- well, we're just S.O.L.

I am coming to think the external drive (so far I have but one 160G) is the way to go. They used to cost a fortune; now quite reasonable.

Good idea.

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Gigabit lan or usb notebook disk cage
by xsuperstore / July 5, 2009 8:05 AM PDT

I prefer gigabit eth lan or sata notebook disk.

best regards

................ free online store

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Most of the above
by smartipants / January 12, 2006 7:12 PM PST

I transfer files using more than one of the options above depending on where I am, what's available, and the capabilities of the source and receiving computers. I just upgraded to a much larger external hdd on my laptop and used CD-Rs to back up and transfer many of the files (I had a reason for doing it this way). When I'm at school, I frequently transfer files between old and new Macs and my home PC running WinXP. I usually use a CD, Zip, USB flash/thumbdrive or LAN depending on where I start and where I'm going. :o)

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Don't keep.
by mrkillerman / January 12, 2006 7:21 PM PST

I don't keep them because most of the stuff I download is software. I don't put pictures or anything like that on the computer. So If I do download something that I can't go back to the site I got it from then I will put it on a floppy or a cd, and most of the time that's not necessary.

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best idea, but it won't help anybody (lol)
by Cadillac84 / January 12, 2006 10:45 PM PST
In reply to: Don't keep.

You must be the only person in the civilized world who doesn't save stuff. Well, maybe we should ask, "Where in the world ARE you?" (just kidding).

You are right, of course; but few follow your example.

Mostly, if people would save the stuff they want to keep into folders that were easy to find, keep it well organized and not mix in things that shouldn't be saved, they'd be in pretty good shape to use any of the methods suggested.

I'm such a pack-rat! Even though I appreciate your answer, it won't work for me.


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Are you sure?
by mrkillerman / October 30, 2006 11:48 AM PST

I can't be the only person who doesn't needs to save a lot of stuff. I know it's at least one or two people out there like me. Now I'm sorry my idea doesn't work for you but I like space and plenty of free space on my hard drive does it for me 90% at that. Trying to get more any ideas?

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Transfer The Important Stuff to and second slave drive
by lakephillip / January 12, 2006 7:37 PM PST

I Manually copy .dbx(outlook express)files, My Documents, My Adress Book, Works Calander, And Most Importantly all the launchers for the programs I'll have to reinstall. I copy them onto a second internal 300GB HDD. Right now the total size is about 148 GB of Data. I have found this to be the only way to humm after a clean install. File and transfer wizard is not bit-perfect. Everytime I have used it or, Windows XP Pro Backup Program I find many problems, especially my music files and the meta data attached to evey file and folder, just doesn't transfer well but it does copies poifectly.
For My setup it takes 15 Mins to format 250GB HDD, and about 7 hours of recopying to the origianl reformatted hard drive or new machine,freshley installing the programs to bring it to MY 'SPEC'

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need help copying from hd to hd
by sharee100 / January 12, 2006 10:56 PM PST

I have been trying to copy everything from one hard drive to another hard drive so I can reformat first hard drive and just load back what I need (data and software). I have 2 160gb internal hard drives, win xp, and about120gb of stuff to copy. Process keeps crashing my computer. I tried external hard drive case using usb and direct hookup as master/slave. Computer crashes each way. Help.

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Transferring files to new computer
by dsch / January 12, 2006 9:06 PM PST

If the transfer is Mac to Mac you can use firewire target mode for the old computer. Apple then supplies a utility that copies files, settings and applications and sets everything up with the exact same structure as the old computer. I had a new Mac up and runnning with all of my old files in place in about 2 hours. Another reason for having a Mac.

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SD card
by culip / January 12, 2006 9:18 PM PST

I often use a Secure Digital (SD) card. In Japan, a generic SD card with large capacity is inexpensive. 1GB is about 50 USD and 2GB is about 120 USD. Besides, it's very easy to use! Nowadays, many laptop computers have a SD card slot.

But when I transfer a VERY LARGE files, I use my external hard drive (40GB, PC-card).

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What's cheap?
by LennyBruce / March 6, 2008 3:31 AM PST
In reply to: SD card

I have to reply to the person who said a 2GB SD card was "cheap" at $120 U.S.
That is anything but cheap. I have a custom designed 500GB LaCie drive that comes with it's own built in file transfer software for Windows and MAC. That was about 30 something cents a Gigabyte (if you calculate)
So what's so cheap about 2BG for $120?

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Cheap in Japan
by The5sisters / September 7, 2008 9:34 AM PDT
In reply to: What's cheap?

A pair of jeans cost $110 +.
A hamburger is $10 to $15.
A 2GB usb drive/stick at even $200 woul be considered reasonable in Japan,


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Good Ol' Ipod
by Bueller / January 12, 2006 9:30 PM PST

My U2 iPod (20GB) has served me well for transferring files. The nice high speed of USB 2.0 made things very easy when setting everything up on a new laptop. Every now and then, if I'm doing some relatively major work on the PC, I'll back up a copy to the Ipod just in case, so that's smooth.

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transferring data between computers
by nothing / January 12, 2006 10:02 PM PST

I use the usb pocketec drive...20mb version. It works great. Just plug and play. Makes you wonder how we could have ever used floppy disks!

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Slave the Drives
by eSchmeltzer / January 12, 2006 10:41 PM PST

I transfer data all time time on client computers. They have a hardware crash, but all the pics are on the old drive.

The fastest way I have found is to slave the old Hard Drive with the new one and transfer the data to a new folder on the new hard drive.

That also recovers the emails, folders and address books that are of equal concern to recover.

Typically it takes less time that waiting on slower USB or network transfers.

Be sure to scan the drive FIRST before putting old data on a new drive!

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scan the drive?
by sharee100 / January 12, 2006 10:58 PM PST
In reply to: Slave the Drives

Please explain.

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Makes sense to me but factor in actual labor time
by cdcguard / January 12, 2006 11:59 PM PST
In reply to: Slave the Drives

The slave the drive idea is great if you already need to crack the case anyway. I recently used this technique when my machine gave me warnings that a hard drive failure was imminent. Just be sure and factor in the physical labor time to actually open the case, hook up the new drive etc into the equation. I also recently transferred 14 gigs of mp3's over my wireless LAN to my new laptop which took an hour or so but I simply timed it out so I did it during a period when I didn't need my computers for a bit. If someone is buying an additional computer as opposed to a replacement the LAN idea looks pretty good compared to tearing everything apart and putting it back together just in the name of file transfers.

Just one redneck's opinion.

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Pull the old drive
by roadbase / January 12, 2006 10:48 PM PST

Pull the old drive, plug it into one of the optical reader ribbon cables on the new machine, and connect the power cable. The computer will see it as another drive and then just copy the files that you need. When done, put it all back the way it was. This worked good for me. My new hard drive was so much larger that I could copy the whole drive from my old computer and take my time deleting the files that I didn't want. I took the precaution of disconnecting the power while swaping wires.

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Pull Old Drive Plus
by oldmirco / January 14, 2006 9:11 AM PST
In reply to: Pull the old drive

With one addition this is the method I have used without too many problems. That one addition is backing up everything in zip files on CD-ROM. I use CD-R's because of the price per MB. I also wrote a program to help identify system files that are new on the new system and can be deleted from the old.

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File transfer
by water king / January 12, 2006 10:48 PM PST

While using a LAN connection, or a crossover cable is probably the easiest and quickest way, many people do not have access to either one. In the office setting, this is "the" way to go.
For the average person in the home setting, I find coping all of the data to CD's or DVD's the best bet.
This is the perfect oppertunity to make a back up of all ou your valuavle data. After copying everything to disks, and re-copying to your mew machine, store the disks in a safe place. You may need them again!!
The only thing that you must remember when doing this is that all of your data that you coppied to the new computer will probably cary the "Read Only" attribute.
To correct this, you must sellect all in each directory, then do a right-click, find properties, and un-check read-only. Choose the "apply to all" option and click OK or apply.


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Good point!
by Cadillac84 / January 12, 2006 10:54 PM PST
In reply to: File transfer

You said,

"The only thing that you must remember when doing this is that all of your data that you coppied to the new computer will probably cary the "Read Only" attribute.
To correct this, you must sellect all in each directory, then do a right-click, find properties, and un-check read-only. Choose the "apply to all" option and click OK or apply."

Easy to forget that. Then, every time you try to open one of the transferred files, Winders will pop up and ask you if you want to open the "read-only file xyz" and you think, "how did that happen?" (we quickly forget, don't we!)

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I did not know that
by sharee100 / January 12, 2006 11:02 PM PST
In reply to: Good point!

When I finally get all my stuff copied successfully (so far computer crashes every time I try to copy hard drive one to hard drive two), I'll remember that. Thanks. I'm even copying your note to my notes so I won't forget. Thanks.

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One word - IntelliMover!
by lkltft / January 12, 2006 11:25 PM PST

I recently purchased a new HP Windows XP Media Edition system. My 3 year old Dell was dying and I wanted to quickly and simply transfer my files from the old computer before it quit altogether. I ordered IntelliMover by Detto Technologies with some doubt, but it performed beautifully. I was able to pick and choose what I wanted to transfer and the whole process took under 3 hours to complete ? and I have a very large media collection. All my photos, music, email, files, folders, games etc. - everything I wanted and nothing I didn't - transferred over without a glitch. Instructions are easy to understand and even easier to implement. I highly recommend this product for people who haven?t the first clue how to transfer from one computer to another or for those who want the job done quickly and efficiently.

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Thanks. I'm now closer to feeling I might do it myself.
by Carlos5712 / April 24, 2006 10:12 AM PDT

We will likely be replacing our Dell laptop this year and your succinct comment motivated me to continue reading further before committing to paying someone to do the transfer.
As I probably won't make the purchase before December, unless matters necessitate, I have enough time to learn more, feeling more confidence, thanks to your input.

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(NT) (NT) Scan Disk USB Flash Drive
by terraeide / January 13, 2006 1:36 AM PST
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file transfer method
by jcsmith / January 13, 2006 2:37 AM PST

I have an external LS-120 SuperDisk (Imation, 120 MB, floppy compatible drive) for my laptop and an internal LS-120 drive in my desktop. They are real handy for moving large files and the disks are (were) inexpensive and the same size as a floppy. I was very sad to see the format dropped and if anyone has a spare LS-120 drive they aren't using I'd be glad to take it off your hands (phone 925-944-1420). I also have an old 128 MB Smart Media card from a dead camera that works fine for the purpose but is a little less convenient as you must (so they say) use the "safely remove hardware" procedure when you take it out of the slot.

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