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How to move your home network and media center with minimal stress

Moving is hard enough without the added stress of confusing snarls of cables and electronic gear. A little planning ahead can make moving your tech much simpler.

I moved recently, and though I hired pros and consider myself to be fairly well organized, it was still stressful and exhausting. I did manage to save myself some time and heartache by planning ahead regarding my home network, media centers, and other devices. Here are some tips to make your own move a little simpler: 

  • Deal with your ISP and other providers ahead of time. Just like utilities providers, magazine publishers, employers, and everyone else who needs your new address, your ISP needs plenty of heads-up to make your move as seamless as possible. This is doubly true if you need to switch providers; make sure that your old service is actually turned off when you move out of the old place, and make sure that your new place is equipped for the kind of connection you want. Give yourself at least a couple of weeks, but planning a month ahead is even better. 
  • Plan your new home's tech space. You may already be planning where to put furniture, kitchen gadgets, and so on, but make sure you're tackling tech issues as well. Where will your modem live? What's the best place for your wireless router? Is your new house big enough to warrant a wireless repeater or Powerline network extender? Will your media center need to connect to the network? Will you need to mount speakers? If you answer these questions ahead of time, you can get yourself set up much more quickly. 
  • Sort gear by location, not function. This is somewhat counter-intuitive, but it can pay off in the long run. Once you've got your house plan set up, you should know where every router, cable, printer, computer, speaker, and other piece of gear is going to live in the new place. Pack a box with living room tech gear, another with bedroom tech, and so on, and when it's time to set up you won't have to search through multiple boxes to get that one vital cable. 
  • Label your cables. If you're like me, you have many more cables than ports to connect, and many of them have outlived their usefulness. While you're purging your stuff for the move, go through your cables and label every one of them that you recognize. Make them as specific as possible, like "power cable for primary network hard drive," and try for labels that will last, like white duct tape. Pack the ones you use by location, as I mention above, then separate the ones you recognize from the ones you don't. Keep the odd ones in a bag for six months or so and dispose of those that you haven't used in that time. 
  • Track down manuals ahead of time. This can be vital if your network settings are changing, or you're shaking up the connections between computers, media, storage, or other components of your home network. If you're like me, you've got them all locked away in a filing cabinet, but you should dig them out and pack them up with the gear they explain so you don't have to search too hard when you're at your peak of frustration. You can also download many manuals to your mobile device to make life even easier. 
  • Move essentials yourself. This is true for moving in general; try to move valuables and anything you can't live without yourself. There are two elements to this: avoiding loss and avoiding interruption. If you've got some especially vital, fragile, or hard-to-replace items in your stock of home tech, try to take care of it yourself so you don't have to hassle with your movers if something goes wrong. Of course, you may have hired top-of-the-line movers who make legally binding guarantees. If so, you shouldn't have to worry about loss, but interruption may still be a concern. Forestall them by packing everything you would take with you on a long trip: phones, laptops, handheld devices, and (most importantly) charging and connecting cables for all of them. This is sure to make your move go more smoothly.

That's the overview. Everyone's situation is different, and yours may require some tweaks or some major overhauls. The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead and to keep everything you need together as much as is possible. Good luck with your move!

You may also want to check out Your online guide to moving from a few years back.