Moving to a new computer?
First, be aware it is almost impossible to move or copy an application from your old computer to a new one. Instead it must be installed on the new computer from the original source. The second part to this is; it may not be legal to load that software on your new computer! Read the End User Agreement.
Also note that if Microsoft Office (and other applications) came on your old machine they cannot be legally installed on the new machine even if you remove if from the old machine.
Data on the other hand can (generally) be easily moved...
The best method is to copy your data to an external hard drive, but finding the data can be a bit difficult.
Almost everything is stored in a folder under each user's name.
- Windows XP, that location is c:\Documents and Settings\username\
- Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 that location is simply c:\users\username\
However, Some older applications may store the data in or under that application's own folder. Accounting applications can be especially difficult; best bet is to use that application's built-in backup system and back up the data to your external drive. On the new machine (after installing the application), use the application's restore feature to get the data from the external drive.
Here is the easiest way to capture (almost) everything else, but requires a large external drive...
For this example we will assume the external drive is E:
In a Command Window for Windows XP type:
- xcopy "c:\Documents and Settings\username\*.*" "e:\*.*" /h /y /e
- In a Command Window for Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10 type: xcopy "c:\users\username\*.*" "e:\*.*" /h /y /e
- There is a space between each segment and the quotes are required.
- xcopy is the command "c:\Documents and Settings\username\*.*" or "c:\users\username\*.*" is the source folder where the *.* means everything!
- "e:\*.*" is the destination.
- /h /y /e are switches telling xcopy to get all folders including hidden and do not prompt about over writing.
- Windows XP, best bet is to run this in the safe mode, see Restarting in the Safe Mode
- During this process you may see various prompts about the particular file being copied. Read the prompt carefully and decide how to answer the prompt.
Stuff in hidden folders:
Mostly, you do not need or care about those except for your old emails and address book. Assuming you were using Outlook or Outlook Express, here is how to import that information to your new computer: Importing Outlook PST, see this Microsoft article.
Importing Outlook Express, see this Microsoft article.