With Macs, it’s quite simple. All you need to do is run the Migration Assistant, which will transfer all your data, settings, and most programs. Some of them will need updates to properly function, but the entire process is simple and can be done by an average computer user. Not so easy with Windows!
Files, bookmarks, emails, and some settings can be backed up and copied onto a new hard drive. But computer programs form a relationship with the registry and with files in your computer’s operating system. They don’t simply exist to be accessed.
Free programs available online can be easily reinstalled. We use the service called Ninite, which helps to speed up and automate installation of most software.
Other programs usually require a license, meaning you must have a product key, or log into an account to use them. There is also often a limit to the number of computers the program can be installed on, so you will likely have to deactivate the program on your old computer before it can be used on your new one.
So, before you throw away that box or activation key, file it away and keep safe just in case! Often, if you lose those you will have to buy the program you need again – an added cost you probably don’t want.
We’ve seen some software that claims the ability to transfer programs, but they can vary on reliability and are not recommended – especially if you transfer from an older operating system like Windows 7. Even if it does succeed, you will still need to activate the software!