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How to get your data from Windows XP to a new PC

Alex Castle | April 8, 2014
With the Windows end-of-service deadline finally upon us, a lot of holdouts are hurriedly making the upgrade to Windows 7 or 8. Moving all your important files from Windows XP to your new computer may sound like just one more hassle.

Don't forget your product keys!

There's one last thing to think about before you shut down that old PC for good: product keys. If you've activated paid software on your old computer, you should make sure to recover those software keys before they're gone for good. That way, you can download and reactivate the software on your new PC, even if you've lost the original packaging, without having to buy a new copy or contact the manufacturer.

To track down almost all of the CD keys on your new system, you can use a free program called Belarc Advisor. It will find all the CD keys in use on your machine, and save them for you in a convenient HTML document.

After installing the program, it runs with almost no input from you. After a few seconds it'll spit out a document with an incredibly thorough breakdown of all the software, drivers and hardware that make up your computer. About two-thirds of the way down the document you'll see a list of all the software keys Belarc Advisor could find on your system and their associated programs. Save or even print out Belarc Advisor's HTML file so you can re-install your software on your new computer.

Most software doesn't require you to deactive it on your old computer before you can activate it on a new computer, but some do. In particular, some professional-grade software, like Adobe Photoshop, requires deactivation before it can be installed again.

A host of tools and techniques stand ready to help you migrate from your old PC to a new one. We know it's hard to say goodbye, but take a deep breath, set aside some time, and do it. 

 

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