The article I posted defining my methodology for building a new system to get it up and running as quickly as possible and with all of my stuff accessible touched a lot of nerves and generated some good questions. As I went through the questions and gave a lot of thought to them it made sense for me to post my answers here so they will be more easily accessible to the inquiring minds.
A lot of interest was expressed in my usage of the Belkin Easy TransferCable along with Vista’s Windows Easy Transfer utility. This is a bigpart of my rebuilding process and I’ll elaborate a bit on this greattool for migrating from one system to a new one. The Easy Transferutility will actually migrate a Windows XP system to a new one runningVista, in fact that is what it was originally designed to do. I’vedone that quite a few times and it works very well. Where I find it toreally shine though is building a Vista system from an older systemrunning Vista. Telling the utility to transfer everything is an easyway to make a new system look like and run just like the older system.That said, you can choose to only bring over specific types ofinformation should you decide that would be best. It’s an easy andquick way to just bring over your documents and other user-createdinformation should that be all you want to do. You can also choose toonly bring your settings with you. The settings migration is verycomprehensive, it will bring over all user accounts that you havecreated on the older system (or just the user account if preferred).These accounts will be migrated over and created on the new system foryou as part of the migration process. The settings migration will alsobring over any email accounts that are properly configured, along withall of your Internet Explorer settings and favorites. This enables youto get right to web work on the new system immediately after themigration is complete. Easy Transfer brings all of your cookies andpasswords so the first time you run Internet Explorer after themigration you will find your toolbars the same as before and everythingelse ready to go like your old machine.
I use Firefox and the Easy Transfer utility doesn’t migrate anythingfor Firefox so I immediately install the Google Browser Sync utility inFirefox. This utility syncs all Firefox bookmarks, cookies andpasswords to the server on Google and once it’s done the first timeevery instance of Firefox will always stay synchronized on everymachine you run Firefox. It works on both Windows and Macs so myFirefox browsing environment is always the same no matter what machineI am using. This is wonderful for those like me who use multiplesystems regularly, especially since I use both Windows machines andMacs. This is a big part of my web experience and one of the firstthings I install on a new machine even though I forgot to indicate that in my original article.
As you can see the Easy Transfer process is a big portion of my buildeffort on a new machine and in just a short time, about an hour, my newsystem will come up running and looking just like my older system.This is such a big boon for me and I can’t state strongly enough howbeneficial this is. The Easy Transfer process doesn’t bring over anyprograms that have been installed on the older machine so they do haveto be installed on the new system. This is actually a good thingbecause anyone who runs Windows for a while can attest that the moreyou load up on the system the more bogged down Windows gets over time.Having to reinstall only the programs you really need on the new systemmakes sure that it runs as well as possible from the get-go.
A good question was asked about how I deal with all of the program software keys that must be re-entered when installing the programs on the new system. I have a system that has evolved over time that I use to make that process easier. I have a notebook in OneNote called "SW REG" that I use to store all keys that I receive. Typically when I buy software online they email me the software key to use for installation and I use the "send to OneNote" button in Outlook to send the email to the SW REG notebook. Each program then gets its own page in OneNote and I put the program name in the title block so when I look at the page tabs in this notebook I can find the program key I need very quickly. I copy the key and paste it into the install dialog box and off I go. Since this requires OneNote to already be installed on the new system I simply print the program pages I need to access prior to installing OneNote on the new system and just type them in as I install the programs. This is one reason why the installation of OneNote occurs so early in the build process. I have the key for practically every program I have purchased in this OneNote notebook and the system has worked well for me for years. There are software utilities that are available that can store this information too but the OneNote method is my preferred method as it’s very easy for me to capture these keys at the moment I purchase a new program.
Someone posed an observation about my usage of FolderShare to keep multiple systems synchronized as far as my document content goes. The observation pointed out that FolderShare doesn’t claim to work under Vista which surprised me when I checked up on it and discovered that that is true, FolderShare doesn’t purport to run under Vista. I am happy to report though that that doesn’t match my experience, I have used it on multiple systems running Vista and it’s worked just fine. I should add a caveat to that statement though. While FolderShare has always synced two Vista systems well for me, I have experienced problems getting Vista systems to sync with both XP systems and Macs. Vista uses some logical path structure for some of the Documents folders which gives FolderShare some problems when syncing Vista to non-Vista systems. I haven’t had trouble syncing two Vista systems though which is what I will be doing with the new Fujitsu when I build it. It is important to note that FolderShare is limited to only allow 10 sync libraries and each of these libraries will only handle a maximum of 10,000 files. That sounds like a lot but in the past I did run into this limit for the Documents folder which had slightly more than 10,000 files. What I did was archive some older (and seldom accessed) files into a folder outside the Documents folder which brought my file count far below this maximum. I then set up a sync library to do the archived files by itself which works flawlessly. I find FolderShare to be a solid performer for me but as with everything YMMV.
This addressed the majority of the questions I have received about my new system build process so I hope this clears up any confusion. It does not address a question about my paperless office which is a topic for another day. I have written about my paperless office system before so that will have to do for now.