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I'm not sure that the title is very explicit, so I'll try to explain briefly my problem is/what I'm trying to achieve: Like most of you, I guess, I have had several computers in the course of my digital life. However, each time I have upgraded to a new computer, I have kept using the two most recent in parallel and I have never transferred all the files/documents onto the newer machine, just those I was working on. As a result I now have 6 computers, ranging from about 1993 (Win 3.1) to 2011, who each retain a certain time-frame of digital data.

I also have a Linux server box at home running 24/7 for other purposes and with plenty of storage, and I was thinking to use it to bring all this information together in one place, so that I don't have to wire up again one of the old PCs when I just want to access one of its files or programs for 2 mins.

So my question is: how would you handle this? Simple plain copy of the files on the server? Copy of disk images and mount them when necessary? Virtual Machines to keep the OS "alive"?

I would love to have some hints/advice, to get it right the first time, before starting this big data migration!! Thanks!

UPDATE: I'm a little bit disappointed with the answers that I have received as I was expecting more personal feedback/experience. So in fact the question would be: what do you do once you buy a new computer? Migrate all your documents to the new one? Archive them to CD/DVD/HDD/NAS?

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This isn't really an answer, but personally I'd probably go the VM route just for fun. What you'll probably want to look into is moving all the data to one location, probably with rsync. –  Rob Nov 4 '11 at 14:18
    
Well actually it's a route I was really considering, as you would like to preserve the files (ie documents), but also the environment (OS, programs installed, ...). My only concern is that this way, documents would still be "trapped" in the virtual machine, though still better than the physical one ;-) –  Federico Nov 4 '11 at 14:27
    
All "trapped" in one place though. –  Rob Nov 4 '11 at 14:29
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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 4 '11 at 14:15

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1 Answer

You might consider installing Samba on your linux box. This would enable you to file-serve to your Windows network. It would be fairly straightforward to provide a separate named share for each old machine's data. Samba is convenient though not particularly high-performance.

Another way forward would be to ftp-serve the files. This might be appropriate, particularly if you only occasionally use the old data.

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Hi, thanks for the reply, though my question is not as much how to make the data available (I already have samba running on the server), but rather what to share: whole contents of the disk, only the documents, disk-image that can be mounted on a virtual machine? –  Federico Nov 4 '11 at 14:22
    
Rob's answer above touched a nerve with me. Do it - it will be fun :) –  Hugh Jones Nov 4 '11 at 14:29
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