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?