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I've bought a desktop-replacement laptop and I still have some 20-30 GB of data to transfer to it from my current computer. What's the most efficient way to do it?

Note the desktop is a 2001 computer with USB 1.0, so USB is out of the question.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Quickest way/way it should be done! - If Windows(Vista+) to Windows(Vista+), Bung in a cross over cable and enable file sharing. Set the location to home and. On your old machine, set the files you want to shared and on the new one, go to the network map and click on the old machine and you should see all the files.

If older, simply set up networking and sharing following any guide / wizard and copy the files that way.

Sometimes though, if having a hard time with network permission, I find the easiest thing to do is install Filezilla Server on the old machine and client on the new one. On the old one, set the root hard drive to share and just navigate to it from the client via the IP in the ftp address. This is messy compared to Windows folder sharing, but it usually just works when permissions or settings are getting in the way.

Lastly, if Desktop to Desktop, I would (and have in other posts) recommended that you just rip out the hard drive and put it in the new machine to do the transfer. You can always buy an Enclosure off of eBay and have it for future use. That aside, the fastest way would be - If your laptop is SATA, take out the hard drive, put it in your OLD machine as laptop SATA works with desktop SATA, and simply copy the files across then put it back in.

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The fastest option I could think of (when I had this problem last week) was a direct Gigabit Ethernet connection between the desktop and laptop. Once set up, and with jumbo frames enabled, it should be faster than copying to an external (USB) hard drive, and then copying again on to the laptop.

But in reality, it can be a pain to set up and slightly temperamental; if it sounds complicated then using an external hard-drive probably will be faster for you.

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Do you have an external hard drive? If not, get one. After you use it for this little job you'll be able to use it in the future for backups, etc. Now, as backwards as this may seem, I would just go with copying your data on the desktop onto the hard drive, and then copying this data onto the laptop.

It's certainly the quickest way to do it. It requires the least involvement and human time investment ;).

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Sounds good to me! – Andrei Rinea Dec 9 '09 at 0:09

that depends entirely on the means and connectivity at your disposal, but 20-30 GB ain't that much.

the fastest way would be using an eSata HDD, USB 2 is slower, but still, 20-30 GB shouldn't take too long.

as far as network connectivity is concerned, wired gigabit newtwork is fastest, wireless n is faster than b/g.

you can also burn to 5-7 DVDs, depending on the speed of your drive, this shouldn't take more than an hour.

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