Patrick Marshall answers your personal technology questions each week.

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Q: Well it’s that time. I have nearly 10 years on my HP Home Premium and just purchased a new HP Desktop with Windows 10. I have several questions in regard to the new PC setup. I do have a Seagate 500G portable external hard drive on my current computer. I purchased a 2-terabyte Seagate for my new computer.

  1.  What is the easiest way to transfer all of my data from my old PC to my new PC without having to pay someone to do it and be without a computer for 2-3 days.
  2. I was also told I cannot transfer programs from my old computer to the new one unless I have the “key code” for each program and would have to re-download every program.
  3.  I was also told that the new computer does not come with any Office programs. Is there a comparable program I can install and also has the capability to read my current documents?
  4.  Is Windows 10 an easy transition for users of Windows 7?
  5. Last, what do you recommend I do with the old PC. Is there an easy method to erase all the personal data and files, etc., I have on the computer before disposing?

— Ted Williams

A: That’s a lot of questions, but ones often encountered all at once by those moving to new computers. I’ll answer each as concisely as I can.

1. You should be able to simply connect your external drive to your new computer and access its files. As for data that’s on the old computer’s internal drive, the simplest way to move it is to either connect the two computers on a network and move folders using Windows File Explorer. If you can’t connect to a network you may want to use a data-transfer program such as PC Mover from Laplink (, which allows you to move folders using a provided cable and which has a price tag of $59.95.

2. Programs can’t be simply moved to a new computer, since there are files that need to be installed to the operating system itself. You’ll need to reinstall all programs.  Updated Sept. 14, 2018: The folks at Laplink inform me that current versions of PC Mover support the transfer of installed applications from one computer to another.

3. There is open-source software that can open Microsoft Office files. You may want to check out OpenOffice (

4. Personally, I found the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 to be very easy. In fact, with Windows 10 Microsoft “undid” many of the unpopular interface changes it made with Windows 8, returning to an interface more familiar to Windows 7 users.

5. Recycle that old PC. Just search the internet for “recycle PC XXXX” and replace “XXXX” with the name of your closest city. Most recycle centers also wipe your drive clean for you, though you’ll want to check to make sure. If you want to make certain of this, however, you can always do the drive wiping yourself. You’ll find a number of commercial and free packages available by searching for “drive wiping software” if you want to take this on. For my part, I just give it to the recycle center. No state secrets on my computers.

Q: I’m using Office 365 and I’m generally happy with it. Recently, however, a glitch started appearing when I open Word documents. When I launch the document from File Explorer, sometimes Word tries to open the document twice. The first time it opens fine, but the second time it reports that it can’t open the file because another user is using it. No big deal, but how do I get Word to stop this behavior?
— A. Sypesteyn, Bainbridge Island

A: Sounds like there’s some confusion between Word and File Explorer. I’d suggest repairing the installation of Word.

To do so, assuming you’re using Windows 10, right-click on the Windows icon in the System Tray and then click on Apps and Features. Scroll down until you see Microsoft Office 365, then click on it. Next click on Modify. After approving the request that pops up to allow Office 365 to make changes to your computer, you’ll be offered a choice between a Quick Repair and an Online Repair. Try Quick Repair first. If that doesn’t fix the problem, try Online Repair, which requires an active online connection.