Programs that make it easier to move files from one computer to another.

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I had an email exchange with a reader recently about making backups of a computer’s hard drive and then restoring those backup files when moving to a new computer.

The reader said he took the hard drive out of his old laptop and, using a USB cable, he was able to move his documents, music and pictures to the new laptop. But he asked if there is any way to move things like his email and applications from one PC to another.

He was doing things the right way, I said.

I also told him to think of the situation as a good time to start fresh with a pristine copy of Windows and new installations of all his applications.

I realize that finding installers and license numbers for all your applications can be a pain, but it will be much better for you in the long run.

The reader told me he’d do some research and if he found a method he liked, he’d let me know. I told him I’d do the same.

We actually found the same solution: a suite of programs from a company called Zinstall.

Depending your situation, Zinstall has a few apps that can help migrate your old programs to a new PC, but they’re not free or cheap. A copy of Zinstall WinWin, which is what you’ll need to transfer from one PC to another, costs $119.

The transfer can happen wirelessly if both PCs can boot up and get online, or you can use an ethernet cable.

If your old computer won’t start, but the hard drive is still good, you can take it out and use a USB hard drive adapter to connect the old drive to the new PC to do the transfer.

You’ll need to have Windows installed on your new PC before using Zinstall.

Macintosh users have an easier time with these tasks. I’ve been using a Mac app called Carbon Copy Cloner for years. It does all the transferring of data, including the Mac operating system, and it works perfectly (in my experience).