How to Transfer Files From PC to PC

Move data from one computer to another

Wireless transmission - stock photo

Qi Yang/Getty Images

PRODUCT DISCLOSURE $

There are several ways to easily set up a new computer or transfer files from PC to PC using a cloud storage service, transfer cables, or external hard drives. Each method has its pros and cons, but all are equally effective.

How to Transfer Files From PC to PC Using a Cloud Storage Service

Rather than storing data solely on your PC, data can be safely deposited with your cloud provider and even recovered if you suffer issues with your PC. One free-to-use cloud storage option is Dropbox, which allows you to transfer files from PC to PC.

Using Dropbox to Transfer Files from PC to PC

Dropbox makes transferring files easy, because you can store anything you may need in the cloud and access it from anywhere you have an internet connection.

  1. Download and install the Dropbox desktop app on both computers.

    Dropbox Installation
  2. Make sure the Dropbox folder is present on the hard drive of both computers, and the Dropbox icon appears in the Windows system tray.

  3. Sign in to your Dropbox account on both computers after installation or sign up for an account.

    Dropbox In Start Menu
  4. Open My Dropbox on the computer containing the files you want to transfer.

    Open Dropbox
  5. Open File Explorer and select any files or folders you want to migrate.

    Open File Explorer
  6. Drag-and-drop selected items to the Dropbox folder on your hard drive to upload them to your Dropbox account.

    Drag-andDrop Into Dropbox
  7. As long as the PCs you're using have internet connections, and both computers are signed into Dropbox, all your files should transfer successfully.

    Depending on the amount of data transferred from PC to PC, the process may take some time and can be impacted by your internet connection quality. Keep both computers signed in, make sure they stay on, and avoid changing any settings during the transfer.

  8. You'll know the transfer process is done when a green circle with a checkmark appears beside the data in your Dropbox folder on the computer you’re transferring to.

  9. You should then see the files and folders on both PCs. You can leave the data in Dropbox or copy and paste them into the desired location on the new computer.

Before deleting any files or performing a hard drive wipe, sign out of Dropbox and uninstall the app from your old computer first. If both computers are still signed in, any synced files will be removed on both computers.

How to Transfer Files from PC to PC Using Transfer Cables

While this method could be considered old-school, transfer cables provide a reliable way to transfer data from one computer to another. Even without an internet connection, a transfer cable lets you move files between PCs that are physically close to each other. Transfers cables can also transfer data from Windows XP up through Windows 10 using built-in software to move files.

  1. Make sure both PCs are turned on and Windows is working on each PC.

  2. Attach the USB cable to a USB port on your new computer.

  3. Wait for the new computer’s operating system to register that the transfer cable has been connected, then attach the USB data transfer cable to your old computer.

  4. Select the Windows Start button. On your Windows 7 PC, search for "Windows Easy Transfer" using Windows search, then press Enter.

    Windows Easy Transfer

    If you're using Windows 10, Easy Transfer is not available. However, Microsoft has partnered with Laplink to offer discounted subscriptions to PCmover Express, which will transfer your files in much the same manner.

  5. The Easy Transfer wizard will load on your old PC. Follow the prompts to be guided through the transfer process. You'll need to decide what data to transfer from your old computer to your new computer.

  6. Wait for the file transfer to be completed. Make sure both PCs stay on and check your new PC to ensure all the files have been moved.

How to Transfer Files from PC to PC Using an External Hard Drive

If you need to purchase an external hard drive to transfer data from one computer to another, this method can quickly become more expensive than other options. However, it is one of the most reliable.

Saving your files on an external hard drive also provides a great backup option if the data is ever erased from either PC. Transferring your files to your new machine is as easy as dragging-and-dropping them into your new PC.

How to Transfer Files From Your Old PC to an External Hard Drive

The first step in moving files from one computer to another using an external hard drive is to copy the files you want to move to the external drive. It's a simple process, but can be time consuming if you're moving lots of files or very large files.

  1. Connect the external hard drive to your old PC.

  2. Select the Windows Start button.

    Windows Start Button
  3. Open File Explorer.

    File Explorer Window
  4. If the external hard drive is correctly connected to the PC, an External Drive Icon will be visible in File Explorer’s list of devices. Ensure there's enough free space for your data.

    External Hard Drive

    If you are unsure which icon will open your external hard drive, look for an icon with the name of the device. Popular brands of external hard drives include Western Digital, HP, or Seagate.

  5. Select the files you want to transfer and copy them to the external hard drive.

  6. Transfer a single file by dragging-and-dropping it into the external hard drive. Alternatively, you can move multiple files by holding down the Ctrl key, clicking each file, then dragging them into the external hard drive.

    Drag-And-Drop Single File

Transfer Files From Your External Hard Drive to Your New PC

Once you've copied the files from your old PC, it's time to copy them again, but to your new PC. The process works in much the same was as adding files to the external hard drive.

  1. Connect the external hard drive to your new PC.

  2. Open File Explorer on your new computer and browse through your folders to find the location for your imported files to be copied.

    File Explorer
  3. Return to the Start Menu and open a second File Explorer window. Locate the Local Disk C: icon under This PC to make sure there is enough free space for your data.

    Open Second File Explorer Window
  4. From the new File Explorer window, select the external hard drive.

    Select Hard Drive Icon
  5. Navigate the hard drive’s data until you find the folder with the files you want to import. Drag and drop the selected files from the external hard drive to copy them to your new PC.

    Move Files From Hard Drive To PC
  6. Close both File Explorer windows when all your data has been transferred.