With the rise of new technologies in the consumer electronics world, it’s no surprise that consumers are buying the latest laptops or PCs as soon as they’re released. While it may be a good idea to hang on to your old computer, many people would rather get rid of it and remove the data from it. But how do you safely transfer your existing data from computer to computer and wipe data from your old computer?
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Thankfully, there are various ways to transfer your data using your computer’s native apps and other external methods. We’ll cover these methods to make the process easier for you! Let’s explore how to transfer your data from PC to PC, Mac to Mac, PC to Mac, as well as some ways to safely delete your old data to prevent it from being stolen.
NOTE: It is essential to know that transferring data between computers, or any device, doesn’t always go as smoothly as you’d like. You may run into issues not touched on here. This how-to is the best-case scenario and does not account for any potential problems or other issues one may face. Attempting any of this is done AT YOUR OWN RISK, we bear no responsibility for any issues or problems that may arise from you doing so.
Below are some data transfer options based on what laptop you have and the operating system you use on your device.
It’s simple to transfer data from Windows PC to Windows PC — the easiest way is to rely on Microsoft OneDrive, a cloud storage service. If you have a Microsoft account, it comes with 5 GB of storage for free.
If you find yourself with an excess of 5 GB to store, Microsoft also offers paid options for storage. You can purchase 100 GB a month for around $2 or 1 TB for $7 per month, which comes with a paid subscription to Office 365.
You can quickly transfer files from one PC to another using OneDrive. However, keep in mind that your settings and applications may not carry over to your new computer.
Another easy way to transfer your data is to purchase an external hard drive. Plug it into your computer, move important files into the hard drive storage, and transfer them to your brand new computer. Additionally, you can use a USB-to-USB bridging cable to connect your computers. The transfer process is cheap and straightforward — software on the old and new computers can walk you through the process.
Suppose these options aren’t suitable for you. In that case, you can also use PCmover Professional or Macrium Reflect, software that allows you to transfer data safely.
It’s straightforward to move your files from Mac to Mac. The most straightforward way to transfer files is to use the Migration Assistant.
To find this on your Mac, go to your Finder window > Applications > Utilities > then double-click Migration Assistant to begin the process.
Onscreen instructions make it a simple process and tell you exactly how to get your data over to your new Mac.
The best way to handle data transfers from PC to Mac and vice versa is to use the operating systems’ native tools. It will just take some tweaks in your settings to prepare to transfer your files.
The first thing to make sure of is that both computers are connected to the same local network. If they are not, you’ll have to rely on a third-party solution instead.
Make these setting changes to begin:
- Click on your Apple icon and hit System Preferences > Sharing.
- Click on the checkbox that says “File Sharing.”
- Click on Options.
- Click the checkbox that says, “Share files and folders using SMB.”
- In the Windows File Sharing section, select the users you want to share information with.
- Enter the right passwords and click “Done.”
Now, you’re going to choose which folders you’d like to share using the Plus (+) or Minus (-) buttons.
The next step is to open up your new PC and follow these steps:
- Open File Explorer
- In the address bar, type “\\” followed by the IP address of your Mac, and enter the credentials.
- File Explorer will show any shared folders from your Mac. You can edit, move, or copy folders like any other Windows folder.
- Right-click on a folder and select “Map network drive.”
- Choose any drive to store your folder in.
- Now, drag and drop files into one of your local folders.
Then, you’re set! Your Mac files should be visible on your new PC.
Now, let’s cover some of the ways you can remove data from your old computer to prevent any data breaches.
Removing your personal data is especially vital if you plan on giving away or reselling your old computer — as many as 10% of all used hard drives sold online still contain personal information, which a new owner could easily access.
Below are some of the basic steps you can follow to remove any sensitive data from your original laptop or desktop computer so strangers cannot access it.
- For Windows: Try File Shredder, which is free software you can download to remove sensitive data, such as tax documents or credit card information.
- For Mac: You can remove files by putting them in the trash bin and selecting the “Secure Empty Trash” option.
- Turn on data encryption: For Windows, visit Settings > About. Follow the steps to encrypt your drive. For Mac, visit System Preferences > Security and Privacy > FileVault and click “Turn on FileVault.” Follow the accompanying instructions.
You’ll also want to deauthorize your computers since you may be limited to a certain number of devices connected to your iCloud or Microsoft account. Deauthorize your old device before setting up your new device.
It’s also essential to delete any programs from your old computer. The last step is to wipe your hard drive by performing a factory reset. Keep in mind that every computer is unique in its own way, and deleting data may vary. It’s also suggested that you bring your device to a tech store if you need assistance with the data destruction process.
As a last resort, if you’re unsure if all sensitive data has been removed, you can drill holes into your hard drive or bang it with a hammer a few times. Physically destroying your hard drive guarantees strangers won’t be able to access your information.
To dispose of your old computer now that you’re set with a brand new one, consider trading it in if it’s in good condition or recycling your computer. BestBuy, Amazon, Apple, and Staples are viable options for recycling or trading in your old devices. Now that you’re all set enjoy browsing and working on your new computer!