To Clone or Not to Clone?

The answer is: it depends.  Just like with most things computer-related, there’s not a great absolute answer.  In this article, I will explore the pros and cons of cloning versus manually moving software and documents.

So, you’ve gotten a new computer, but all of your files, programs, and documents are on the old one.  What are your options?

Easy Transfer

If you have Windows 7 and haven’t upgraded to Windows 10, you’re in luck.  Windows 7 comes bundled with software that will automatically copy your settings, media, email, internet favorites, etc., over a network or with a USB / portable hard drive.   This method won’t transfer your programs; you’ll need to call Travel Tech for that one.


There are multiple third-party products that will attempt to clone a hard drive or windows installation from one computer to another.  While this is technically a ‘turnkey’ solution, there’s more to it than just that.

    *pros –

  • Quicker and easier solution
  • Comes ready to go out of the package
  • Software programs will transfer
    • *cons –

    • Copies *everything* – this includes temporary files, prefetch files, and errors.  This also duplicates your Windows key to the new computer, effectively throwing away the copy of Windows already installed there.  There are ways to save your key prior to doing this if you computer came ready-installed with Windows; we can help with this.  Assuming you didn’t buy the exact same computer again, the previous Windows installation will be tailored to the specific hardware it was installed on.  This can cause compatibility issues with new hardware.


While more labor-intensive, this option is generally the safest for optimizing the new system.  Files, documents, and settings can be transferred (including internet bookmarks with all major browsers).  Additional steps must be taken to transfer software programs if you don’t have the original installation keys. By choosing just the files you need, this prevents lots of clutter on the new system, and can save additional hard drive space for growth.

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