What Is a Computer Migration?

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  • Written By: Lonnie C. Best
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 11 March 2014
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Computer migration – also referred to as personal computer (PC) migration, data migration, or software migration – is the moving of data and applications between two different computers. Reasons for requiring a computer migration are varied; two of the most common reasons are the purchase of a new PC and the upgrading of PCs in a business environment. These situations could create the need to transfer all of the information from the older computer systems to the new ones. The migration of data can be performed manually, though full computer migration is usually facilitated by the aid of a software package and hardware, such as a data transfer cable.

Usually, transferring all of the files or applications between two computers is not necessary. Transfer of data can either be avoided entirely or the movement can be accomplished through means such as external memory devices. Some companies offer Internet storage where data can be uploaded from the old machine and then downloaded onto the new machine, negating the need for a full computer migration.

Other times, though, these methods are not feasible. When many applications are manually copied to a new system, for example, the applications can revert to their original settings or fail to work entirely. In these cases, certain information, such as registry data, needs to be transferred directly to the second machine. It is in this type of circumstance when computer migration becomes necessary.


For users of personal computers outside of a business environment, computer migration is generally not an issue. Upgrading or changing computers generally requires only the migration of certain data, such as documents and photos, that can easily be accomplished through means other than full migration. User environments can usually be easily replicated on the new machine, and therefore do not require direct transfer from the older system. For an upgrade to a computer with an operating system already installed, transfer of the operating system (OS) and its subcomponents also tends to be undesirable; applications can usually be easily reinstalled on the new system and reconfigured to match the old settings.

In a business environment, upgrading to new machines may require a computer migration more often than not, as many more files and important application and operating system settings and configurations need to be replicated on the new computer systems. Whereas a computer migration may be performed by the individual owner in a home-based migration scenario, the operation will usually be performed by a professional in a business setting. Many times, this type of migration is handled by an information technology (IT) department.


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