What do you do with an old computer? It s tempting to keep an old system simply because of the data stored on it. You likely have pictures and video, old software and documents, stuff that may serve no worldly purpose to anyone but yourself, but it s yours. On the other hand, the technological world moves on, and it s not wise to get too far behind. Upgrading your computer system is a necessity, but the question remains:  What about my data? 

Disk imaging software solves the issues of information portability, letting you migrate data from your existing system to a new one. And it even helps if you want to repurpose that old computer to use it as a server in setting up your own home network.

Use Disk Imaging Software
Chances are that you re somewhat like me: one of the 39 percent of computer users in the world still running Windows XP at home. There s no shame in that. Windows XP is a solid operating system, but so was Windows 98SE and the world had a hard time moving away from that, too. The technological divide between SE and XP finally forced everyone over, and time has proven us better for having taken the step. The same is true of this current divide.

Disk imaging software came into relevance about the time most users were transitioning from SE to XP. At the time, I did my own data migration. I found what I considered the best disk imaging software at the time, and with an external hard drive and a little tech-savvy elbow grease, I was able to create a clone hard drive and run my old computer as a virtual machine on my new computer.

If you need to upgrade your computer, you can still follow basically the same strategy. For example, I m planning to move the data from my old Windows XP computer to a newer, larger system soon. Just like the last time, I plan to image my old drive and mount it on the new, but this time I will be able to keep the virtual machine mounted through the hard drive cloning software so I don t have to purchase all new licenses for my old software. My existing software will simply run on an imaged version of my old computer mounted on the new computer s hard drive. It s not as difficult as it sounds, and the best disk imaging software makes the process manageable.

Create a Home Network
After moving your data, you still have a perfectly functional computer and nothing for it to do. Rather than sticking that old computer in a closet to be forgotten for the next ten years, you can use it as a home media server to stream audio and video from the web straight to your TV. Plus all of those pictures and video you ve been saving are now available for viewing on your TV.

As a media server your old computer also becomes a network share point for your printer so everyone is not constantly tethered to the printer while working on a project. It can even serve as a backup location for the other computers in your home. Similar home media network setups cost hundreds of dollars, yet you likely already have the necessary equipment wasting space in your closet or attic.

Creating your own home network is something you can do today. Disk imaging software can be more than just backup software for your new computer. Almost as a bonus, the shared hard drive of your old computer becomes a place in the home from which you can push programs and imaged files to other computers. Your home media server can be made to function like a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, which is a better option than working with an external hard drive because the computers are already connected through your router.

Installing the right disk imaging software is the best place to start if you re thinking of creating your own home network. In some cases you are able to purchase multiple licenses if you plan to set it up on multiple computers, but overall you must be aware of the software s minimum system requirements. Some that will work great on your new computer might be useless on that old desktop PC. In some cases you may end up choosing different software for different computers, just make sure to save your images in a basic .iso format that can be read between all of the machines on your home network.

Home computer migration issues are nothing new, though some of the possibilities are. Thanks to good disk imaging software, data migration is no longer so frightening as it once was, and now provides an opportunity to enhance your home computing experience in a meaningful way. In today s digital world of high-speed internet and HD televisions, you really do have a lot of available hardware in your home. Once you move your data from that old computer, you can use it to connect the electronics in your home to create your own home network.

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