Getting a new computer is an exciting event, especially if you're coming from an old system that can't even load a YouTube video without blue-screening on you. Booting up the operating system for the first time and seeing that clean, empty desktop is a glorious thing – until, of course, you realize how many files and programs you're missing from your old computer.

There are many methods to transfer files from PC to PC, including using PC migration software. Since it's a generally inevitable rite of passage for tech users at least once in their lifetime, here are some helpful tips to consider that will help make a current or future transition a more efficient process. 

Use migration software
If your computer know-how is about average, using migration software can be one of the simplest ways to move your stuff to a new computer. If you've had your old system for years, you've likely accumulated many gigabytes—maybe even terabytes—of information, all organized in a way that you're familiar with. Having to start from scratch on a new computer might interrupt your workflow or at the very least be annoying. Letting migration software move all the files and folders you need in a single process can save you time and the hassle of moving over everything individually.

Some migration tools also let you transfer over applications, a very helpful feature if you have programs that you absolutely must need. This saves you the hassle of reinstalling them individually on the new system. You can always go that route, though, as it helps keep your system clean by making sure you only install the programs you want, free of any problems that might have come up in the old computer. However, it does present its own set of concerns, especially if you no longer have necessary serial keys or product codes.

Use a key finder program
If you've had your computer for many years, then you likely have no idea where your installation CDs or product serial keys are unless you're amazingly organized. This makes it difficult to transfer your much-loved programs to a new computer. If you don't want to or simply can't use migration software to move over your programs, then you might consider manually reinstalling them on the new system. Without the serial keys, though, you might have to buy the license all over again.

If you don't have a copy of your original serial keys, you can use a simple key finder program. Many of these applications are free to use, and you can easily download them off the internet to your old computer. When you run your choice of key finder, the program will present you with detailed information about the software on your system – right down to the product keys. All you have to do is take those serial keys and input them into the programs on your new computer.

Keep in mind, though, that some software is tied to your computer's hardware, meaning the program knows if it's already on another system. If that's the case, you might not be able to use the key again until you deactivate the program on the old system.

Store files on an external hard drive or in the cloud
A common trend is to keep files on a secondary or external hard drive or in the cloud. This frees up space on the hard drive where you host your operating system and most or all of your programs. It also makes it extremely easy for you to access your files from any computer. All you have to do to access your files on your new system is hook up the external hard drive to your new PC or pull the files from the cloud.

Maintain your system
Your system is much easier to migrate if you manage it well throughout its life. Uninstall applications you don't need. Keep up a decent antivirus and antimalware program. Store what files and programs you can on a separate hard drive.

A new computer might seem like wiping the slate clean, but you don't have to give up all your precious files and applications. Knowing that one day you'll have to upgrade can inspire you to plan well for the eventual process, and in the meantime, you can manage your current system efficiently.

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