A special USB cable is needed to get data from a PC to laptop

ASK JIM

July 27, 2006|By JIM COATES

I have a desktop computer, and I want to transfer all the information from my hard drive to a laptop. What is the procedure?

- Dianna Joslin

The safest, easiest and probably least costly way to move data from one Windows XP computer to another one running Windows XP is to acquire a specially wired USB cable that plugs into USB ports on both machines (Don't use an ordinary USB cable; it could damage your computers.). These special cables also work between Macintosh desktops and laptops running OS X. They also can be used to move data from a Mac OS X computer to a Windows PC.

Consider something along the lines of the new SimpleTransfer Data Transfer and Synchronization Utility from SimpleTech (www.simpletech.com) that I bought through Amazon.com for about $30.

This device consists of a 6-foot cable with those USB connectors at both ends and a small box at one end that includes the special wiring configurations and hardware-enabled software needed to make the transfers.

With Computer A connected to Laptop B, a display pops up showing the contents of one of the computers in a pane at the top and the contents of the other machine below. Files can be dragged and dropped from the top pane into the bottom pane (or vice versa) to copy them from one machine to the other.

Beyond this simple tool for dragging and dropping files, the SimpleTech product also includes modules to synchronize Microsoft Outlook between a Windows XP desktop and XP laptop. That lets users work on the desktop and then quickly move all of the calendar, contact, e-mail and to-do lists onto the laptop. Upon return, the laptop is plugged into the desktop and synchronized again to update the desktop computer.

For the more intermediate-type computer users, the gadget includes a system and application mover that will attempt to migrate the programs and their support files from one computer to another. This requires quite a bit more stretch than do simple file transfers, but it is sure to interest many folks.

I had to ditch my computer because of virus problems. I have all my Kodak pictures on it and have not been able to get them out or transfer them to the new computer. We have tried many suggestions and nothing has worked. Any ideas?

- Alyce Litz

Because Kodak enjoys unparalleled name recognition when it comes to home-picture taking, the company's well-known Picture CDs get used a lot by newcomers to digital photography, who come to depend too much on using Kodak's software to view their snapshots and to keep track of them.

Bravo to Kodak for helping newcomers enjoy the excitement of digital photography, but brickbats to the company for doing it all in a way that is unlike the other stuff one does on a computer such as find files, save files, rename files and so on.

In short, your confusion stems from using Kodak's software that works with some formats that are different from those used by most of the rest of the world for storing digital pictures. So, when you decided to change computers, there was no way for the new machine to recognize the photographs stored on the old machine.

Kodak's Picture Disk software that came with your Kodak Photo CDs has routines built in that will save the day by transforming your pictures into the .jpg or .bmp format. You can save these files onto discs using your CD-R drive. The pictures can then be copied to the new machine to put you back in the game.

When you run the Kodak Picture Disk software, look for the tab for Contents on the far right of the display. Pick this, and you will get a file-finding window that points to your photo files. When the Contents module has opened the folders with your pictures, look again to the far right of the display for the Save As command. Pick that, and you will get a display with all of the files in the folder highlighted for action.

You can then use the same file-finder display to move the images onto your desktop or some other folder and then save them in the .jpg or the .bmp format.

Keep in mind that when you move these picture files onto your new computer using the CD, all the images will be tagged "read only" by Windows. You'll need to change that before you can edit the images in any way. Give a file a right-click and look for the Read Only and Read/Write checkmarks to change these settings.

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Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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