SmartMoney: Long-suffering Windows users can only dare to dream of Mac’s ease-of-use

“One of the biggest obstacles to buying a new PC is the drudgery of moving all your programs, files and settings from the old machine to the new one. It can take days to move every file using disks, then reinstall all your programs and re-create all the preferences and settings you have built up over the years. You may also have to download and reapply numerous patches and upgrades to your programs,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for

“This is the sort of thing your operating system ought to handle with ease. But the ‘Files and Settings Transfer Wizard’ that Microsoft builds into Windows XP doesn’t even try to move software to a new machine. And I have never been able to get it to work properly even for moving files and settings,” Mossberg reports. “Techies, and those with techies in their employ, sometimes move the entire hard disk from the old computer into the new one, configuring it as a secondary or ‘slave’ drive, from which data files, and even programs, with settings intact, can be accessed as before. But this technique is beyond the knowledge and ability of mainstream users.”

“Another option is to buy an external hard disk, attach it to your old PC, and copy to it all of your key data files and settings


  1. Well, it’s a little harder than that. But if you copy the library folders over as well, you’re a long way to getting it done. A better choice is to mirror the hard drives. Just move everything over with one of the available programs that can mirror the hard drive. (PowerQuest has software for PCs which can do this, and Mossberg should have known that.)

    Of course, then I’d do an install of Panther again with the archive and install feature (maintaining user and network settings). That should do the job in a couple hours. Nothing on the PC side can compare.

  2. I’ve been using Carbon Copy Cloner for this. Works a treat. I now use the old machine as a spare and backup my boot volume to it now and again in case anything nasty happens. It’s marvellous. It’s just a shame about the G5 fans going full speed in target disk mode.

  3. I too am a fan of Carbon Copy Cloner.

    I took delivery of a refurbished PowerBook 17 1.33Ghz yesterday from Apple ($500 off). I wiped the hard drive, connected a FireWire cable to my iMac, then rebooted in FireWire mode. Carbon Copy Cloner duplicated my system EXACTLY over to the PowerBook. It was even smart enough not to mess with system specific files (like battery software, energy saver settings, etc).

    In less than a half hour I booted into a clone. Couldn’t be easier. Couldn’t be happier. ..note to self.. go donate enough $ for a pizza to the author tonight.

  4. I got lazy with my new PowerBook. I normally re-install all my software fresh. This time I dragged the icons over (ethernet’s an option too–not just Firewire). Worked great! Even in OS 9 I wouldn’t have dared that, much less Windows. But OS X is the good life.

    I picked certain items from Library > Preferences to move too. And of course all my Documents and music.

  5. Panther’s Disk Copy also allows the cloning of hard drives via it’s disk image creation and restore feature. Just boot up the old Mac with the Panther install CD, plug in an iPod or external FireWire drive, run Disk Copy (from the Installer menu) and create a disk image of your old Mac’s internal hard drive to the external drive (or a secondary internal drive that you want to move to the new Mac).

    Then Boot your new Mac with the Panther CD, run Disk Copy and restore the image to the new Mac’s hard drive. Target Disk mode also comes in handy for this process in certain circumstances. Provided the new Mac is compatible with the version of Mac OS X that is installed on your old Mac, there is no need to set up or reinstall ANYTHING. My experience is that Mac OS X installs are model independant.

    I played around with a developer preview of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther by installing it on my iPod while it was connected to my G4 tower and then booting from the iPod on either my G4 or my iBook with no problems. I would experiment with the DP of Panther on my iBook via the iPod during the day and then boot my G4 off the iPod at night and continue working as though it was the same computer I had used during the day. Try that with Windows, Linux or any other version of Unix I say!

  6. My Panther image clean installed on a G5 dual and Carbon Copy Clonered over to my 400MHz G5 worked on the G4 with no problems. I though the install might only copy stuff specific to the G5, but I think all images work on all machines.

    The G4 was much more responsive ith Panther than it ever was with Jaguar.

  7. I would like to see Apple run a series of commercials highlighting Mac OS X. It is ready for prime time now with Panther. They could have a big flash one showing all the “wow” factors like Expose’. Then have a series showing how to do common things.

    Of course as mac users we all know how to do all these things but think of the possible impact for Windows users or people just thinking of getting into computing.

    e.g. This is how you get digital photos out of your camera and into your computer. 1. hook up your camera like this. 2. Click on this button.

    This is how you put the photo you took in an email. 1. Select the photo. 2. Click on this button.

    This is how you turn off your computer. 1. press the same button you used to turn it on (Windows users please do not do this as it could break your computer) 2. Click on this button.


    Everybody would feel they already knew how to run a mac and the windows users would compare in their heads to how complicated it is on their current machines.

  8. It is not only Firewire that had this. There was also SCSI that had the ability on portables to give the ability to turn your Powerbook into a mountable hard drive. Worked well. So, for the LONGEST time, Apple has had better abilities than Windows.

  9. “It can take days to move every file using disks, then reinstall all your programs and re-create all the preferences and settings you have built up over the years’

    Has this guy tried to do this? It doesnt take an hour I think. And I helped my mother in law try to get her stuff form an old power mac to her new Imac and it was actually impossible. I dont know anyting about apples so I had to call for help and most of her old programs wouldnt work anyway. I get that its easy to transfer stuff from a recent one to another recent one but whats the point its not like you buy 2 new ones is it.

  10. I am a Windows network administrator in charge of a network of a few hundred Windows users, as well as all of my family and neighbors, and I have to say that Windows is why I am working. I just switched to a Powerbook G4 15″ and I have to say that I have never actually loved a computer until now. I will NEVER switch back to Windows as my main platform. Surfing, working, playing, EVERYTHING is just utter bliss on a Mac! Period! I talk to lifelong Mac users that I have had to show a Popup to, since they have no idea what one is. Sure I have had Mac crashes, while running Virtual PC, but nothing like Windows. I turn it on, and it starts working. What more could I want out of life.

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