Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Seamlessly Replace a Computer by Copying These 3 Folders

The reason people often hang on to computers until they are outdated or fail is typically because moving to a new computer is tedious! There are a variety of personalized settings that need to be configured, each of which take time. Some examples of these settings are:
  • Power modes
  • Desktop backgrounds
  • Web browser favorites
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Screen resolution
There is also the task of installing proprietary software and configuring applications. In other words, it can be a lot of work moving to a new computer or laptop. All of these tasks are reasons why we avoid replacing a device for as long as we can.

Even considering all the work it takes, it is ALWAYS better to move to a new device before the existing one fails. This ensures a more seamless process, that data is not lost, and that application configurations can be compared so they are set up exactly the same. When replacing a computer, it is important to know the 3 folders that are most important to copy to the new device.

Seamlessly Replace a Computer by Copying These 3 Folders


This is the most obvious folder to copy since it is the default location for saved files. This folder contains documents, photos, videos, and music and should have nearly all files saved locally. This folder is easy to access, listed in the Start menu, and pinned as a shortcut in a Windows Explorer window.


Even with the best of intentions, files inevitably end up on the desktop. It may be something downloaded for temporarily reference, a short term save location or an accident. Whatever the reason, once the file is there, it often remains there and never gets moved to a longer term storage place. If you ever stop to take the time to really look through the desktop file list you might be surprised what you find!


The AppData folder is a folder you may have never noticed. It is located within the user account folder and it holds the data and settings of many local applications. Most programs store information inside a folder they create which is located inside the Local folder, under the AppData folder. Occasionally you will also find items in the Roaming folder. To be safe, copy the entire AppData folder, with the three sub-folders, so you have everything you may need.

To navigate to the AppData folder:
  • Open Windows Explorer
  • Expand the local disk (C:)
  • Expand the Users folder
  • Click on the appropriate user folder
  • The AppData folder should be listed in the right panel

NOTE: If you do not see the AppData folder listed, you will need to change the folder options to show hidden folders. To do this, open the Control Panel, click on "File Explorer Options". In the File Explorer Options window, click the View tab. Under the "Hidden files and folders" heading select "Show hidden files, folders, or drives" and click the OK button.

Special Note

One last thing worth mentioning is checking where application data is stored if you have any propriety programs. Not all programs store information in the AppData folder. Most software applications will tell you where their data is being stored. For example, pressing the F2 button in QuickBooks reveals where the file is being stored.

When upgrading a computer or laptop, there are quite a few things to consider. If you plan the replacement device ahead of time, the process will be far easier than trying to recover from a catastrophic loss. Still, it is a process, and using the tips above will help ensure you capture all of the folders you need when making the move to a new device. 

As always, having the information to accomplish something in the most thorough manner can make all the difference!

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