Transfer files between PCs is a task that can arise in several situations. For example, when we buy a new computer, and we want to use the data from the previous one. No matter if they are documents, photos, videos, music or any type of file. Depending on what we need to do and the means we have, there are various methods to perform this type of transfer. There are direct transfers between PCs, or through an intermediate medium and external devices. It is also possible to use cloud storage services. We review them.
How to transfer files between PCs
It is the simplest, most convenient and fastest way to transfer files from one PC to another PC. There are two basic ways to do it:
- A USB jumper cable. The industry offers cabling to connect Windows computers via USB. Mac to Mac using USB/Thunderbolt ports, or even between them. Windows computers will recognize the connection. In addition, it will only be a matter of installing a small included program to be able to synchronize them and transfer the files as if it were a typical explorer. On Mac, using Thunderbolt ports, you can connect two computers and transfer files easily by dragging them between them.
- A crossover network cable. A lesser known alternative among the public is to use a crossover Ethernet cable. By means of them, we can create a local area network without the need for a router or modem. In addition to sharing files between computers regardless of their operating system. It is an ideal method when we mix platforms. In fact, we can connect personal computers running Windows, macOS, or Linux indistinctly.
Using an external storage medium is surely the most used way to copy files from one PC to another. Especially when handling large files. The disadvantage compared to the above is that you cannot copy files between two PCs directly. In addition, we have to use an added and intermediate device to do it in two steps.
The advantage is that they are widespread and inexpensive. Similarly, they are not only used to transfer data between PCs, but also for data backup and backups. They are also used to install operating systems or other applications once they have been made bootable.
Optical media are less and less used because of their failures and limited capacity. However, from the rest, there is everything you want. You can use an external disk (hard disk or SSD) of large capacity and connected to a port as compatible as USB. You also have the option of a microSD (or SD) card, through a USB drive, that you can carry in a pocket. In any of these cases, the task is simple. You simply connect the external media to the first PC, copy the data to be transferred to it. Finally, you remove the drive and place it in the second PC to copy the data.
In addition to the above means, you can also use wireless storage units to transfer files without the need for cabling. Another great possibility are NAS. These are devices that add storage and connectivity and can also be used to transfer files of any size between PCs. Moreover, from anywhere in the world and regardless of the operating system you use.
This method takes advantage of the fact that all computers included in a local network can see each other once configured. Operating systems have built-in options for setting up home networks between devices. In this way, folders and files can be transferred very easily from the same file explorer. It works over wired LANs as well as wireless networks connected via Wi-Fi.
In addition to the operating systems’ own tools that can be used, there are applications such as those specialized in file transfers (FTP). These are ideal for moving data across networks, both Internet and local.
If you do not control this type of network management, there is third-party software to copy files of any size between two PCs. In this group, we have to highlight Send Anywhere. A fantastic and free application that only requires the two computers to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network. It has versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux and even has an extension for Chrome OS. It also has versions for mobiles, iOS or Android.
HDD or SSD
This method is recommended, especially when we are looking to replace the storage unit. However, we can also use it to move data from one PC to another PC. Here we have several possibilities. One possibility is to dismount the storage solution (hard disk or SSD) from the old computer and mount it on the new one. Something that is not always possible because of its format or because of an installation that is more complicated.
That is why in these cases we recommend connecting the drives externally. In fact, it is a natural method to—by the way – take advantage of the old hard disks that we are replacing with the solid state drives that today completely occupy the consumer storage market. We can do this using three effective methods:
- Cable. A simple eSATA (external SATA) cable or a SATA to USB interface adapter. They are very cheap and effective and are suitable for hard disks or SSDs.
- Enclosures. Another possibility, perhaps the most aesthetic, is to use a case-chassis where we will place the hard disk or SSD. It is simply a matter of removing a few screws because the circuitry is already included inside. We would use it to copy files between two PCs. In addition, it would serve us later to save data and backups or to install software from it.
- Dock. Something more expensive than a simple cable, but more versatile and aesthetic to place on a desktop, is a docking station. Its use is as simple as putting hard drives in their housings and connecting the dock to a PC, desktop or laptop. They offer multiple bays, support different interfaces and work on different platforms.
The cloud is here to stay. This includes servers installed in large data centers that provide computing, video, music, software, or games on demand. They also provide data storage. In addition, it is another very convenient solution to use it as a medium that can be accessed by any type of PC.
It is as simple as uploading files to the cloud from your old computer and downloading them to the new one. If you have a good Internet connection and both computers have synchronized folders locally, the upload/download will be done simultaneously gaining in speed.
The problem with this method is when the amount of data to move is massive, tens/hundreds of gigabytes, we must be subscribed to a paid service that offers sufficient capacity. In fact, the free ones are usually not very generous in the handling of large files.