Prevent critical information from being lost when performing desktop and laptop migration.


While many tools, systems and applications are available to ease the process of moving a user’s information, settings, files, programs and critical elements from one computer to the next, they really don’t address all user requirements. These 10 steps can help properly migrate laptops and desktops to ensure no information is left behind.

1) Use a Checklist

Checklists ensure critical information isn’t forgotten in an environment full of distractions. Clients will want to talk about more than just configuring DNS or migrating from an old to new computer. It’s important to engage with them on day’s topics, but in order to prevent high demand tasks from being forgotten, checklists keep you on track through every interruption.

2) Plan installation media beforehand

After learning you’ll be migrating a user’s settings or data, request that they save all original installation media as far in advance as possible. This includes application DVDs, Microsoft Office CD-ROMs, etc. Without installation media on hand, migration can take an entire day as you work to track down old and outdated installation files.

3) Inspect network configuration

A common mistake in client migration is assuming all systems tap DHCP services on the network. Some users still use DVRs, PCAnywhere and other applications and equipment that requires static IP address configuration. In some cases, computers have manually configured DNS addresses, but always check a computer’s IP settings before replacing it.

4) Operate a software inventory

Before beginning a task to migrate user settings, information and data, perform an inventory of installed software on the old machine. Use free tools or review a client’s desktop, start menu or quick launch tool bar for commonly used applications. After compiling a list, check with the user to make sure you know every program that needs to be reinstalled on the new computer.

5) Compile license keys in advance

Registration codes and license and product keys are a must for software inventory and installation media. Ensure you or your clients have the necessary documentation when you begin a client migration or you’ll lose hours searching for necessary licensing information.

6) Re-map network drives

Users become dependent on mapped drives. Unless drive mappings are replicated on new systems, applications, backups and other programs, they will not work properly. Users may not know that clicks connect to different systems, so be sure to remap all network drives to prevent user frustration.

7) Record all printers in use

One of the most common callback causes is forgotten printers. It isn’t wise to assume that just because you installed all printers in a client’s office that you’ve connected all the printers the client requires. Users must print to printers on different floors and different departments frequently. Which configuring printers on new machines, be sure to identify proper default devices.

8) Install needed third-party utilities

Users may not understand that free, popular third-party programs like Adobe Reader or Apple QuickTime  are needed in order for some files to work properly. Be sure to include popular third-party utilities in your migration checklist.

9) Note computer, work group and domain names

Best business practices won’t apply in every organization. On many occasions clients will use nonstandard computers, work groups and domain name conventions. Review a computer’s name, domain configuration and work group before beginning client migration. It’s very important, as files or printers share by a system that is being replaced won’t be accessible to other users if the same configuration is not replicated properly.

10) Never forget the .NK2 file

The most understandable annoyance users might possibly have when switching computer is the loss of autofill information in Microsoft Outlook. Users usually don’t add everyone to their contact list frequently, so many email addresses are lost if Outlooks .NK2 file isn’t migrated in their new device. The .NK2 file must be migrated back to the same location and the file name must match the Outlook profile name in order for it to work properly on the new system.