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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How to switch to a new laptop in 5 minutes

1:20:00 PM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
Switching to a new computer can be a painful experience, and my own previous experiences have been just that. I actually know quite a lot of people who prefer to stick with their old and low-performing computers simply because it is such a cumbersome task to switch to a new one.

I got my new work laptop, a Dell Latitude E4300, yesterday. For me, switching to a new (PC) computer has never been as easy and painless as this time. In total, it took me about 30 minutes to get productive on my new laptop, with all my content, applications and settings in place. The experience was totally frictionless. I send my grateful thanks to Cloud Computing and SaaS.

First of all, I am a frequent user of Google Docs. I also have a lot of info there, typically things such as ideas for new blog posts, notes, calculations, and lists (excluding my To-do-lists). Some time ago, I created a list in a Google Docs document listing all the apps I had installed on my laptop. I left out apps that I had installed but never really used. For each app, I added the link to a place from which I could download the latest version of the app.

Nowadays I manage all my files and documents in DropBox. I also use DropBox when collaborating on files with colleagues, and sometimes also with customers and partners. The DropBox desktop app makes file management really easy, but I get comfort in the thought of always being able to access, download and upload files via the DropBox web interface. I also have the DropBox iPhone app, which is very handy when I’m not sitting in front of my laptop and need to access and read/view documents or files.

For my to-do-lists I use Google Tasks, so I didn’t need to care about moving those. I also manage links to frequently used web-based tools and web resources as bookmarks in Google Chrome. The ones most frequently used are available in the toolbar, the rest are hidden in the Bookmarks menu.

All work emails, contacts and calendar events are stored on the Exchange server, so I didn't have to care about those things. I don't even use the Outlook desktop client, only Outlook Web Access (and mail, calendar and contacts on my iPhone), so I didn’t need to set that up on my new laptop.

For password management, I use the SplashID iPhone app. To simplify the task of entering passwords, I also have the desktop version of SplashID. This way, I can just copy-paste a password from iSplash when I need it.

This is what I did after starting my new laptop (with Windows 7) and logging on to the network:
  1. I opened Internet Explorer (for the first and last time), opened the document with my list of apps in Google Docs, downloaded Google Chrome and installed it.

  2. I started Chrome and synchronized my bookmarks. A few seconds later, I had access to all my frequently used web-based tools and resources.

  3. I downloaded and installed DropBox. After logging on, DropBox started to synchronize all files to my computer.
All in all, this took me about 5 minutes. I then spent about 20 minutes on downloading and installing apps in the background while working with other things. By that time, DropBox had already synchronized all my files to my new laptop. The last thing I did was unlinking my old laptop from DropBox.


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