Laplink PCmover Professional review
An effective tool for migrating between systems, but the price is a real turn off
PCmover Professional is a migration tool with an unusual ability: it can transfer not only documents and settings but entire working applications from an older PC onto a new system. It works with almost all versions of Windows (though downgrading isn’t officially supported), and can even perform “in-place” migrations – handy for moving a single computer between OS editions that can’t be directly upgraded.
The boxed edition comes with a special double-ended USB cable for connecting your old and new PCs directly together, but if you’ve opted for the cheaper download edition you can simply use an external hard disk to ferry your files across. Alternatively, if both PCs are attached to a network the software can transfer your data that way.
Before copying, PCmover briefly scans both source and destination PCs, identifying which files don’t need to be moved – a sensible time-saving measure. It also allows the software to warn you of potential application clashes or incompatibilities.
The actual copying remains a slow process, though, and it’s slowed down further by PCmover’s insistence on compressing everything. With a USB2 external hard disk, we found it took around four hours to move 30GB of data, and over 100Mbits/sec Ethernet the same load took more than a day of solid copying. Your best bet is either a Gigabit LAN (if you have one) or the Laplink USB cable, either of which should in theory work out around twice as fast as an external drive.
Still, all of our files and programs ended up in their proper places, and we were impressed to see that even bespoke Visual Studio applications worked perfectly on the new PC. If for any reason your transfer doesn’t go the way you want, you can roll your new PC back to its original state.
In all, PCmover works just as it should, and certainly shows up the limitations of the free Windows Easy Transfer tool. The catch is that the price isn’t exactly pocket money, and amazingly it only covers one migration; if you ever want to perform a second upgrade you’ll have to shell out for another licence. You could save a little by opting for PCmover Home, which is less customisable and supports fewer editions of Windows, but that’s still £24 exc VAT.
It’s a shame, because a cheap, unrestricted version of PCmover would be a great addition to any tinkerer’s toolbox. But at this price it has to be considered a luxury unless you have an unusual number of applications to reinstall – or, perhaps, have lost your old installation discs.