What's the best external hard drive I can use for moving data from one PC to another?

I was thinking of buying a new PC to replace my old 2012 computer with a slightly more modern one. I want to transfer my data to said new one, but I don't plan on spending money for some online application to do it for me. About 800GB is used on my C: drive, and it's running on Windows 10. 

What's the best brand and size of External Hard Drive for this process?

7 Answers

  • 1 month ago
    Favorite Answer

    Why do you care about having the "best"?  When you are only going to be using it a few hours....

    -- both computers will be "live" so if the external hard drive breaks you haven't lost anything.Why do you care about the size?  Whether you transfer the data in one lump or several smaller lumps, it's not going to take much extra time.Determine the price you want to pay for this and then chose an option based on that price...- In fact, don't you already have a decent size USB drive so you can do the transfer for no additional cost?  If not, I'd surmise that a friend does.  If not, buy a 256G USB drive for $30. 

    • A Hunch
      Lv 7
      1 month agoReport

      Ioerr also has a good option - there are little contraptions that you can hook up the existing hard drive to and use it directly.  I purchased one at Fry's at the beginning of 2019 for about $15. 

  • 1 month ago

    Why do (all of you) you insist on doing it the complicated way? Connect both machines to the same network, make the (old) source drive visible on the network, copy the files on the (new) target drive, done.

    If you want to do it fast, use a wired ethernet connection to the same router.

    If you don't have a router with two ethernet connections, you can also connect both machines directly through an ethernet able, but that might require a bit of fiddling with the internet settings on one of the PCs.

  • 1 month ago

       Hi. The 2 aqnswers about using the old harddrive as an add-on for the newer system are the best, cheapest  & fastest transfer method.

       You do mention it's a PC but not the term laptop, so I'll assume it's a desktop system, which means that opening the cases are a little difficult sometimes, although most systems from 2012 are big enough to be easy.

       However the new system might be a little smaller - thus more difficult to reach the necessary wiring for power & data without pulling drive cages & moving system cards.

       You may want to pull the drive from the larger older system then get one of these - they are hugely valuable for people who do this kind of thing often.


       I also suggest doing some simple maintenance of files before You remove the drive from the older system, it should make the copying go smoother.

       Make a folder for all music, video, pictures, game & software installers, & hardware installers (printers, webcams, etc) so that they'll be easier to find on the new system when You need them.

       After that make a folder for ALL items You've personally crrated on Your computer that You use on a regular basis, or need to access in the future ... Word files for school or work, Homemade vids for social media sites or Youtube, everything that You can't find a copy of somewhere.

       Then just choose a method & go !!!.


  • Lv 7
    1 month ago

    brand doesn't really matter. just be sure it uses USB 3.0 for speedier transfers.

    and get a LARGER one than you need, so you can always use it later in the future, when you will have even MORE files to move...

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  • 1 month ago

    Why not just unplug the old PC and take the side off of your new pc and temporarily plug the hard drive from the old PC into one of the spare SATA slots? Copy the data you need straight to the hard drive of your new computer straight from your old hard drive then shut the new computer down put the hard drive back in the old computer and you will have saved yourself $100. it's a five-minute very simple operation to pull out a hard drive and just stick it in the spare slot long enough to copy the information. Almost all new computers come with spare SATA cables.

    So that you can plug in another SATA device

  • Bill-M
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    I just got an external SSD 500GB from Samsung.

    very impressed with it.

  • ioerr
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    i'd just pull the drive out the old computer, stick it in the new one, and do a straight copy of whatever's required, if i actually wanted the data on a different drive or whatever

    there's also cheap enclosures or adapters you can get, that let you convert your old drive itself to an external drive, with the data already on it

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