back to article What is this, 1989? Laplink is still a thing and wants to help with Windows 7 migrations

File transfer veteran Laplink has taken advantage of the impending demise of Windows 7 to remind those faced with a migration challenge that it still exists. It is hard to not to feel a twinge of nostalgia at the word "Laplink" as one recalls the serial cables and floppy disks of three decades ago used to migrate data from one …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aaassgh! Laplink!

    I literally chucked my laplink cables away a couple of months ago, and here it is mentioned again.

    And what's with the 'brightly coloured cables?' - Mine were grey. Don't tell me they weren't genuine? Still, they earned their not inconsiderable cost back in time saved

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Aaassgh! Laplink!

      'brightly coloured cables?"

      A rather vivid shade of blue, if memory serves me right

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Aaassgh! Laplink!

        I'm sure mine was bright butter yellow.

        Maybe it was to smooth the data flow?

        1. theblackhand Silver badge

          Re: Aaassgh! Laplink!

          Red was fastest. Naturally...

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Aaassgh! Laplink!

            Were they go-faster red stripes?

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    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Aaassgh! Laplink!

      I have blue, yellow, green and grey Laplink cables.

      The double-headed ones were of course serial, 9-way and 25-way, but I also have parallel to parallel (printer) cross-over Laplink cables. I recall we used MS-DOS Interlink rather than Laplink software for transfer.

      I work with a fair bit of industrial kit which has never had USB-to-serial added, let alone ethernet or anything fancy, so they are still handy at times.

  2. arctic_haze Silver badge
    Holmes

    Cables, CDs?

    Real men migrate their PCs using floppies!

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Cables, CDs?

      Not if real men wanted to preserve their sanity... :)

      Laplink was a lifesaver in it's day. I seem to remember using it with XTree Gold, although that could be a false memory brought on by age.

      1. Andrew Moore

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        Man, I loved XtreeGold

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Cables, CDs?

          Lifesavers! and the third amigo was Spinrite.

      2. Alister Silver badge

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        I seem to remember using it with XTree Gold

        Ha! Fake news! It was XTLink that I used with XTree Gold, obviously, and my recollection is it was easier to use that than Laplink.

      3. Kiwi Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        Laplink was a lifesaver in it's day. I seem to remember using it with XTree Gold, although that could be a false memory brought on by age

        Nope, it was possible to combine both (and I still have both AND a home-made Laplink cable (thanks to the wonderful "CableGUI" program with it's many wiring diagrams!)

        I'm still nostalgic at times for XTG. I'm sure our programs of today don't match it.. Even if we can have multiple windows open across more than one machine..

        Somehow, modern stuff just doesn't have the same feel... Even if I can transfer many times the data over thousands of miles many many times faster.

        [El Reg - still waiting for that misty-eyed nostalgia icon!]

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Cables, CDs?

      Real men migrate their PCs using floppies!

      5 1/4" or 8"?

      Don't believe in these new fangled 3 1/2" ones!

    3. Totally not a Cylon
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Cables, CDs?

      Real women made their own null modem!

      Just remember to cross the streams!

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        I have made my own null modem cables, and ones for customers, a long, long time ago but despite the length of my hair I think I have a few too many testicles to be considered a woman. ;)

        1. AdamK

          Re: Cables, CDs?

          A "few" too many testicles, you say?

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Cables, CDs?

            Ah now you see real men have so much testosterone the standard allocation does not suffice.

            Yeah yeah, I'm going.

        2. WolfFan Silver badge

          Re: Cables, CDs?

          Yes, but can you cross the streams?

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        pins 2,3,7 and 20... cross 2 and 3.

        Yep, it's still in there...

    4. davidp231

      Re: Cables, CDs?

      Laplink didn't even need a floppy.

      Set serial port rate accordingly with mode.com

      ctty com1

      Laplink would happily remote install and launch.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Cables, CDs?

        And prior to Laplink, and PCs with incompatible disk formats running various versions of CP/M, I ended up writing a BASIC program to convert a file to a hex dump and vice versa, then "printed" it out the serial port, using CTTY to receive it. The BASIC program, saved in ASCII text mode could also be copied over that way in preparation for converting the soon to follow hex dump of WordStar :-)

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Cables, CDs?

      And real Geeks migrate their Unix systems using uucp over a null modem cable...

      Those either unable to wield a soldering iron or want something that inspires confidence, the Laplink cable null modem cable was the business...

  3. Dwarf Silver badge

    Nostalga

    I came across a bunch of laplink cables in my roof about 6 months ago and LL3.exe sprung to mind. Fantastic product in its day when doing upgrades and when everything had an ECP parallel port.

    I recall a less common USB 2 to USB 2 transfer cable from a couple of years back (OK, its probably more than that) but that was slow compared to ordinary LAN based copies or better still just stuffing the old disk into the new machine and directly copying.

    I'm fairly sure that everything that people move these days will be via rsync or robocopy to a temporary area then pick through the bones to see what they actually need from the 100's of GB's of crap that build up on machines.

    I did a Win7 to Win10 move for a friend the other day (the twitch will stop soon) and found that things like iTunes and VMWare workstation are the worst offenders, AppData was full of stuff that served no purpose. Copies of old log files and tmp files from years ago along with files that VMWare stores for cut and paste sessions long passed by (this has to be a bug).

  4. GlenP Silver badge

    Just looked...

    The pouch in my laptop bag is an original LapLink one I believe. These days it contains network and phone cables but genuinely LapLink was a life saver "back in the day".

  5. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Apple still does laplink

    Only they call it Migration Assistant and it needs a Thunderbolt 3 cable for maximum ommph. Faster than anything else I every used though - including cloning to a ssd in an enclosure.

  6. scaley

    Colours

    Wasn't the serial cable yellow and the parallel blue ?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Colours

      Mine was grey. But I acquired a length of some relatively thick multi-core that had enough wires to stick parallel and serial down the same cable with a 9 pin hanging off the serial 25 pin at each end to cope with any situation :-)

      (plus gender changers for those "odd" ones and "special" adaptors made up for the really weird ones. ISTR at least one PC used a form of RJ45 for serial, not an actual RJ45 or even standard UK or US phone connectors, but similar.

  7. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    USB "sticks"? More like spinning rust

    I'm migrating desktops soon, using the external USB hard drives I already use for backups. No stick can hold our massive archive of family photo/videos!

    (It took one large stick alone to migrate my iTunes library from the old desktop to the new-at-the-time (old now) laptop. Still using the stick as the data store until I can migrate that to the new desktop too.)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: external USB hard drives

      You do realize that hard drives are not backups ? They are subject to failure, magnets, and various other risks.

      An optical disk is the only proper backup. Keep it in the shade at reasonable temperature and your photos will still be viewed decades from now. I suggest a BluRay writer and buying the 50GB disks. They are a bit more expensive per GB than the 25GB disks, but hey, double the storage is worth it.

      1. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Re: external USB hard drives

        I've had lots and lots of DVD-Rs turn unreadable after a few years. Various brands, if mostly cheap ones. If you really want something kept safely, no media is perfect - you just have to keep two copies of everything.

        1. Robert Sneddon

          Re: external USB hard drives

          no media is perfect

          8-hole paper tape (well, Mylar) isn't a perfect backup media but it's damn close.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: external USB hard drives

            "8-hole paper tape (well, Mylar) isn't a perfect backup media but it's damn close."

            Stone is even better. But over time, you lose the facility and equipment to read it. I mean, WTF were they thinking when they backed up to Stonehenge? Now we can't read the data or use the kit!

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: external USB hard drives

          With any media duplicated, it seems odds-on both will die roughly the same time.

        3. batfink Silver badge

          Re: external USB hard drives

          I discovered one of the advantages of backing up to DVDs a few years ago.

          The day after I'd completed a backup, I had a break-in and my PC was stolen. The pile of DVDs was on the desk beside the PC, as I hadn't got around to putting them away. The villains completely ignored them, as obviously uninteresting. Everything else vaguely electronic went, including the slide scanner (but not the neg holder beside it, so they obviously didn't know what it was). So, an external USB/HDD would have gone as well.

          Of course I would have hidden an external HDD away after the backup - well, within the same timeframes as putting the DVD's away, so would've been a fail that time.

          These days it's multiple (hidden) NAS's.

        4. batfink Silver badge

          Re: external USB hard drives

          Ditto. I test mine every couple of years (yes, yes, I know....) and max lifespan so far seems to be around 5-6 years. Could be crappy media I suppose, but I did try to get the best at the time. And yes, they've been stored in a cupboard so degradation from sunlight isn't a problem.

      2. Juan Inamillion

        Re: external USB hard drives

        "your photos will still be viewed decades from now." You're going to be sorely disappointed in 'decades from now' if you believe that. I researched the ability to used optical media for archiving data a few years ago and found that even the very best genuine (there's a lot of fake stuff out there) 'Archive Quality' media would certainly not be good for 'decades'.

        If it's that vital I'd say you need to store on at least twice on two different types of media. You also need to keep at least two systems capable of reading and outputting the data. It all depends on the importance attached to the data and your intrinsic paranoia.

        1. DWRandolph

          Re: external USB hard drives

          NO media / platform is a permanent backup / archive - everything will fail eventually. You have to keep copying (with checksums) to newer platforms every few years.

          The point about at least two instances of the data set, on different platforms, is also very much a good idea. When Platform-A gets bricked [hack, firmware, license, key server, bad batch of disks across multiple machines (yes, this was a personal nightmare - remember Bigfoot?), ...], you can still copy from Platform-B to a new Platform-C. Not so easy if all your copies are just multiple instances of Platform-A.

          1. Danny 2 Silver badge

            Re: external USB hard drives

            Your voice is made of the six elements, but it is truly lovely.

            Should I try to make it mine? Should I record it?

            But I know that what I can hold on to or record would not be your true voice.

            What I get may only be a picture,

            a magnetic tape,

            a painting,

            or a book.

            Your smile is made of the six elements,

            but it is truly wonderful.

            Should I try to make it mine?

            Should I try to make it last for a long time?

            Should I try to own or record it?

            But I know that what I can own or record could not be your true smile.

            It would only be some of the elements.

            Your eyes are impermanent.

            Your eyes are not you.

            Yes, I have been told, and I have seen it,

            yet they are still beautiful.

            Just because they are impermanent,

            they are all the more beautiful.

            The things that do not last long

            are the most beautiful things -

            a shooting star, a firework.

          2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: external USB hard drives

            Simply hew the binary of each image into a lump of granite. Chiselled out hollow for a 1, untouched space for a zero. Should last a good millenia or two.

            Granted the write time isn't great yet, and storage requirements are a tad... weighty... but those are just implementation details. With a few hundred million of VC investment I reckon it's a goer.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: Simply hew the binary of each image into a lump of granite.

              I wouldn't recommend that for confidential documents though. The British Museum will likely mount it on a plinth and everyone will see it.

            2. batfink Silver badge

              Re: external USB hard drives

              Hmmm. ASCII or ECBDIC though?

        2. nportalski

          Re: external USB hard drives

          Keeping the system available is the biggest challenge:

          https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/mar/03/research.elearning

          The original Domesday book is still available after nearly 1,000 years. The 1986 one could have been unreadable after 15..... (well, yes, I realise that throwing enough money at would always have rendered it readable again, but the point stands)

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: external USB hard drives

        "You do realize that hard drives are not backups ? They are subject to failure, magnets, and various other risks."

        Being subject to failure doesn't stop something being a backup. The likelihood of failure over a given length of time might make it more risky, but it's still a backup. It may not be a long term archive though, which could be a very different beast depending on the circumstances.

        I agree that optical disk are likely the best for longer term storage, properly stored. I'd also suggest shopping around for "archival grade" disks to. Just make sure they really are, and not some ebay tat pretending to be archival grade.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It works

    Yeah, I used Laplink to migrate a friend's antique Win XP computer to Win10. Worked through ethernet, and it worked great. Kept the two user structures intact, I couldn't believe the obsolete Eudora config still worked on Win10!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC - Re: It works

      You did what ?! Migrated his computer to Windows 10 ? I don't think I'd want to be your friend.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: @AC - It works

        Friends don't let friends install W10.

  9. Alumoi
    Trollface

    Forget for a moment about LapLink

    How about this gem: from old and busted Windows 7 to new and shiny Windows 10?

    Shirley you mean from old and trusty Windows 7 to new and busted Windows 10.

  10. batfink Silver badge

    Laplink? I no longer have the gear

    I threw away my chisel and piece of flat rock ages ago...

  11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Yep

    "You do realize that hard drives are not backups ? They are subject to failure, magnets, and various other risks."

    Sure it is. Burning stuff to an optical disk might be better, but you still have two independent copies of your data instead of one, pushing the stats that far in your favor in terms of likelihood of losing data.

    I never used laplink, but did get a null modem adapter or two that were sold as laplink adapters. I never used the parallel port one but you could rock a whole 11KB/sec over that serial laplink, woohoo!

  12. JulieM Silver badge

    LapLink Cables

    I could probably still remember how to solder one up, if I had the required 25-pin DIN sockets .....

    The last mobo I installed still had a pin header for a Centronics port.

  13. katrinab Silver badge
    Facepalm

    What do you need Laplink for?

    On your new computer, browse to //oldcomputer/c$/

    Enter the administrator password of the old computer

    Copy the contents to c:\users\katrina\Old Computer\

    Move stuff from there as necessary

    Delete c:\users\katrina\Old Computer\users\katrina\Old Computer\ as you don't need that one any more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Only works if the user hasn't spaffed all over the local drive outside the user directory structure.

      Used to use Laplink transfer years ago, mostly use Dell Data Transfer Tool today. Current project we're doing everything manually, so I have to search C: to check for extra cruft before re-imaging the machine. (Yeah, it's one of those projects. Swap the HD and keep the old one as a backup? Nah! Just reformat it and cross your fingers you've got everything off it.)

      Crap, now I've got to post anononymousely.

    2. Dvon of Edzore

      Find out you skipped an important item and the old machine and all the backup tapes are at the e-waste recyclers. Hope they're hiring.

      My preference is to keep old copies until the end-of-year paperwork is final -- around next Halloween. If it hasn't been missed by then, it will likely never be wanted.

    3. Alister Silver badge

      @katrinab

      Laplink is from the days when people had no network connectivity.

      Oh, and btw, Windows 7 and above disables the admin shares by default, so C$ won't work unless you first enable them.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      rsync

      I prefer:

      1. rsync -lrtv oldcomputer:/home/username/ /home/username/

      2. Enter password for regular user on old computer.

      3. Grab a beer/coffee/beverage of choice.

      Much easier :)

  14. Dvon of Edzore
    Happy

    Still around, actually works, mostly.

    Yes I used it in the days of the blue and yellow cables. Recently had to move a small office (5 workstations) to new Win10 boxen and took Microsoft's "recommendation" to use the new LL instead of the suddenly-missing Migration Assistant. Handled the transport of licensed applications, HP printer drivers, and change from local to domain account quite nicely. Balked at one single-machine license for an old Office, but client had the cash for a fresh copy so no huhu.

    'Tis a tad pricey in singles, but multi-set licenses from the big river are tolerable. Enterprises can get the red shirt discounts.

    Consider the icon as meaning: "I am moderately happy and wish to express my amazement."

    1. Jason 24

      Re: Still around, actually works, mostly.

      Are you referring to the easy transfer wizard from Windows 7? If so you can copy the files off the Windows 7 machines onto Windows 10 and run it, it all works perfectly.

  15. Nunyabiznes Silver badge

    Roaming profiles?!?

    "We wondered what use a well-run enterprise IT department would have for this tool. After all, surely a standardised Windows 10 image, roaming profiles and data resolutely stored on a server would make Laplink's PCmover redundant?"

    My sarcasm meter pegged there. Perhaps it needs calibration? We run roaming profiles here (can't run a complete standard image of course due to our many, many different vertical market software packages) and I swear they are much more trouble than they are worth. It is amazing how many tweaks we have to employ to get even network stored profiles to work with many of our software packages, not to mention roaming profiles.

    1. Dvon of Edzore

      Re: Roaming profiles?!?

      Line of business software for my biggest client specifically prohibits roaming profiles or Terminal Server. As the vendor also sells support, giving up a revenue stream like that corroborates your story.

    2. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Re: Roaming profiles?!?

      Ha! Stuff 'roaming profiles'. After over 25 yrs in one post my email archive was....huge. Unfortunately our IT decided that your email would be synced to your local machine. Even worse, I could work at any of 12 PCs over 14 floors. Logging in with your username took nearly 15mins as sync er...progressed

      Cue next issue, corrupted roaming profile. "We'll delete your profile and migrate everything over. Which machines have you used as we need to clear them and the corrupted version?"

      IT couldn't believe I used so many PCs as the whole system was geared to people who only worked one floor and 8 to 12 PCs

      HATE MS roaming profiles with a vengance.

      OTOH have to move my uncle's Win7 profile to new machine on Win10. Just the data and .pst files mind

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Roaming profiles?!?

        As an IT Tech (Windows 2000/XP era) I loved roaming profiles (I thought mail files these days were in local app data not the roaming app data folder), it meant I could just give someone a machine and only have to setup Lotus Notes (I think it could be setup to use the application settings folder, but very few people including myself knew how to set it up in a way that wasn't annoying to the end user). I hated people who kept Gigabyte files on their desktop however.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Roaming profiles?!?

        I had a ticket once that it took hours for a user to log in. Looked into it and found that the entire Adobe Creative Suite was being being sucked down with their profile. Also said user had been approved for 16GB of RAM on a Windows 7 32bit OS.

      3. Kiwi Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Roaming profiles?!?

        OTOH have to move my uncle's Win7 profile to new machine on Win10. Just the data and .pst files mind

        Give him Zorin and Evolution. No need for a new machine (unless the old has failing hardware).

        He'll love you so much more for the improvement and the familiarity.

        (Unless you hate him with a passion, in which case W10 is the way to go!)

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    Old and busted to new and shiny?

    So you want me to trade in my trusty old Subaru for a brand new Dodge Dart (aka Fiat Viaggio)?

    Seriously, Windows 7 has proven to be a relatively reliable if boring desktop OS. Windows 10 has been somewhat of a more exciting ride -- sure, it comes up with a selection of pretty pictures for the login screen and probably has dozens of new features that I obviously don't need (because I haven't noticed them) but its always been a bit of a crapshoot when it updates, you never know what's going to stop working and what might start working that was broken.

    I'm writing this as a software developer professional, someone who doesn't develop using and for the Windows software ecosystem. In this world consistency is more important than whatever the latest and greatest has to offer. Fortunately most of the tools that I use are really Linux based, they're hosted under Cygwin on a Windows platform (you get forced to use Windows because its a 'business decision') and if things really get too much hassle then the job's just not that important.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

      I feel your pain. Nope Security team says Windows only. But VirtualBox is apparently OK.

      Most of my day is now spent in a Devuan VM on my laptop :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

      Linux is worse for updates, it seems like every single day I get notifications about package updates.

      1. Maventi

        Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

        On the plus side they are fast to install and very rarely break things.

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

          And almost never need a restart - and when they do, they do the installation first, while the PC is usable, instead of putting you into a restart loop that locks you out of your PC for who knows how long.

      2. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

        Depends what *nix you're running. If you're running one of the distributions that prioritise stability, then you'll only get the LTS updates and any urgent security patches.

        If you're running a bleeding edge distribution, then yes, you'll get the latest updates from each of the separate projects producing the software you have installed.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Old and busted to new and shiny?

        "it seems like every single day I get notifications about package updates."

        Have you looked at the settings for your package updater? Most can have the update check interval changed. Just set it for weekly or monthly or whatever is convenient for you.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used a paid version of PC-mover a few years ago and it tried to load unwanted bundled crapware through the use of dark patterns.

    Avoid!

    1. quxinot Silver badge

      When I migrate to a new computer, honestly I don't want to bring along the old stuff exactly how it was. Part of the joy of a new machine is getting some of the cruft cleaned out, and tweaking things to work differently (which, in fairness, is not always the 'better' at which I was aiming!).

      I've had to rely on a NAS for so very long that there's not much on my computers though. With Win9x's legendary stability and a penchant for slightly sketchy overclocking, I learned early on to store everything remotely if possible. It means that swapping machines or OS installs is significantly easier, though.

      1. Mike_G

        I agree, its a perfect time to start afresh and try and keep it clutter free.

        I backup the important documents/family photos etc to several places. Encrypted archives on GDrive and iCloud, locally encrypted on a RAID1 NAS array thats unmounted when not backing up, and then on a RAID1 array in the PC.

        I havnt lost a file since doing this, I know its not perfect but I leaned the hardware that copying to just another HDD isnt a backup, and even truer when its mounted.

  18. Blackjack

    I just use external backups.

    At first it was floppies, then CDs, then DVDs, then USB flash drives and nowadays I use external hard disks.

    I do not trust the Cloud, at least not for my personal data. Not to mention I do remember Google wiping out data in Google Drive and just saying "Oops, sorry all your data ia gone even if you broke no rules whatsoever.". And yes they did do that more than one time.

  19. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Boundary Event

    I need to preface this by saying I don't know if it is true, or if I'm recalling it correctly, but I this heard once from a reliable source, like a TV or radio, and I like the idea.

    Apparently every time you walk through a door way your short term memory is downloaded into your medium term memory and your short term memory is erased. That's why we keep walking into rooms and forgetting why we were going in there. The theory was it's an evolutionary throwback to when we were hairier and we left tall grass or a forest and had to have our wits around us to be alert for predators.

    Even if it isn't true, it's a great excuse for being absent minded at work.

    1. Blackjack

      Re: Boundary Event

      Is actually automatisation.

      If you do the same thing enough times it becomes a habit.

      The human brain has the bad habit of using those habits if you are not paying enough attention. And because you were relying on those habits, your highter brain functions forget what you were going to do.

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: it's a great excuse for being absent minded at work.

      Not if you work in an open-plan office.

  20. BGatez Bronze badge

    the cloud???

    Trusting data to the cloud = "gosh it got poached", "sorry it got lost", "sorry we gave it to the NSA"

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