Friday, May 18, 2007

Packing Your Bags

Sometimes you want to move a program from one hard drive to another, like from your C: drive to your D: drive. Why? I dunno, could be a lot of reasons.

Maybe your C: drive was getting full, so you added a new drive to your computer. Maybe your old drive is showing signs of age and you want to get the important stuff off it before something bad happens (kind of like moving to that new Earth-like planet before this one's totally used up).

Whatever. The point is that sometimes people want to move a program and they find out it isn't as easy as it might seem.

When you install software (assuming you've done it since DOS) you're not just copying a bunch of files from a CD to your computer; you're integrating the new program with Windows and all of the other programs on your computer. It's actually a pretty complicated process that involves a lot of different connections between the new software and your system.

If you decide to move the program, you've got to change all of those connections too. You have to, so to speak, pack your bags. (Sorry, just making sure the title of the post makes sense).

(Oh, this is important. I said move a program from "one hard drive to another." I mean "one hard drive to another on the same computer." If you want to move software from one computer to another, you pretty much need the original installation files. And, legally speaking, you should probably be moving the software, not copying it. Unless your license covers more than one installation. In any case, the process I'm talking about here won't move anything to a different computer, just a new location on the same computer.)

So what's the process? It starts with good news: it's easy, it's relatively safe and, thanks to the fine folks at PC Magazine, it's free.

Step one: get the program. It's called COA2, for Change of Address 2. Yes, it's the second version -- it works with Windows XP. The full writeup and download link at PC Magazine is here.

The actual download is on this page. If you're just looking for the download, it's in tiny print just under the headline. It looks like this: Download Now:

The How To part starts here. It's well worth reading. At least the first two pages. They explain how to use the program without hurting your computer. After that it goes into tips for customizing COA2 and, eventually, a detailed explanation of how the software works.

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