I'm getting a new laptop and will need to transfer quite a lot of data from the old one. In the past I've tried moving files over WiFi through a home network but it's painfully slow for some reason? Would it be quicker if I made an ad-hoc network between the two laptops?

What about a cable connection? I have a couple ethernet cables, one was sed to connect a PC to a physical network at work, the other came with the wifi router. Could either of these be faster?


A wired connection is certainly faster than WLAN but unless both have gigabit adapters, an external USB hard drive is still faster even if you have to copy everything twice.


What I don't understand about the wifi speed is the WLAN card "Offers maximum data transfer rates of up to 54 Mbps" yet the files copy over sometimes slower than a download from the internet! Surely two laptops placed next to each other should be able to reach considerably nearer to 54 Mbps rate?

yomamasflavour Registered User

54Mbit per second is only a theoretical speed you'll rarely get anything close to that.
Even if you did get the full speed it's less that 7MBytes per second. So to transfer large amounts of data like video files it could easily take hours.

Best bet is a gigabit ethernet cable (assuming both laptops have gigabit ethernet ports).
However if one of your laptops only has a 100Mbit port then you'll only be transferring at ~ 10MBytes per second - not a lot better than wifi.

In this case transferring to a usb hard drive and then to the new laptop would be the best idea.
Over Usb you can usually get 25-40MBytes per second so would take considerably less time.


Isn't there two types of Ethernet cable, crossover and parallel or something? Not sure which type mine are or if they'd work. Assuming they're the right ones, how would I set it up?

T-K-O Registered User

A cross over will directly connect two pcs..

google the wiring and you can tell be looking at the cable

Davy Category Moderator

There is a usb transfer cable but they aren't that cheap. Transfer to a hard drive isn't that bad. The new computer will probably be faster than the old anyway. I have done 1.5Tb this way. You have better control on what you transfer rather than using the file transfer tool


T-K-O said:
A cross over will directly connect two pcs.

Don't need a cross-over cable, modern NICs can connect directly with a normal network cable.

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wandererz Registered User

Assuming both devices have a newer ethernet interface you can simply connect any ethernet cable directly between the devices and the NIC should take care of the crossover for you.

Set the two IP addresses on the same range.

for example:
Laptop 1
IP Address:
Subnet Mask:

Laptop 2
IP Address:
Subnet Address:

Asuming firewalls are switched off on the laptops, then from Laptop 1 you should be able to ping Laptop B at and vice versa.

If successful then open up a connection to Laptop B via: \\ in windows explorer.

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coylemj Registered User

OP, don't get bogged down in network issues. Windows will do the data transfer for you, I discovered this when installing a new PC for my sister a couple of years ago. You'll need two network (Ethernet) cables and a memory stick.

Disable Wi-Fi on the old and new laptops and connect them via Ethernet cables to your router (almost all home routers have four ports). Boot up the old laptop and leave it connected to the network. Startup the new laptop, you'll get asked the usual installation questions like country/time zone etc.

At some stage during the installation, Windows on the new laptop will spot the old laptop on the network and will ask you if you'd like to migrate data from the old laptop. When you reply 'yes', it will ask you to install a memory stick, it will then put a piece of s/w on the stick and instruct you to install that s/w on the old laptop. When you install & run the s/w on the old laptop, it will show you a PIN number which you enter in the new laptop after which the data will be migrated from the old laptop to the new laptop. This will include user libraries, desktop layouts, Internet Explorer favourites and lots more than I can't remember.

When I was finished the process, my sister's new PC had more or less the same appearance as her old machine, same desktop wallpaper and so on, it was the easiest migration I ever did. I never at any stage used the 1TB drive I had brought along for the data migration!

The process is called 'Easy Transfer'. If you've already done setup on the new laptop, go into Accessories/System Tools and you should see Windows Easy Transfer, this will allow you to kickoff the data migration manually.

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Thanks for the above replies. The Easy Transfer thing sounds good but it's files I want to migrate not programs etc, want a bit of a fresh start if you will as this machine has tons of programs I installed to use once (converters etc). I'll have a go at that network thing now with another laptop I have. Cheers.

coylemj Registered User

You can transfer files - who said you couldn't?

Read about it here...



coylemj said:
You can transfer files - who said you couldn't?

Read about it here...


Yes I gathered that, what I meant is that's all I wanted to do, so there's no point setting it all up (USB installation blah blah) when I can just connect the laptops via ethernet and drag & drop.

Anyway it turns out my old laptop doesn't have a gigabit ethernet port so I was only able to get around 11Mb/sec I don't really want to have to buy USB storage either, so I might just try and find my old iPod mini and make use of the 8gb on that or whatever - although I'm wondering if it would even save time since I'd have to perform 2 data transfers (Laptop A -> iPod -> Laptop B) and also be limited to however much free storage is available on it. May just hook them up via ethernet after all!

spongerobinson Registered User

you could buy an external case for the harddrive from your old laptop and transfer it by USB this way. They are not that expensive.

Then after that you can either keep the old hard drive as an external drive, or just pop it back into the old laptop to carry on using it as before.


Probably should be mentioned that I don't really want to have to buy anything. Even if it's cheap I cba going out and buying it, or waiting around for it to be delivered

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