PCMover Windows 7 Upgrade for Gamers Review
LapLink is a company that’s been in the data transfer game for a very long time. I still remember using LapLink Pro and one of the proprietary cables to move the contents of my Windows 95 PC to my brand new Windows 98 system back during the stone ages. With the advent of the Windows file transfer utility it seemed like the software was nearing obsolescence except that Windows only transfers the things Windows cares about using its built in utility.
Recently LapLink released its PCMover, software which is aimed at performing an in-place upgrade from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7. PCMover also helps users choose what applications get migrated to the new operating system. The software is in many ways an augmentation to the Windows upgrade process, but is it something gamers can use?
Well, I took the opportunity to find out while upgrading my wife’s Windows Vista laptop to a crisp, clean Windows 7 install. Before beginning the upgrade process it was simple to download PCMover and install it. There is a lot of documentation on the PCMover website aimed at helping users avoid some of the pitfalls surrounding an upgrade and if you follow the directions you’re likely in good shape for the majority of your programs once the upgrade is complete.
What interested me most during my use was the ability to select which applications I was upgrading. Moving from Vista 32 to Windows 7 64 meant that there might be some very clear compatibility problems for some of my older software. PCMover will not fix this, it’s simply the utility that bundles and restores the old settings and files to a fresh OS install.
PCMover does a good job of finding installed applications, especially those registered with the add/remove program control panel. Unfortunately, not every installer works properly and so some programs are a bit more difficult to select. In my case PCMover even managed to find some of the shovelware the laptop manufacturer had included that was not registered under add/remove.
What stood out most to me in the preparation phase of using the program was the sheer volume of data it included in the move. Documents, movies, music, it all got added and it added up very quickly. When I included all the installed programs as well the compressed cabinet was reported to take up to 114GB of space. The hard drive itself was only 200GB and uncompressed had 40GB free when I ran the tool. Luckily PCMover supports external storage drives, and in fact it’s apparently almost a requirement if you have any data.
In the end I chose a custom move of programs and settings, which was nice. Since many of the applications installed under Vista were not going to work under Windows 7 64-bit it made little sense for the program to archive the installs. One missing feature that might have made this a more simple process is some way to indicate to the PCMover program that I was not just upgrading the OS from Vista to Windows 7, but also changing core functionality in moving from 32-bit to 64-bit.
The change of 32-bit to 64-bit has more impact on the upgrade process than a simple archive would make obvious to the average user. Archived drivers and utilities are also likely to be copied when they are not needed or supported under the new OS. Details like this mean that PCMover, in seeking some simplicity of operation, is in fact moving a lot of unnecessary products.
Once I completed the selection and archive of installed applications and data, like my Steam games, the Winodws 7 upgrade was simple. PCMover requires you to reinstall after the upgrade and then restore the settings from your archive and apparently all of these applications functioned properly or as well as they should despite the change in OS.
I question if PCMover really made a bigger impact than using the built-in Windows upgrade tools to migrate between versions. The migration wizard is a part of Windows since XP hit the shelves and in my experience is about the same as PCMover performance-wise. PCMover does support better migration of applications and in future versions of Windows updates it might be more useful as the 32-bit vs. 64-bit transition will be mostly a thing of the past.
PCMover is a nice utility for transferring between old and new computers or performing an in-place Windows upgrade. The license however is fairly restrictive and only covers one PC transition for the price of $30 and really doesn’t justify the expense for the extra features unless you have problems and need to undo a migration.
- Simple to install
- Allows custom migration of data & programs
- Moves Steam and games over intact to new OS
- Not a lot more features than Windows built-in wizard
- Does not account for 32-bit vs 64-bit upgrade paths
- Limited to one PC upgrade or PC-to-PC move