Mini-article – Getting information from one PC to another

By | August 1, 2006
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August 2006 Newsletter

Phew – well, we’re into our new premises and everything is just about up and running, we’ve got all the essentials – kettle, toaster, coffee mugs… oh, and a PC or two as well. If you’re interested, you can see some pictures of us moving in here.

Mini-article – Getting information from one PC to another
Well, I’ve been setting up PCs at our new office this month and one of the things I’ve been doing a lot of is copying files from one PC to another. There are oodles of ways of doing this – all with their own pros and cons so I thought I’d give you a quick run-down on all the different approaches.

1 – A Network
A network is two or more PCs connected directly together.
This is the easiest method to use, once it’s set up. And as well as using it to move files about, you can share a single printer, Internet Connection and other bits and pieces. Setting up a big network across several rooms with lots of PCs is tricky. Setting up a wireless one is not too hard. But linking two PCs with a cable is pretty simple – as long as at least one of them is running Windows XP. You need a “crossover” CAT 5 cable… if you want to find out more, have a look here. and click on “Articles” (This website has a few useful articles on it – generally on slightly more advanced things than I cover, but not too hard).
I use a simple network like this at home, to connect my work laptop to our home PC.

2 – Floppy disks
Floppy disks are the ones in hard plastic cases. It’s not as daft as it sounds. The disk itself, inside the case is floppy, and they used to come in soft cases – but then they’d get folded and damaged so they re-designed them in hard cases. By then, the name had stuck.
They’re handy for moving files from one PC to another and you don’t need a fancy PC to use them. And you an re-use them as many times as you like. The downside is they don’t store very much and some modern PCs don’t have a floppy disk drive.

You can use a writable CD (or even DVD) to move files about. I’d suggest a re-writable so you can re-use the disk afterwards. The disadvantage is it’s quite a fiddle to re-use a CD as you have to clear the data off it first. But the advantage is you can send it to anyone with a PC, knowing they’ll be able to use it. And they’re cheap and you can store a lot on one. All in all, that makes them perfect for sending digital photos to your friends.

4 – Email
You can send files from one PC to another as email attachments. It’s not so good for big files as they tend to go slowly. The other disadvantage is it only works if the PC is on the Internet – not much use for us in setting up the office as we only have the one Internet PC so we could only send to itself…

5 – USB flash drive
This is a new gadget that plugs into a USB port and you can use to store files a bit like a floppy disk – but it can store up to about 1000 times as much (depending on which model you buy. The one I have can store about 500 times as much as a floppy disk and cost less than £20).
Since it plugs into a USB port, it’ll work with almost any PC around. You can re-use it and it copies files fairly quickly. Oh, and it’s small, about the size of one of those blue and white pencil and ink rubbers. I suppose the only disadvantage is it’s small (so easy to lose!) and it’s not good for sending files through the post – you’d have to send the actual gadget, unlike with a CD where you keep the (expensive) CD drive and send the (cheap) CD.
But very handy in some circumstances.

Download of the month 
Microsoft have updated their anti-spyware program. You can get the new version, called Windows Defender, here:

Reader’s Question
How can I change something every time it occurs in a Word document. I want to change the name of a character in a play script – can I do it without having to go through and doing it by hand?
You can – and this is useful in lots of other circumstances, too. Here’s how if you’re using Microsoft Word, though it’s much the same in any other word processor:

  1. Click on the Edit menu
  2. Then Click on “Replace”
  3. In the next window, type in what you want it to find and what you want it to replace it with.
  4. If you click on “More” you can select some other options. For example whether it has to be the same capitalisation and whether to find whole words only (so changing Tom to Jim doesn’t change tomato to jimato…)
  5. You can check each one as it goes by clicking on replace or change all at once by clicking on replace all… best save it first!

By the way, if any local drama groups are looking for a pantomime script, let me know. There’s a lady in our village who’s written several cracking pantos that have been put on locally and I’d be happy to pass on her details

Word to the wise
“OS” or “Operating System”
The Operating System is a program that makes your PC work. It uses the physical gubbins to run all the programs you use and it keeps track of all your files. Windows is the most common example but you might have heard of Linux – and if you have an Apple Mac, you’ll have an Apple OS. Generally, whenever you hear someone talk about the “OS” just replace it with “Windows” and it should make sense!

Right, that’s it for this month. More to come in September…

Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2006

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