It is common knowledge that laptops are rather short-lived, especially if compared to desktop computers. Even though you can modify them and upgrade some parts of their hardware, a moment comes when it no longer makes sense - either because the laptop is simply outdated itself, or it is too expensive. But how can you conveniently copy all the files you have collected in the meantime?

On average, we decide to change our laptop every three years. These portable devices either die slowly due to being "worn out" in the process of everyday use, or are killed by spilled liquid or other mechanical damages. There is a couple of ways that allows you to move the files you have gathered without using a pendrive (which may be problematic if you have an 8 GB USB stick and 500 GB of data).

If your laptop is still working...

  • Cloud storage is a great choice if your laptop has a stable Internet connection. You can easily share your files between different computers using free services, such as SkyDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or 4Sync. Applications are usually integrated with the context menu, so you can quickly upload the files by choosing such an option by right-clicking on a file and picking your program from the list.
  • External hard drive proves useful if you often use different computers and want to have your important files easily accessible, but without establishing an Internet connection. External hard drives are also great if you carry for example confidential data that you do not want to risk putting onto a third-party server.

  • Sharing files via a wireless home network. You can set up a LAN network to share files between computers. Windows has a simple wizard that allows you to easily create such a network, and if you want to go cross-platform (for example swap files between a Windows PC and a Mac), you can install Nitroshare.
  • Sending files with an Ethernet or USB cable. If you want to have a cable connection instead of a wireless connection, you can buy an Ethernet crossover cable and use it to share data between two machines. There are also EasyTransfer USB cables that work perfectly when paired with Windows' tool, Windows Easy Transfer.

If your laptop has ceased to co-operate...

  • If your system does not boot anymore, but hardware is A-Okay you can try using a Live CD or a Live USB of Ubuntu or any other Linux edition that supports Live booting. If you don't feel that you can handle Linux, you can also create a bootable Windows Live CD or USB stick. Either way you will be able to access all the files on your hard drive without installing anything on it (and thus maybe corrupting data) and you can use one of the earlier mentioned methods to share your files.
  • If there are hardware problems (but your hard drive is safe and sound) you can take the hard drive off the laptop and make an external drive out of it. You will need an IDE or SATA ended USB cable to connect it to your computer, and some kind of a protective case to protect your hard drive from mechanical damages, but it only sounds more difficult than it really is.

Remember that hard drives don't live forever! One day you will have to replace it, so remember to backup your data regularly! Producer's warranty is usually for 1 - 3 years, depending on the model, type and manufacturer, but if it fails and you lose your data then even warranty may not get the lost files back.