The idea of losing data has probably kept some people from contemplating a new computer. Fear not; it isn't that difficult to transfer files.

With a server: Put data you want to transfer into folders so you don't have hundreds of files. Name them something logical so you'll know they're to be moved, such as 2004 Vendor InvoicesXFR.

If you're using Outlook or some other program holding data, archive the folders to your hard drive. (In Outlook, hit “File,” then “Archive.”)

Now you'll be able to transfer through Windows Explorer or some other digital transfer system and take data from your single computer to the server.

Because you're on a server, you won't have to back up or transfer all your programs and operating system files; an IT person will set that up.

No server: You'll still need to archive e-mails and folders from Outlook or capture data from different segments of your hard drive and get it to one location.

Now you can move everything to a new machine. The easiest way is through an external hard drive as opposed to off-site cyber storage, says Erik Cofield, co-owner of Power Consulting, a business consultant to the housing industry. These USB devices cost around $150. Portable and the size of a small desktop calculator, the device plugs into the back of your computer and has many uses, such as storing data for backup. It's fast and simple to use; all you do is drag files. Remember, you'll still have to reinstall program files.