"Correct" / best practices way to transfer files from one computer to another, via an external hard drive


classic35mm

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OS
Windows 11 23H2 22631.3527
  • I have an old computer, running Windows 7 Pro.
  • I have a new computer, running Windows 11 Enterprise.
  • I have a USB-A external hard drive by Seagate.
I wish to transfer my documents and other files (but not operating system files), totaling around 1.5 TB, from the old computer to the external hard drive, and then from the external hard drive to the new computer.

Note that I will be doing this using "Sneakernet":
  • I will plug in the external hard drive to the old computer, then transfer the files from the old computer to the external hard drive.
  • When that's done, I'll unplug the external hard drive from the old computer and plug it in to the new computer.
  • Finally, I'll transfer the files from the external hard drive to the new computer.
What is the "correct" / best practices way to do the file transfers? It's not clear to me that simply copying and pasting in File Explorer is the best way.
  • In particular, I'm wondering about the "File Created" metadata. I'd like to retain the metadata from the original source (old computer), because the documents were not actually created on the date I actually copied them. In Linux, I think one can do this using cp -a, with -a standing for "archive." Is there an analogous way to do this in Windows 7 and 11 (both using NTFS, I believe), either using File Explorer or Command Prompt?
 
Windows Build/Version
23H2 22631.3447

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 23H2 22631.3527
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo ThinkStation P3
When in Windows files are copied from one drive to another (maybe external) drive, the file creation date will always be changed to the moment that the copy took place.

But normally spoken that should not be a problem, because there is an attribute called modified date/time as well. And that attribute will stay the same when the file is transfered from one computer to another and will be used by software that needs to see which files are newer than others.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 Pro 23H2 22631.3593
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    Manufacturer/Model
    Build by vendor to my specs
    CPU
    AMD Ryzen 7 5700G
    Motherboard
    MSI PRO B550M-P Gen3
    Memory
    Kingston FURY Beast 2x16GB DIMM DDR4 2666 CL16
    Graphics Card(s)
    MSI GeForce GT 730 2GB LP V1
    Sound Card
    Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX
    Monitor(s) Displays
    Samsung S24E450F 24"
    Screen Resolution
    1920 x 1080
    Hard Drives
    1. SSD Kingston NV2 - 500 GB
    2. SSD-SATA Crucial MX500-2TB
    PSU
    Corsair CV650W
    Case
    Cooler Master Silencio S400
    Cooling
    Cooler Master Hyper H412R
    Keyboard
    Cherry Stream (wired, scissor keys)
    Mouse
    Asus WT465 (wireless)
    Internet Speed
    70 Mbps down / 80 Mbps up
    Browser
    Firefox 115.7.0 ESR
    Antivirus
    F-secure via Internet provider
    Other Info
    Oracle VirtualBox 7 for testing software on Win 10 or 11
With utilities like Teracopy TeraCopy for Windows - Code Sector or FastCopy FastCopy you can copy or move with files also acl or metadata, choosing which specified metadata (date, hour, attributes etc.) you want to preserve. You can also automatically verify at the end the accuracy of the process.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 11 22H2 22621.2215
    Computer type
    Laptop
    Manufacturer/Model
    HP OMEN 17''
    CPU
    Intel Core i7-11800H
    Motherboard
    HP 88F7 - Intel HM570 (Tiger Lake PCH-H) chipset
    Memory
    64 GB
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Tiger Lake-H - GT1 Integrated Graphics [Hewlett-Packard] + NVIDIA 3070
    Screen Resolution
    2560x1440
    Hard Drives
    Crucial nvme
I use the following and it is cheap.

Fab's AutoBackup Home & Office

Fabs AutoBackup 7 Home & Office is a very handy tool allowing to backup and restore various files and settings (documents, music, videos, e-mails, web browsers settings) from any Microsoft Windows computer.
store.fpnet.fr
store.fpnet.fr


1713898227207.png

1713739726550.png


1713739776036.png


On the last step, there is a choice to keep folder dates.​

1713898115231.png
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10
robocopy

Robocopy "C:\somefolder" "E:\somefolder" /DCOPY:T /COPYALL /S /R:0

/DCOPY:DCflag[s] : What to COPY for Directories
(DCflags : D=Data, A=Attributes, T=Timestamps,
E=EAs, X=Skip alt data streams).

/COPYALL : Copy ALL file info

/S : Copy Subfolders

/R:n : Number of Retries on failed copies
 
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My Computers

System One System Two

  • OS
    Win7
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    i5-8400
    Motherboard
    gigabyte b365m ds3h
    Memory
    2x8gb 3200mhz
    Monitor(s) Displays
    benq gw2480
    PSU
    bequiet pure power 11 400CM
    Cooling
    cryorig m9i
  • Operating System
    win7
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    CPU
    pentium g5400
    Motherboard
    gigabyte b365m ds3h
    Memory
    1x8gb 2400
    PSU
    xfx pro 450

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