Looking to buy a new Vista PC but don't want to leave your carefully honed Windows XP software image behind? A PC migration application such as Laplink's PC Mover 3.0 can - usually - help ease your transition.

Laplink PC Mover 3.0 seeks out and copies common data files, program settings (email accounts, browser favourites, and such), and the files and Registry information that contribute to the look and feel of your PC.

Unlike its rivals, however, version 3.0 of Laplink PC Mover takes the process a step further and copies your applications too. (The Microsoft Windows Easy Transfer Companion that comes with Windows Vista copies only applications - not settings or data files.)

Transfers can be performed via USB, LAN, or CD/DVD. Laplink PC Mover 3.0 includes a USB-to-USB transfer cable.

After installing Laplink PC Mover 3.0 on both your old PC and your new one, you simply attach the cable and then you're all set to move data. Four of our five test migrations worked fine.

However, we had trouble trying to migrate applications from a 750GB system to one with only 250GB of drive space. We instructed the utility to copy all of our applications, but because we had to deselect several drive partitions from the copy list to save space, Laplink PC Mover 3.0 didn't copy the applications on the deselected partitions.

This was a rather unusual scenario, but a more intelligent program would have checked where the apps were located, or - at the very least - alerted us to the problem. We also found that Laplink PC Mover 3.0 didn’t copy our Firefox settings, and the transfer process froze when we merely ejected a CD on the destination PC – forcing us to start again from the beginning.

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Laplink PC Mover 3.0 will migrate your settings and programs nicely under most circumstances. Just bear in mind that, should your image stray from the norm, you might need to reinstall some apps yourself.