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If you're thinking of doing a system upgrade... make sure you know where all your important data is before you switch. In particular, it can be helpful to have all of your software registration keys, web logins, and so forth in one place. That's especially true if you're changing platforms, but even if you're just installing a new hard drive in an old system, you'll soon discover just how many different places you've found to store stuff over the years.
If you're changing platforms, you'll have the added wrinkle that not all of your old programs will have equivalents on the new platform. The more different formats you're using, the more time you'll spend on conversions.
So far, the simplest conversion by far has been SplashID, a password manager. Not only does it have both Windows and Mac versions, but both use the same data format and the same license key.
I thought about doing this the last time I upgraded my computer, but this time it was just too tempting. I've made the Big Switch from Windows to a Mac. The decision was much easier now that Apple is using Intel chips: I can use Parallels Desktop to run software with no Mac equivalent in a Windows virtual machine. Reviews say this approach won't work for programs that use 3-D graphics, but it's fine for everything I've tried. Though I'll want to use Mac applications as much as possible, the virtual machine also saves me from having to invest in a complete Mac software library Right Now.
I'm also discovering that all those Unix-oriented programmers who sing the praises of plain text files for data storage are right. I've been fighting to rescue my data from Proprietary Format Hell. Outlook Notes are the worst so far: they don't even export to other Microsoft programs cleanly.
I'll do one of my periodic productivity tools posts once my Mac environment stabilizes. Right now, I'm running demo versions of three or four different note taking and data management tools and can't yet say which ones are worth keeping.
The next big hurdle is going to be data synchronization. I'm keeping my Windows laptop around for travel -- the MacBook Pros are gorgeous, but won't fit on an economy-class tray table -- and I'm still working out the best way to synchronize critical stuff between the two.
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