My HP Pavilion tablet PC is slowly dying. Sent to and returned from the shop twice already since I bought it 14 months ago, both times for a motherboard replacement, its hard drive started flaking on me last month. I was able to repair the hard drive with a disk utility and it’s been working fine since then, but yesterday the USB ports and Bluetooth adapter quit working.
As I spent today moving data to and installing software on a new Toshiba Satellite, I was faced with a couple of challenges. First, how could I easily transfer my seven Mozilla Thunderbird email accounts from my old notebook to my new. Second, how could I easily and quickly get a printout of all the software I had installed on my old machine so I could be sure I installed all of my programs on my new one so as to not be left without needed, though infrequently used, software when I needed it. I found two free and painless utilities that met my needs perfectly.
The first problem was solved quickly and easily with MozBackup. Here’s the description from the MozBackup website.
MozBackup is a simple utility for creating backups of Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Mozilla Sunbird, Flock, SeaMonkey, Mozilla Suite, Spicebird and Netscape profiles.
It allows you to backup and restore bookmarks, mail, contacts, history, extensions, cache etc.
Its use couldn’t have been simpler. After a quick download and install on my HP, I selected the product and profile I wanted to backup, in this case Thunderbird and default, select a backup destination, and 20 seconds later, I had a single file in my temp directory with all of the IMAP email settings from Thunderbird. I copied the file, which was about 600k, to my Satellite, installed the program on it, and reversed the process. I opened Thunderbird and found all my email accounts looking back at me. It took me probably 3 minutes all told and saved me 20 minutes of adding all the accounts and remembering all the server and port settings for my Lunarpages, AppRiver and Gmail accounts.
It’s important to note a couple of points. First, all my accounts were IMAP accounts, which means that the mail is stored on the server and not on my computer. That’s the reason why the backup file was under 1 MB. Had I used POP accounts, where the mail is downloaded to my computer and removed from the server, the size of the backup would have been much, much bigger. Second, the program claims to perform the same kind of backup and restore for Firefox and many other Mozilla products, but I only tried it with Thunderbird. For Firefox, I would use Mozilla Weave or Foxmarks.
If the act of re-entering all the information for six or seven email accounts is annoying, the act of reinstalling 20 or 30 software applications and utilities is a royal pain in the ass. It’s pretty simple, though, as I have all my open source applications saved on the 2GB SD card I carry around in my Treo, but I wanted to make it easier. I wanted a simple list of all the programs I had installed on my HP so I could check off the programs as I installed them on my Satellite. A quick Google yielded Belarc Advisor. Here’s the description from their website.
The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server.
While there is a small software installation involved, it not only listed the programs I had installed, it listed many other valuable pieces of information such as IP address and network configuration, domain information and the service packs I had installed. All these results were returned in a fairly well-organized page within my browser so it was easy to print. It makes a great way to take a snapshot of the condition of a computer, and I see great value in printing the report to PDF using the previously-mentioned PDFCreator and saving it for reference.