A reader wants to know if there’s a way to get double the use out of the programs he currently uses.

 “I am thinking of buying my wife a laptop for her personal use. The problem is we have several programs we both use frequently. Is there any way I can copy the hard drive on the desktop and transfer it to the laptop, or to another computer? This way we would be able to use either computer, having the same info on both. (The desktop dates back to 2012).”

There are ways to duplicate programs but first, we should take a look at whether or not it’s worth the expense and trouble.

Many programs, such as a Microsoft 365 subscription and many security programs come with licenses for multiple devices. So all you have to do is download the program to the new PC and activate it.

Other programs are only licensed for one computer. It’s possible you could transfer them with the right software. Transferring a program to another computer is not a violation of the terms of use as long as you deactivate it on the old computer. But for some programs copying and continuing to use the software violates both the terms of use and the law.

For many programs, there are excellent free alternatives. I suggest using Ninite, an excellent free service that helps you find the very best free programs.

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If you decide it’s necessary to copy programs, you have multiple options but it’s going to cost you. Laplink‘s PC Mover is an excellent software with a long track record. It runs between $39 and $59. You’ll also need a transfer cable. The physical copy of PC Mover includes one. EaseUS also makes similar software that costs $49.95 per year.