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Configuration Migration

I'll admit I haven't looked. Part of the reason is that I'm not that concerned. It was just that today as I setup my new work machine the issue of configuration came to the forefront again. I know many applications have the ability to export and import various settings, but that means you need to pop into and out of each one to really transfer your environment from one machine to another. Unless you are methodical, I suspect that you will miss at least one application. Granted that one missed application will probably be one you use less often, but it's just as likely to be an application you installed a long time ago and forgot that you spent an hour one afternoon tweaking it.

You've gotten to think 'Of course that's how it behaves out of the box'. You've been using it that way for the past six months. Who can remember you spent that time tweaking it. One hopes that the need to go back and reconfigure everything isn't a common occurrence. But when it does happen, you really forget how much of a pain it is. I think it would be great if one of two thing happened:

1) All applications stored their configuration information in a standard location that you could easily just copy en-masse from one machine to another. Yeah right! With all of the existing software out there I don't really see this happening.

2) Someone develops a program that knows how to export and import configuration information of common applications.

I'm not talking about anything fancy to translate configuration information from one application to another, like importing Outlook Express information into Thunderbird. It would just need to extract out the Outlook Express configuration so that it can be easily imported on another machine.

Even better this application could store the information up on a centralized datastore like the new Amazon S3 which would make pulling it down to a new machine even easier. Pull out registry junk, configuration files, maybe even individual profiles and send it up. Offer it as a subscription product so that users that want to extract and import data from newer application need to get the latest updates.

Of course once you can extract and import the data then you can start to think about translation or even configuration parity between multiple applications. Ignoring the not so subtle issues about merging and stuff like that :) As I mentioned at the start, I've not looked for anything like this, just ruminating about the idea since I did a lot of configuration today.

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