a blog from CenturyLink

How to transfer data between a cellphone and laptop

by | Jan 6, 2023


Whether your phone is on its last leg or you’re looking to upgrade to the latest device, experts recommend you replace your mobile phone every two to three years. But what happens once you get a new phone and need to transfer your data? Luckily, transferring data to a new device is easier than ever. You have multiple options, depending on the brand, device type, and your personal preferences. Let’s learn how you can transfer data between a cell phone and a laptop with ease.

How to transfer data across devices

Transferring data across devices is easier than ever before. Most companies now have cloud-based services to make upgrading to a new device quick and easy. But what happens if you decide to switch brands? Or if your laptop is a different brand than your cell phone? In this article, we’ll go over the different ways you can transfer data and overcome these obstacles.

If this is your first time buying a phone plan, check out our guide to first phone plans for college students.

Businesswoman trying to transfer data

Transfer data between Apple devices

One of the biggest perks of using Apple products is that the data transfer process is streamlined. You can wirelessly transfer data from your iPhone to a Mac by using iCloud. All you need is your Apple ID and enough iCloud storage space to support your data. If you don’t have enough storage, learn how to free up space.

Then, you’ll use Apple’s Quick Start program to transfer data to your new iPhone. Keep in mind that if you transfer from iCloud, your apps and data will download in the background so you can start using your new device right away. But if you transfer from your previous device, you’ll have to wait for both devices to finish transferring before you can use them.

Transfer data with a USB cable

One of the easiest ways to transfer files between an Android device and a computer is an old-fashioned USB cable. Simply plug one end of the cable into each of your devices and let the transfer begin! This method will work across most platforms, such as when you’re transferring data from Android to Mac or Windows and from iPhone to Windows.

Alternatively, you can upload your files to a cloud-based service such as Google Drive or Dropbox. From there, you’ll simply log in to your account on your new device to access your data.

Man transferring data

Transfer data via Bluetooth

You can transfer files via Bluetooth. However, this method is much slower compared to others and works best with smaller files. You’ll simply enable Bluetooth on both your phone and your laptop and pair the devices. Locate the file you want to transfer on your phone and tap Bluetooth as your share option. On your laptop, you’ll accept the file, which will be sent to your “downloads” folder.

How long will your data take to transfer?

The time it takes for your files to upload to a new device depends on how much data you’re transferring. Horizon Technology estimates that 10 gigabytes (GB) will take around 18 minutes to transfer at a speed of 100 Mbps. At the same speed, 100 GB will take around 3 hours. However, if you’re transferring mass amounts of data, such as 1 TB, it could take up to 30 hours. The average person won’t be transferring that much data, but you should keep the estimated time in mind before you start the transfer.

If you think you may need an internet plan with a higher speed to streamline this process, use our service availability tool to see what CenturyLink services are available at your location. You’ll easily be able to compare internet speed options and find the package that’s right for you. CenturyLink will have your household happily humming along at great internet speeds in next to no time!

Man on his phone learning how to transfer data

Data transfer apps

To streamline the data transfer process for next time, you can invest in a service to help. If you don’t already use a data transfer app or program, consider the advantages. Next time you drop your phone in the backyard pool, shatter your screen, or simply want the latest upgrade, sharing your files will be easier than ever.

Here are some popular data transfer apps:

  • iCloud
  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Nextcloud
  • Syncthing
  • MEGA

What should you do with old technology?

Technology only lasts so long before a user needs to upgrade to a better, more efficient device. On average, laptops are expected to have a lifespan between three and five years while a desktop computer can last anywhere from three to eight years. There are plenty of good reasons to look at replacing older devices. But it’s important to always recycle or donate your old electronics (including your modem) to avoid creating e-waste in your community.

How often do you replace old technology? Let us know in the comments below.

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<a href="https://discover.centurylink.com/author/emilyr" target="_self">Emily Richey</a>

Emily Richey


Emily Richey is the Content Manager for the CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber blogs. A recent graduate of Pace University NYC, she's an avid reader and writer. She spends most of her free time in bookstores and cafes, seeking the perfect cup of coffee.