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Moving your Sims 3 game to a new computer

Time consuming, but hopefully painless if you plan ahead.

I recently bought a new laptop, and gosh it's great. But I'll tell you, it has been a real chore to migrate all my Sims 3 stuff over to the new computer. You don't really realize how much Sims 3 stuff you accumulate over the years until you are faced with having to pack it all up and install it on a new computer!

The first thing you should do is bundle up your old family. Do you want to move just your playable Sims to the new computer, or do you want to move your entire town? 
If you only want to move your Sims, then the easiest thing to do is upload them to the Exchange. Fire up your game on your old computer, go to Edit Town, click on your family, then click on the "Share" button that looks like a strange windmill. Once this is done, open your Launcher, go to the Uploads section, and upload your family to the Exchange.

If you want to move your entire town, then you will need to move your Electronic Arts/The Sims 3/Saves/[town name] folder to your new computer. You can put it on a CD, upload it to an online service like Dropbox or Apple iCloud, save it to an external hard drive, or just prepare to file share it across your network. Whatever works for you.
Now it's time to start installing the game on your new computer. Ideally you would want to install all of your expansion packs in the order in which they were released. (That would be World Adventures, Ambitions, Late Night, Generations, Pets, Showtime.) Why? Because each expansion pack includes a patch for the one that came before it.
But from a practical standpoint, I found it much easier to install everything from disk first, then all the download-only expansions second. 
Step 1: Install the base game first. Then install any expansion packs that you have on physical disk. 
Step 2: Fire up Origin (you may need to install it first). Download and install any expansion packs that you bought in downloadable form.
Step 3: Fire up the Launcher and check for updates to your game and store content. This is an important step to get your game patched up to the latest version before you start playing.
Step 4: Go to the Sims 3 website and download any content you purchased directly from the store. You can find it by going to The Store -> My Store Account -> Purchase History.
Step 5: Download your family, or port over your town. To download your family, go to the Sims 3 website and go to My Page -> My Studio. To port over your town, get the old town folder onto your new computer, and drop it in the Saves folder. (You may need to overwrite or rename the existing town file there first.)

Image courtesy of author.