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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.)
Credits: 

Image courtesy of author.

Comments

Makenzie's picture

Makenzie

So if you do back it up to the exchange and re download your family, will you be able to continue where you left off?

SimmerDown's picture

SimmerDown

The exchange saves only your family, and none of their skill progress, career progress, or anything else. Only the people will be saved, and you have to start over like it's fresh from Create-A-Sim. To pick up where you left off, you would need to transfer your whole town. Your family's skills and whatnot are connected to the story progression of the town, not to the sims themselves.

Sarah's picture

Sarah

Hi,

I have my 'save files' from the 'Electronic Arts' folder on my old computer, now in the 'downloads' folder of my new computer. How do I play the Sims using that saved game? I tried following the instructions above but got a bit lost? I only have the saves folder from my old computer, I can't see one on my new computer...

allie's picture

allie

Im having the same problem. The instructions say that the foldr that houses the saves folder is Electronic Arts. I have that from my old computer, but when I try to find it on my new computer to transfer the files over, it's not even there. It appears that instlling sims and origin no longer gives you an Electric Arts folder, which as far as I can tell means that I've got thousands of files with data from my old computer with no way to import them to the game on my new computer.

xenia's picture

xenia

I had to reinstall the game but I still have my old files.
I tried moving the save file from my back up to the actual game, but the game won't start when I try that, so I have to remove the saves. How can I fix this?
(Can't use the exchange)

Kat.'s picture

Kat.

I want to move my whole town, but i've downloaded different hairstyles and my sims are currently wearing them. Do i have to deinstall all of the downloads before moving my game?

You won't need to uninstall any custom content first. But you will need to reinstall it after you move your town. If you don't reinstall it, the game will just pick a random default hairstyle as a substitute.

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