My mission this week is to share with you my enjoyable experience of migrating user settings from XP (or Vista) to Windows 7.
Easy Transfer lives up to its name. It really does move a user’s settings from an XP machine to a new installation of Window 7 smoothly and completely. Now, I have been employing Microsoft’s User Setting Migration Tools since Windows 98. While these ancestors of Easy Transfer frustrated me because they only found 80% of the files, the Windows 7 version completed the job effortlessly and with 100% satisfaction; I even had to suppress the desire to make-work and find another project to test it on!
This latest version of the Easy Transfer manager typifies my vision of how Windows 7 programmers deconstructed each feature of Vista, polished its rough edges, added a sprinkling of intelligence, and then recreated it as a Windows 7 component. Another minor miracle is that somehow the new Windows 7 version manages to do more ‘stuff’, yet its menus are easier to navigate.
Basics of The Easy Transfer
Although the Windows 7 Easy Transfer is a joy to use, you have to give it a chance, please download the correct version for your old 32/64 bit XP (or Vista) machine from Microsoft’s site. I am also assuming that you have installed Windows 7 on the new machine, and have found its built-in Windows Easy Transfer program. However, if you intend to install Windows 7 on the SAME machine, you will have to modify my plan and store the old settings before you install Windows 7.
My first tip is to fixate on the NEW computer, that is the one with the Windows 7 installation. Easy Transfer is essentially a pull process, thus once installed, you launch Windows Easy Transfer on the old operating system and forget about that machine. For my migration I had the luxury of a brand new machine, which had a network connection to the old XP computer. If you want to transfer setting on the same machine then seek the option to store files on an external hard disk or USB flash drive. Talking of options, I have glossed over all the other choices such as which files to omit, and whether you want to map to a different user account on the Windows 7 machine.
On the subject of networking, I confess to a problem; I tried to transfer 20GB of data using a wireless connection. After about 20 minutes the transfer appeared to stall, so I cancelled, found an ethernet network cable and retried. From that point onwards the transfer worked flawlessly. To be fair, the operation may have stalled because I started to do stuff on the Windows 7 machine despite the transfer Wizard telling me not to.
Tips – Shared Item Option and Windows Transfer Report
My top tip when using Easy Transfer is to look for the ‘Shared Items’ option. This saved me time because it appeared to backup or ‘package’ all the ordinary folders, those locations where the user had stored stuff on their old machine. The benefit was when the transfer completed, there was all the old data in exactly the same place as on the old machine, the user was delighted and a week later still has not complained of any lost files – unusual for a migration.
Keep your eye on the Windows Transfer Report. Here is another intelligent wizard, which lists all the programs that you need to re-install on the new machine. The only surprise is that Microsoft’s recommendation is to install these programs AFTER the transfer and not before. My friend ‘Barking’ Eddie says I have a problem with authority, because why else would Guy defy Microsoft’s instruction and install MS Office and other programs before the transfer? Good news, it did not matter. In my case, Word and Excel worked fine after the upgrade. Eddie thinks I was just lucky, and that when you install a program its routine can detect user settings and adjust the installation to make sure it links to these paths.
Summary of Windows Easy Transfer
Friends who know me would not say I have a critical nature, thus I have surprised people by ‘putting the boot in’ to so many of the programs that I have reviewed. My grumble has been that utilities should either be truly easy to install, or else their creators should not hype them in that way. At last I have found in Windows Easy Transfer a utility that installs effortlessly and performs just as advertised. Furthermore, if Easy Transfer does its job despite my failure to read detailed instructions, then it’s a clever program which will serve you well.
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Windows 8 Features: