If you want to upgrade from XP, then Microsoft’s free Windows Easy Transfer manger is the key migration utility. 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.
Scenarios for Windows 7 Easy Transfer
- Transfer Old XP Settings to New Machine with Windows 7
- Shared Items
- Upgrade XP to Windows 7 on the Same Machine
- Windows Easy Transfer Executables
Assembling The Tools
You will need to install the Windows Easy Transfer program on your old computer. Make sure that you download the correct version for your existing operating system. Once installed type, ‘Easy Transfer’ in the Windows 7 Search dialog box.
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
Obviously, run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor before you start the migration. Yet this is such a sensible utility that it may well have more suggestions just after you complete the upgrade. Indeed this is a program that you cannot run often enough, so call for it yet again after Windows 7 has been running for a few weeks.
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.
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.
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Tips When Running Windows 7 Easy Transfer
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.
Selecting Which Files to Transfer
There is a trade-off between wanting to sure that you can find settings on the new machine as easily as the old, and using the migration as an opportunity to clean out programs files, and settings that you no longer need. One of the strengths of the Windows 7 Easy Transfer tool is that it gives you options, you can select just what to keep in the new installation. See screenshot opposite, incidentally ‘Sha’ is the Shared Items options.
Windows Easy Transfer Reports
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.
I was relieved to find an advanced options at the bottom of the ‘Choose what to transfer to this computer’ menu. This is because I wanted to map the settings to a different username. Previously the account was Joe on the old XP machine, now they wanted plain Jo on the new Windows 7 machine.
You can also map drives. Fashions vary, there was a time when the vogue was to partition the hard drive and install user files separately from the Windows operating system. However, lately the fashion is to keep it simple, install everything on the C: \drive. Whatever your plan, the Easy Transfer Advanced Options will cater for your transfer needs.
If you have only one machine then all that you can do is replace the XP operating system with Windows 7. If this is your plan I strongly recommend that you reconsider finances, bite the bullet and buy a new machine. However, if the hardware is relatively new then I realize it would be silly to throw it away. Also, not everyone has the funds for a new computer, thus there are situation where an upgrade of the same machine is the only option.
Fortunately there is a well tested path for this upgrade from XP to Windows 7. While other experts recommend an External Hard Disk, I would seek out a laptop or even a desktop to temporarily store the user state files.
- Run the Windows Easy Transfer and create the source files containing all your user settings.
- Install Windows 7 on the computer. Select a Custom (clean) upgrade.
- Then run the Windows Easy Transfer again and let the utility copy the settings to the Users folder of the new installation.
- Re-install old programs such as Microsoft Office. (Get the Keys)
- Keep using Windows Update to get the latest drivers and patches.
- After a month of tweaking the new Windows 7 you could consider using the Disk Cleanup and ask it to delete the Previous Windows Installation.
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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.
Here are the executable files used by both Windows Easy Transfer and its big brother User State Migration Tool (USMT)
The ScanState tool inspects the source computer, collects the files and user settings, and then creates a store. ScanState does not modify the source computer. By default, it compresses the files and stores them as a migration store. ScanState copies files into a temporary location and then into the migration store.
The LoadState tool migrates the files and settings, one at a time, from the store to a temporary location on the destination computer. The files are decompressed, and decrypted if necessary, during this process. Next, LoadState transfers the file to the correct location, deletes the temporary copy, and begins migrating the next file.
Migration .xml files
The .xml files used by USMT for migrations are the MigApp.xml, MigUser.xml, or MigDocs.xml and any custom .xml files that you create.
If you want to exclude components from the migration, you can create and modify the Config.xml file using the /genconfig option with the ScanState tool. This optional file has a different format from the migration .xml files because it does not contain migration rules. The Config.xml file contains a list of the components that can be migrated. You specify migrate = "no" for the components you want to exclude from the migration. Additionally, this file can be used to control some migration options new to USMT 4.0.
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Summary of Windows 7 Easy Transfer
Here is a case of a utility that lives up to its name. With very little effort on your behalf the Windows 7 Easy Transfer wizard will pack-up your old XP settings, store them if necessary, then unpack them inside your new Windows 7 installation. If you are migrating to a new machine take advantage of the Shared Items option, and thus save the effort of a separate backup and restore for ordinary files on the old computer.
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