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Using Windows Easy Transfer to transfer your data to a new computer

By on January 24, 2007 | Last Updated: December 13, 2012 | Read 216,584 times.
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Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The types of data can be transferred
  3. Preparing the computers to use Windows Easy Transfer
  4. Using Windows Easy Transfer with a Easy Transfer Cable
  5. Using Windows Easy Transfer over a Network
  6. Using Windows Easy Transfer with Removable Media
  7. Using Windows Easy Transfer with in-place and clean install upgrades
  8. Conclusion

Introduction

When purchasing a new computer one of the most frustrating experiences is moving existing data to the new computer from the older one. In the past when you wanted to transfer data you had to copy the data via a network, store it onto a DVD/CD/Floppy and then copy it back onto the new PC, or physically take the hard drive out of the old machine and install it into the new machine. The main problem using these methods was that you could only move files such as documents, pictures, movies, saved games, etc. E-mail could be moved but was a difficult a process. Moving settings and program configurations, on the other hand, was not possible, except for the experts, and you had to reconfigure each of the applications on the new computer. Windows Vista changes all this with a new bundled application called Windows Easy Transfer that can easily migrate data from Windows XP SP2, Windows 2000 SP4, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 operating systems. It is important to note that though you can transfer data from Windows 2000, you can not transfer settings.

Windows Easy Transfer is a program that comes bundled with Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, and when run, scans our computer for data and settings that you can transfer to your new computer. This migration can be done via a myriad of methods including USB flash drives, DVDs, a network, or by using a new product called a Easy Transfer Cable. What makes this program so powerful and easy to use is that it is wizard driven so you just answer questions, make sure all of your data was properly selected, and then press a button to start the transfer. For this tutorial, we will focus primarily on migrating our data using the Easy Transfer Cable or via a network. We chose these two methods as they are the easiest and quickest methods to transfer your data.

The types of data can be transferred

Using Windows Easy Transfer you can migrate most files and program settings. Below is a table describing the types of data and settings that can be moved.

Data Type
Specifics
Files and Folders Any files found in your My Documents, My Pictures, and Shared Documents folder will be selected to be moved automatically. You can also add other documents that are in other locations.
E-mail messages and Settings E-mail messages, contacts, account settings, and address books from Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail, and other programs.
Program Settings Programs that are compatible with Vista will have their settings transferred to the new computer. In order for this properly to work the program must already be installed on the Vista computer.
User Settings Desktop settings, color settings, screen savers, fonts, Windows options, printers, etc.
Internet Settings Favorites, cookies, and Internet Explorer settings.
Pictures, Video, and Music Music files, playlists, and album are. Pictures (gif, jpg, bmp files) and personal videos.


Preparing the computers to use Windows Easy Transfer

Before you use Windows Easy Transfer on your older computer you first need to install the software. The three methods that can be used to install Windows Easy Transfer on the old computer are:

  • The Windows DVD
     
  • A CD that comes with an Easy Transfer Cable
     
  • Media that we create via the Windows Easy Transfer program in Windows.

The two easiest methods are to use the Windows DVD to install the program. To install the software off of the Windows DVD just insert it into the old computer and when the setup menu appears click on the Transfer files and settings from another computer option. If we have autorun disabled then open the DVD and double-click on the setup.exe program. The setup screen is shown below.

Vista DVD Setup Screen
Figure 1. Vista DVD setup screen

If you purchased a Easy Transfer Cable then insert the CD that came with it into the old machine and install the software. If these two options are not available then follow the instructions below in order to create installation media using the Windows Windows Easy Transfer program.

The following instructions should be performed on the new Windows computer.

  1. Click on the Start button.
     
  2. Click on the All Programs menu option.
     
  3. Click on Accessories
     
  4. Click on System tools
     
  5. Click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon.
     
  6. When Windows Easy Transfer starts, click on the Start a new transfer option
     
  7. At the next screen you should click on the My New Computer option.
     
  8. When it asks if we have an easy transfer cable, click on the option labeled No, show me more options.
     
  9. At the next screen it will ask if we have Windows Easy Transfer installed on the older computer. We should select the option labeled No, I need to install it now.
     
  10. A new screen will appear asking how we would like to install Windows Easy Transfer on the older computer. Our options are to use a CD, USB Flash Drive, External Hard Disk or shared network folder, Windows Installation Disc or Windows Easy Transfer DVD.


    Create Installation Media Options
    Figure 2. Create installation media options
    • If you select the CD option, Vista will ask for the drive letter that corresponds to a CD or DVD writer. Insert blank media into the writer and select its drive letter in the drop down menu. Then press the Next button to create the installation software on this media.
       
    • If you select the USB flash Drive option, Vista will ask for the driver letter of our USB flash drive. Select the driver letter and press the Next button to copy the installations files to the drive. This option will be dimmed and unavailable if there is no USB flash drive plugged into the computer.
       
    • If you select the External hard disk or shared network folder option, Vista will ask for a folder on an external hard drive or a network share where the installation files will be stored. Under this newly created folder will be a autorun.inf file and another folder called MigWiz. To start the setup open the MigWiz folder and double-click on the Migsetup.exe file.
       
    • If you select the Windows installation disc or Windows Easy Transfer CD option, Vista will assume that one of these two methods were used and ask how we would like to transfer our data.
       
  11. When the installation media has finished being created, use this media to install Windows Easy Transfer on to the older computer.

Using Windows Easy Transfer with a Easy Transfer Cable

For many users the best method to transfer data to a new Windows computer is to use a Easy Transfer Cable. An Easy Transfer Cable is a cable that has a USB plug on each end of the cable and gets plugged into both computers. This allows you to transfer data between the two computers using the Windows Easy Transfer program. For the best speed, it is advised that you plug both ends of the cable into a USB 2.0 port on each computer in order to maximize your transfer speed. The steps necessary to use an Easy Transfer Cable to migrate data to our new computer are outlined below. As you go through these instructions the tutorial will indicate which computer you should be using.

Do not plug the Easy Transfer Cable into either computer as of yet!

On the new Vista computer:

  1. Click on the Start () button.
     
  2. Click on the All Programs menu option.
     
  3. Click on the Accessories menu option.
     
  4. Click on the System tools menu option.
     
  5. Finally click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon to start the program. When the program loads you will be greeted with the welcome screen below.



    Windows Easy Transfer Welcome Screen
    Figure 3. Windows Easy Transfer welcome screen


    Click on the Next button to continue to the next screen.

  6. You will now be at a screen, shown below, where the program is asking whether this is a new transfer or if you want to continue an old one.


    Select Transfer Type
    Figure 4. Select the transfer type


    As this is a new transfer click on the Start a new transfer option

  7. At the new screen the program will ask whether the computer we are performing these steps on is the old or new one.


    Select the computer you are on
    Figure 5. Select the computer we are on


    As you are doing this step on the new computer, you should click on the My new computer option.

  8. You will now see a screen asking if we have an Easy Transfer Cable or need to use another method to transfer the data.


    Do we have an easy transfer cable
    Figure 6. Do we have an easy transfer cable?


    Since these instructions are for using the Easy Transfer cable, select Yes, I have an Easy Transfer Cable.

  9. Your computer is now in a ready state waiting for the two computers to be connected via the Easy Transfer Cable. An example of this screen is below.



    Waiting for the other computer to connect
    Figure 7. Waiting for the other computer to connect


    For now, hold off on inserting the Easy Transfer Cable until you get the older computer set up and ready to go. Let's move on to the steps that you need to do on the old computer.

 

On the older computer:

  1. Insert the CD that came with the Easy Transfer Cable into the older computer.
     
  2. When the setup program starts you should click on the Next button.
     
  3. Select I agree and press the Next button.
     
  4. When the program is done installing you should click on the Finish button.

On both the older computer and the new Vista computer:

  1. Take one end of the Easy Transfer Cable and plug it into the old computer's USB port. If the older computer has a USB 2.0 port you should use that port in order to achieve the best transfer speeds.
     
  2. Take the other end and plug it into the Vista computer's USB port.


On the older computer:

  1. When you plug the cable into the older computer a small window will appear asking if you would like to transfer files. Select the Take no action option and then press the OK button.
     
  2. Click on the Start Menu, select All Programs, and finally click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon.
     
  3. When the Windows Easy Transfer welcome screen appears click on the Next button.
     
  4. You will now be at a screen asking if we want to use an Easy Transfer Cable to transfer the files.



    Select Transfer Type
    Figure 8. Select the transfer type


    Click on the Use an Easy Transfer Cable (recommended) option.

    Once we select that option, the Windows Easy Transfer program on both computers will attempt to connect to each other. When they connect, you will see a screen like the following appear on the new Windows machine.
     

    Vista Detected the connection and is now waiting for the data to be transfered
    Figure 9. Vista detected the connection and is now waiting for the data to be transferred
  5. Now that a connection has been established, Windows Easy Transfer on the older machine will automatically switch to a new window asking what data you would like to transfer.



    Data Transfer Options
    Figure 10. Data transfer options


    Select the All user accounts, files, and settings (Recommended) option.
     
  6. A new screen will appear listing the programs, files, settings, mail data, favorites, etc that will be moved over to the new computer. This data is grouped by user so you can easily see what user's data will be moved.


    The Data that will be transferred
    Figure 11. The data that will be transferred


    If you are happy with the settings click on the Transfer button and proceed to the next step in this guide. On the other hand if want to add files that the program did not automatically select or remove files, click on the Customize button. This will bring you to a new screen where you can customize the data that will be transferred.


    Customize the Data that will be transferred
    Figure 12. Customize the data that will be transferred


    Using the Add files, Add folders, Select Drives, and Exclude folders options, customize the data that will be transferred to the new computer. If there are files or folders that were not added automatically, use the Add files or Add folders options to browse to this data so it is added. You can also exclude data from being transferred by removing the checkmark next to a specific item in the list.

    Once you have customized the data that will be transferred to the new computer, click on the Next button to continue.
     
  7. A new screen will appear that allows you to specify whether or not the data should be transferred to an existing Vista account or if a new account should be created to transfer the data to.



    Figure 13. Account to transfer the data


    To specify a new account, type the login name that you would like created. If you would like to use an existing account then use the drop down menu to select the account that will receive the data. If you create a new account, the password of the old account is not transferred to the new computer. Instead when you log into that account for the first time, the new Windows computer will prompt you to set a new password.
     
  8. At this point the data will begin to transfer to the new computer.


    Data is being transferred to the new computer
    Figure 14. Data is being transferred to the new computer



    Once the data transfer is complete you will see a screen similar to the one below.


    The Data Transfer is Complete
    Figure 15. The data transfer is complete


    Because the data has finished transferring you should press the Close button to shut down the program.

On the new Vista computer:

  1. After the transfer has been completed you will be shown a summary screen of the files that were transferred.


    Transfer Summary
    Figure 16. Transfer Summary



    If you want to see all the information that was transferred you can click on the Show me everything that was transferred option. When done, click on the Close button to exit the program.
     
  2. Vista will now ask you to log off in order to finish the transfer. Allow it to log you off, and when you log back on, all your settings and data will have been transferred to your existing account or the new account if one was created.

Your data has now been successfully migrated to our new computer.

 

Using Windows Easy Transfer over a Network

By far the quickest and cheapest method to transfer your data is over a network. For those of you who have a network set up this is definitely the choice you should use. A lot of the steps described below have already been discussed with screen shots in the previous section. Therefore, we have only added screen shots to this section when the screen is new to this tutorial.

On the new Windows computer:

  1. Click on the Start () button.
     
  2. Click on the All Programs menu option.
     
  3. Click on the Accessories menu option.
     
  4. Click on the System tools menu option.
     
  5. Finally click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon to start the program.
     
  6. When the welcome screen appears click on the Next button to continue.
     
  7. At this screen you will be prompted to start a new transfer or resume an existing one. As you are performing a new transfer select the Start a new transfer option.
     
  8. You will now be asked what computer, the old or new, you are on. As you are doing these instructions on the Windows computer, select the My new computer option.
     
  9. Windows Easy Transfer will now ask how you would like to transfer the data. As you are going to transfer the data over the network, and not via a Easy Transfer cable, select No, show me more options to continue to the next screen.
     
  10. At this screen select the Yes, I installed it option as you should have already installed Windows Easy Transfer on your older computer.
     
  11. On this screen the program asks if we want to transfer the data over the network or using removable media.



    Select the Transfer Type
    Figure 17. Select the Transfer Type



    You want to transfer the files over the network so select Yes, I'll transfer files and settings over the network.
     
  12. In order for the new computer and the older computer to properly connect and securely transfer files, you need to generate a security key. Windows Easy Transfer will use this key to find the new Windows computer and connect securely to it. The screen, shown below, asks if you have an existing key or need to create one.



    Figure 18. Create a Windows Easy Transfer Network Key



    As you do not currently have a Windows Easy Transfer key, you need to create one. To do this click on the No, I need a key option.
     
  13. Windows Easy Transfer will now create the security and display it to us in the screen below.



    Windows Easy Transfer Network Key
    Figure 19. Windows Easy Transfer Network Key


    Write down the key as you will need to input it on the older computer before you can transfer data to the new machine. The program will now wait to be connected to by the older computer.


On the older computer:

  1. Click on our Start Menu, select All Programs, and finally click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon.
     
  2. When the Windows Easy Transfer welcome screen appears click on the Next button.
     
  3. At the following screen, click on the Transfer directly, using a network connection option.
     
  4. When it asks how you would like to transfer the data over the network select the option labeled Use a network connection.
     
  5. You will now be asked whether or not you have a Windows Easy Transfer key. That is the key you created on our Vista machine and wrote down. As you have the key select Yes, I have a key.
     
  6. The program will now prompt you to input your Windows Easy Transfer key. Type the key into the field labeled Type our Windows Easy Transfer key. When you are done click on the Next button.
     
  7. You are now presented with a screen asking what type of data you would like to transfer. Select the All user accounts, files, and settings (Recommended) option.
     
  8. A new screen will appear listing the programs, files, settings, mail data, favorites, etc that will be moved over to the new computer. This data is grouped by user so you can easily see what user's data will be moved. If you are happy with the settings click on the Transfer button and proceed to the next step in this guide. On the other hand if want to add files that the program did not automatically select or remove files, click on the Customize button. This will bring you to a new screen where you can customize the data that will be transferred.

    If you clicked on the Customize button you can use the Add files, Add folders, Select Drives, and Exclude folders options, customize the data that will be transferred to the new computer. If there are files or folders that were not added automatically, use the Add files or Add folders options to browse to this data so it is added. You can also exclude data from being transferred by from being transferred by removing the checkmark next to a specific item in the list.

    Once you have customized the data that will be transferred to the new computer, click on the Next button to continue to go to the next step.
     
  9. A new screen will appear that allows you to specify whether or not the data should be transferred to an existing account or if a new account should be created to transfer the data to. To specify a new account, type the login name that you would like created. If you would like to use an existing account then use the drop down menu to select the account that will receive the data. If you create a new account, the password of the old account is not transferred to the new computer. Instead when you log into that account for the first time, the new Windows computer will prompt you to set a new password.
     
  10. At this point the data will be transferred to the new computer. Once the transfer is complete, you should press the Close button to exit the program.


On the new Windows computer:

  1. After the transfer has been completed you will be shown a summary screen of the files that were transferred. If you want to see all the information that was transferred click on the Show me everything that was transferred option. When done, click on the Close button to exit the program.
     
  2. Vista will now ask you to log off in order to finish the transfer. Allow it to log off, and when you log back on, all your settings and data will have been transferred to your existing account or to the new account if one was created.

Your data has now been successfully migrated to the new computer.


Using Windows Easy Transfer with Removable Media

Windows Easy Transfer also has the ability to transfer our data using removable media. This method is not suggested unless we are moving small amounts of data due to the limited capacities of removable media. As this method will not be used too often we only provide brief instructions.

On the older computer:

  1. Start Windows Easy Transfer, start a new transfer, on the older computer and go through the screens until it asks you how we would like to transfer the data. At this prompt we would select Use a CD, DVD, or other removable media.
     
  2. You will now be at a screen where it asks you what removable media you would like to use to transfer the data.


    Remobable Media Choice
    Figure 20. Removable Media Choice



    You should now select the removable media type that you wish to use to transfer the data. The CD and USB flash drive options will be dimmed and unavailable unless the appropriate media is inserted into the computer. Therefore we need blank media in the CD or DVD writer or a USB flash drive plugged into the computer for these options to be available.
     
  3. Once you select the removable media that you will use, the program will prompt you for the driver letter for this media. Select the drive letter and press the Next button.
     
  4. The program will start copying the data to the removable media. When it is done you will be shown a screen stating that you should remove the media and insert it into the new Windows machine.


    Remove the media
    Figure 21. Remove the media


    Remove the media.

On the new Windows computer:

  1. Insert the removable media it into the new Windows machine.
     
  2. Launch Windows Easy Transfer on the new computer and follow the prompts until it asks if this is a new or existing transfer. As we are finishing an existing transfer we select Continue a transfer in progress.
     
  3. At the next screen when it asks what type of transfer you want to continue, select Removable media.
     
  4. When it asks for the location of our files, browse to the removable media and then press the Next button.
     
  5. Follow the rest of the prompts to finish migrating the data from your removable media.

Your data has now been transferred to your new computer.

Using Windows Easy Transfer with clean install upgrades

When upgrading Windows from a previous operating system you have two different upgrade methods that you can use. The first is the in-place upgrade which will take your existing version of XP, other than XP Pro 64 bit, and upgrade it to the new version of Windows while retaining all of your data and settings. The other option is to use a clean install which will install a brand new version of Windows on your computer and not migrate over any data or settings. This is considered the cleanest install as it wont have any legacy data or files copied over from your previous version of Windows. Unfortunately if you are upgrading from Windows 2000 you must use a clean install method for your upgrade.

For those who like to have fresh installs, the clean install upgrade is definitely the best way to go. The problem, though, is that using this method your data and settings are not migrated. It is possible, though, to get the benefits of retaining your data and settings while having a fresh install of Windows by using Windows Easy Transfer. Simply start a new Windows Easy Transfer on your old computer and transfer your data and settings to a file stored on an external or secondary hard drive. You can then take that data and import it into the fresh install of Windows at a later date. To do that you would follow these steps:

  1. Click on our Start Menu, select All Programs, and finally click on the Windows Easy Transfer icon.
     
  2. When the Windows Easy Transfer welcome screen appears click on the Next button.
     
  3. When it asks how you would like to transfer your files click on the Use a CD, DVD, or other removable media option.
     
  4. At the following screen where it asks what type of media you would like to use you should select the External hard disk or to a network location option.
     
  5. You will now be asked for a folder to store the data. Either select an existing folder on an external or secondary hard drive, or create a new one, and then press the Next button.
     
  6. If all the data that you want to transfer is selected, press the Transfer button. Otherwise press the Customize button and add all of the data you would like to transfer. When done press the Next button.
     
  7. When the data is finished being stored in the specified folder you can now close the program.

Now perform the clean install upgrade on your old computer. When done with the upgrade you can now run Windows Easy Transfer in the new Windows computer and import the data and settings you saved to the external or secondary hard drive.

Conclusion

As you can see the Windows Easy Transfer program provides a myriad of mediums to transfer your data to your new computer. Not only that, but you now have the ability to easily move your e-mail, documents, and program settings without hiring a consultant or having advanced computer skills. As always, if we want to learn more about, or discuss with our peers, the various features of Windows Easy Transfer, then feel free to talk about it in our Windows forums.

 

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