Gotcha. I also have an XP machine, and only recently got an 8.1 machine, so I just went through all this myself. Transferring all that will be a bit like moving from one house to another. I found the easiest way to do this is to use a flash USB drive, or thumb drive, one that's big enough for all your files and folders, maybe 50 gigabytes or so. Just make sure it has enough memory space on it. You can use your external drive also, which would probably be better. You're going to backup the XP machine to that, then load it on the new machine. (this is your moving truck). There is another way, called Peer-to-Peer transfer, using a hard cable between the 2, or over a LAN (Local Area Network, WiFi, Modem), but this can get quite involved, depending on how much stuff you have on the XP. And, it's always a good idea to completely backup the whole machine anyway.
First, get good virus and adware scanners on the new machine, so you can scan the files and stuff as you load them, just to be sure you don't infect it with something hidden in the XP
Now connect you backup drive of choice to the XP, create a new file on it and name it 'XP Backup'.
Next, 'Export' your browser favorites. On your desktop, right-click on an open area, hover over 'New' then select 'Folder'. A new folder will appear on the desk top. Right-click on it and select 'rename' and call it 'Favorites backup'. Next, open your browser, select 'tools' (I don't know which browser you have but they all have a tool menu). Select 'Export/Import'. The goal here is to export Favorites to the file you just created on the desktop. This will then be backed up with everything else. This may not be necessary, but I did it to make sure it all got transferred.
Now if you have the same version of XP as me, go to the start menu, and select Help and Support Center. Type in "backup" in the search box, then enter. What you want here is to use the 'Backup Wizard', and have some instructions to refer to.
Select "Common tasks: backup" from the results.
Select "Backup files and folders to a file or tape", then "step by step procedure", then "Using the Windows interface". Read these instructions thoroughly, and leave them in the background for reference as you continue.
Step 1 will read "Open Backup", with the word 'backup' highlighted. Click on it; this will bring up the Backup Wizard. Click on 'Advanced Mode'. Select 'Backup Wizard (Advanced)' on the 'Welcome' tab. Click 'Next'.
Now you have a choice of what to back up. I opted for 'Backup everything on this computer'. Click 'Next'. The next screen is where you will select the your external drive. It should appear on the drop down menu in the middle. Click on 'browse', and navigate to the folder you created named 'XP Backup'. Click 'next'. A screen should now come up that states the settings you have selected. If everything is correct, click 'finish'.
If everything worked according to plan, you now have the XP backed up. Use the 'Safely remove hardware' button on the bottom right to disconnect the external drive, then connect it to the new machine. Now import your Favorites. Open Internet Explorer from the desktop (not the one from the start menu. Sidebar: there are 2 ways to display IE in 8.1. One is the tile on the start menu, AKA Metro user interface, the other is from the desktop task bar. This is the one you want.), click on the Favorites star (top right). Next to 'Add to favorites' is a dropdown menu arrow. Click on that and select 'Import and export...' On the next screen, select 'Import from a file'. Click 'Next'. On the next screen, 'Browse' (navigate) to the 'XP Backup' file, then to the favorites file you made on the XP desktop. When you find it, click 'Next', then 'Import'. All your Favorites from the XP will then appear in you new computer's Favorites.
I'm going to stop right here for now, to let you breath. If you get this far in one day, you're not as technophobic as you think. Let me know if you have success so far, or problems, and then we can tackle the programs, which is rather time consuming, with many options. For most of your programs, it is best to just re-download them to the new machine, thereby getting the latest versions. I copied some of my older version programs over to my new machine, since the new versions change the associated files, and then they don't work on the old versions anymore. (I still use my XP for a lot of things). I would explore that first. If you could provide a list of your XP programs it would help.
As for regular files, drag and drop from the external drive into new folders and libraries on the new machine. I would study and get to know 8.1 well before doing this, because 8.1's filing architecture is rather confusing, at first.
If you want to try the Peer to Peer method, it's a different ball game, so let us know.
Edited by dlkramnic, 05 August 2015 - 08:52 AM.