Relocate Your Data (Part 2)

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Windows easy transfer

As the name implies, Windows Easy Transfer is probably the simplest way for many people to make the move from one PC to another, and it offers various transport mechanisms – including a network connection, burning files to CD or DVD, copying them to a USB memory stick or a USB data-transfer cable.

The cable method is the simplest, though you may need to buy the cord. The wire may come with a CD containing Windows Easy Transfer tool, but if not, download it from at (remember, it’s built into Windows 7, so this applies only to XP  and Vista). Click the blue Download button alongside the relevant version and follow the prompts to download and install the tool, accepting all the default options.

A USB memory key could provide a quick and easy way to transfer just a few files

A USB memory key could provide a quick and easy way to transfer just a few files

Beginning at your (old) PC, click Start followed by All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and then Windows Easy Transfer. Now switch to the new (Windows 7) computer and do the same. On both computers, when the Welcome to Windows Easy Transfer screen appears, click Next. The next dialogue box asks how the files should be transferred: choose ‘An Easy Transfer cable’ on both computers.

The old (Windows XP/Vista) PC will display only ‘This is my old computer’ as an option – click it. On the Windows 7 PC, choose ‘This is my new computer’ and you’ll be asked: ‘Do you need to install Windows Easy Transfer on your old computer?’. Choose ‘I already installed it on my old computer’. Then click Next on both computers.

Now attach the Windows Easy Transfer cable between both computers – each end simply needs to be inserted into a USB socket. The Windows 7 computer will scan the old computer’s contents and, after a short delay, display a list of user accounts, settings and files that can be transferred. Meanwhile, the old computer will display a ‘Transferring files and settings…’, though note that nothing is actually being transferred just yet.

It isn't usually possible to transfer applications but Windows Easy Transfer will produce a report of what’s installed on your old PC

It isn't usually possible to transfer applications but Windows Easy Transfer will produce a report of what’s installed on your old PC

The new computer will display a ‘Choose what to transfer’ window. Each available user account will be listed and ticked by default, so click to remove ticks if necessary. Alternatively, transfer selected items from each user account by clicking Customize before making your selections. Note that programs and applications cannot be transferred and will need to be installed afresh on the new computer.

It’s possible to tweak how transferred user accounts will appear when they arrive on the Windows 7 PC. When the old computer displays the ‘Choose what to transfer’ dialogue box, click Advanced Options. By default the main account on the old computer will be transferred to the default account on the new computer, even if their names differ. If this isn’t acceptable then choose Create User from the dropdown menu here; this will force the creation of a new user account on the Windows 7 PC. Give the new user account a name, tap in a password and click Create. Now click Save to exit the Advanced Options dialogue box.

On the new Windows 7 computer, click the Transfer button. A ‘Transferring files and settings to this computer’ window appears, showing the progress of the various items selected for transfer. The process may take a long while, depending on the amount of data being transferred. Whatever else you do now, don’t interrupt the computers; if either computer is a laptop, ensure it is attached to mains power.

Eventually, the ‘Your transfer is complete’ window will appear on the Windows 7 computer. Click the ‘See what was transferred’ link if curious about the detail; subsequently clicking the ‘See a list of programs you might want to install on your new computer’ option will display a list of applications installed on the old PC. When finished, Windows Easy Transfer can be safely closed.

When finished, Windows Easy Transfer can be safely closed

When finished, Windows Easy Transfer can be safely closed

Give it a go

We’ve shown that transferring all your stuff to a new computer can be relatively straightforward. Indeed, transferring personal files and folders and even personal settings – may prove less irksome than reinstalling the applications and tools you’ve likely added to Windows since first setting up the PC. So fear of file transfers shouldn’t put you off buying a new PC – it’s a lot easier than you think.

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