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Microsoft Files and Settings Transfer Wizard
Old 09-20-2008, 09:51 AM   #1
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Microsoft Files and Settings Transfer Wizard

I have a new WinVista PC coming. I want to transfer all my "stuff" from my old WinXP PC to the new one. In the past, I have always re-installed software from scratch and copied my personal files to floppies or CDR and copied them over. However, I have about 70G of "stuff" these days (30G in music/video alone), so it's a much larger undertaking than it used to be.

Needless to say I don't want unnecessary junk coming over, and I am sure my old PC is cluttered with it. Wondered if any of you have ever actually used Microsoft's Files and Settings Transfer Wizard?
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:00 AM   #2
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When I've gotten a new 'puter, I've usually just yanked the hard drive out of the old one and stuck it in the new one, and then transferred (from old drive to new drive) what I wanted to keep. It makes it a whole lot easier than copying to/from CD's or DVD's or what have you.

In some instances after I had put the old drive in the new 'puter, I just left it in there as a secondary drive....that way if there was anything else I had forgotten to transfer over, it was still readily available.
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:05 AM   #3
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Nope, haven't used the Wizard.

I just got a new desktop PC with Vista, to replace my old XP machine. I put my documents and photos on a couple of CD's (since I wanted to also transfer them to another Vista machine), and transferred them that way. I transferred my MSIE "favorites" file as well, simply renaming and replacing the one on the new machine, and I was done.

I am installing the software as I use the new machine if I find I need something. It seems I rarely used a lot of what I had on the old machine and I haven't had to do much in that department. I should probably install MS Office on it today, though.

If I had 30 GB of music/videos, I think I would hang myself. (just joking!) That sounds like a real pain to transfer. I think I just had one Beethoven symphony and that was about it - - essentially nothing in music/video.
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Old 09-20-2008, 10:14 AM   #4
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I tried using the wizard two years ago using the direct cable connection. It was taking forever so I stopped it--all I wanted was saved files, not programs, from the old computer. I did what Goonie suggests--the computer store sold a little usb gizmo to plug my old hard drive into, which then showed up on the new computer's desktop as Drive F or something. It took no time to drag what I needed from the old hard drive to the new computer's desktop.

But maybe I was doing something wrong with the files and settings transfer wizard.
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goonie View Post
When I've gotten a new 'puter, I've usually just yanked the hard drive out of the old one and stuck it in the new one, and then transferred (from old drive to new drive) what I wanted to keep. It makes it a whole lot easier than copying to/from CD's or DVD's or what have you.

In some instances after I had put the old drive in the new 'puter, I just left it in there as a secondary drive....that way if there was anything else I had forgotten to transfer over, it was still readily available.
Interesting, I hadn't thought of doing that. Thanks...
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Originally Posted by W2R
If I had 30 GB of music/videos, I think I would hang myself. (just joking!) That sounds like a real pain to transfer. I think I just had one Beethoven symphony and that was about it - - essentially nothing in music/video.
What I didn't tell you is it's all on my iPod. I think if I install iTunes on my new 'puter and connect my iPod, everything will automatically download back to the new 'puter - but not sure, we'll see.
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:04 AM   #6
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Why wouldn't you use the wizard, isn't that what it's for?

Explore the features: Windows Easy Transfer

Ok, that's weird, you need to load special software on the OLD computer and BUY a special cable? And it only works with XP>Vista.

Oh, and your apps are not transferred? Seems odd, don't you want them on your new computer (they might need updating, but might as well have them there for that?)?

Quote:
Programs (applications) are not transferred.
Quote:
Easy Transfer Cable. This is a special USB cable that is designed to work with Windows Vista and Windows Easy Transfer. You can purchase this cable from selected computer manufacturers and retailers. You install a small piece of software
I've used the Mac version, on several occasions. Worked well for me, no special cable (standard FireWire cable that I already had). And it presents options to skip things you don't want to copy (by folder IIRC, and maybe file type or date - but no, it can't figure what is 'junk' or not for you ). The SW is built in - nothing to load, and handles versions back to 10.1.

Mac OS X 10.3, 10.4: Transferring data with Setup Assistant / Migration Assistant FAQ

and here:

Mac OS X 10.4 Help: Using Migration Assistant to transfer files

sounds pretty easy. The Vista wizard ought to be at least as good, no?

Quote:
To transfer files using Migration Assistant:

1) From the Finder on your new computer, open Migration Assistant, located in the Utilities folder in your Applications folder.

2) Follow the onscreen instructions to connect a FireWire cable and choose the files you want to transfer.
Hey - there's no step 3! And they mean it this time!
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:13 AM   #7
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The wizard is a pain in the butt and doesn't always work right. There are different versions of the wizard, and it will complain if you try to restore with a different version than you used to back up. Also, sometimes it just doesn't work.

But when it does work it's pretty cool.

I haven't tried it in Vista yet, but in XP you go to the target PC and create a wizard disk when it asks you to. Then you run the wizard on that disk on the old PC to make sure you're using the same version of the wizard.

I would just copy my data manually and keep the old hard drive or an entire backup of it handy. Most of your data will be under your username in "Documents and Settings" usually off of the C: drive. And usually you just need the Desktop, My Documents and Favorites.

Of course there are gotchas. If you have personal/local email folders they will be hiding under Application Data or Local Settings\Application Data somewhere depending on your email client. Other programs might store data there, too, but email is the one that stands out as most important. Some programs--notably games (save game data)--store data under their program folder in Program Files. And some users create their own storage folders in their favorite historical place which might not make sense to anyone else. I have seen folders like c:\Jim, c:\documents and c:\temp (!), and I have even seen more than one user use the recycle bin as an important data storage folder. (I guess they really miss "My Briefcase" and don't know how to make a new folder on their desktops.) So if you have your own data folder you copy that over, too. The transfer wizard will miss the custom personal folders if it's not on the desktop, and it will not copy anything in the recycle bin, and it will not copy program data stored under Program Files.

What the wizard is good at--when it works--is backing up the Windows-standard places for storing data and settings, so model Windows XP programs get their user settings and data transferred. But if you use older programs, non-complying programs or roll-your-own data storage it may not copy what you want.

Hope that helps.
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External Hard Drive
Old 09-20-2008, 11:27 AM   #8
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External Hard Drive

My two cents - with that much data, you need a backup strategy.

I agree with Goonie. Installing the old hard drive in the new computer not only makes it easy to transfer the data to a new hard drive, it is also a reasonable (not perfect) backup solution for protecting your data in the future.

My addition would be one (or more) external hard drives to hold your future backups. Around $100 will get you a 500 gb drive.

Mike Honeycutt
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Old 09-20-2008, 11:29 AM   #9
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I've used the wizard pretty successfully a couple of times but not as a one-step process.

You still need to reinstall your apps, any data thats not in your standard user/documents folder wont be transferred, and some settings between XP and vista arent 100% compatible.

Installing your old hard drive in your new computer may or may not be possible. If your old computer uses IDE drives, you may find that your new one is SATA drive only. You can always buy an IDE card to stick in there for $10, but its an extra step and an extra piece of HW.

You'll also be using an extra 20-25watts of power while that drive is running.

Might be better to stick the drive in a $15 external USB enclosure and keep it around for archival/backup purposes.

The way you want to do it is to do the files/settings transfer to a file on the original computer (or to an external disk drive), then get the file onto the new computer and reverse the process. The 'direct cable' or 'over the network' options are realllllly slow.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:03 PM   #10
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My two cents - with that much data, you need a backup strategy.
Agree - it is essential.

Quote:
I agree with Goonie. Installing the old hard drive in the new computer not only makes it easy to transfer the data to a new hard drive, it is also a reasonable (not perfect) backup solution for protecting your data in the future.
I'll throw in a caveat to this. A 2nd internal is fast and convenient, but - if you have a power glitch, or your computer is physically damaged/stolen - your precious backup may have went with it.

Quote:
My addition would be one (or more) external hard drives to hold your future backups. Around $100 will get you a 500 gb drive.

Mike Honeycutt
Agreed - and I then unplug the external, and put it on a shelf in another room. Adds an additional layer of security. Offsite is better, but a DVD of the data is probably good enough, or maybe a flash drive of key data at current prices. Those easily fit into a small Safety Deposit box.

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:07 PM   #11
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I've used the wizard pretty successfully a couple of times but not as a one-step process.

You still need to reinstall your apps, any data thats not in your standard user/documents folder wont be transferred, ...
Wow, I didn't realize it was that limited. No wonder people are not too thrilled with it, esp since they have to buy a unique cable for what might be a one-time use.

The term 'wizard' is used pretty loosely I guess

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Old 09-20-2008, 01:12 PM   #12
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Well, if you stick files in c:\bob\smith\working data\temporary stuff, how is an operating system to know those are useful user data files that need to be transferred, or some sort of junk an application created years ago that the user doesnt even know exists?
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:30 PM   #13
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You may want to consider purchasing a $25 gigabit nic for the old pc, then acquire a gigabit ethernet crossover cable or use standard cables with hub/switch. the Gigabit (1,000 megabits / 100 megabytes per second) transfer rate should be sufficient for the data migration. Afterwards, the old PC can still be useful now that its on your fast home network... maybe even pick up a cheapo KVM for it so you can get quick access to the console.

For external storage enclosures make sure you get one that is not just USB 2.0 but also offers an eSATA connection so your new computer can take advantage of the much faster connection.
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Old 09-20-2008, 01:55 PM   #14
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Well, if you stick files in c:\bob\smith\working data\temporary stuff, how is an operating system to know those are useful user data files that need to be transferred, or some sort of junk an application created years ago that the user doesnt even know exists?
The OS isn't going to know. That's the point. So the default condition the Mac OS takes is to copy them all, plus give the user the option of selecting what not to copy.

Considering that the HD on the new computer is very likely to be bigger than the HD on the old computer, it seems like a reasonable default.

I'd much rather clean out the old stuff at my convenience, right after making a backup, than to find that my 'wizard' chose not to copy it, and now I need it. At that point (maybe much later), you would be trying to dig up a backup of the OLD computer. Kinda risky way to go about it.

BTW, a bit later I'll start a thread on incremental backups with a Flash Drive. I've been doing this for about a month and it's working out really well for me. It might be good info for others too.

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Old 09-20-2008, 02:28 PM   #15
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Its not a good default if there were files containing state information that will cause a freshly installed application to misbehave.

Good thing the transfer for the mac transfers everything. I had to clean our mac out before we sold it and the sucker put stuff EVERYWHERE.
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:01 PM   #16
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Its not a good default if there were files containing state information that will cause a freshly installed application to misbehave.
Reaching just a bit there, CFB? That sure sounds like a rare, rare event to me (as CFB goes off to google to find evidence of it happening to someone, somewhere.... ). Defaults should be set to give the best results for the vast majority of cases. And ideally, allow exceptions, just as Apple has done in this case (you can choose to not copy apps). So there 'ya go - good default choice, plus options.

Quote:
Good thing the transfer for the mac transfers everything. I had to clean our mac out before we sold it and the sucker put stuff EVERYWHERE.
Geez, does OSX really spread stuff EVERYWHERE? That's a lot of places! . More so than Vista or Linux? And this is such a big problem, that no one is buying Macs, I guess, huh? They might as well just close all those stores, and give the money back to the shareholders .

At any rate, it's not really relevant to the topic - I was surprised that Vista had all these special requirements and limitation for file transfers from your old computer. Since OSX is doing this, without the limitations, and w/o any special SW or HW, it just seems odd that MS isn't doing it as well, with all their resources.

But you kinda surprised me, I thought you were going to try to deflect MS shortcomings by telling me I paid too much for my Mac .

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Old 09-20-2008, 04:44 PM   #17
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You did.
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Old 09-20-2008, 05:53 PM   #18
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What I didn't tell you is it's all on my iPod. I think if I install iTunes on my new 'puter and connect my iPod, everything will automatically download back to the new 'puter - but not sure, we'll see.
Either that or the computer will say "Hmmm... let me download my fresh new iTunes catalogue of zero files to overwrite whatever crap is clogging up this iPod."

I don't own an iPod, but Kim Komando gets at least a dozen iPod questions a week on her website & show. Browsing her iPod advice might save you some heartache, especially if there are gotchas or free utilities that'll help the process.

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You did.
Curses, made me look.
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Old 09-21-2008, 05:48 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by mahoneycutt View Post
My two cents - with that much data, you need a backup strategy.

I agree with Goonie. Installing the old hard drive in the new computer not only makes it easy to transfer the data to a new hard drive, it is also a reasonable (not perfect) backup solution for protecting your data in the future.

My addition would be one (or more) external hard drives to hold your future backups. Around $100 will get you a 500 gb drive.

Mike Honeycutt
Another thing I left out, I do have an external backup HD. I am reluctant to plug it into the new PC because a) it seems to compact/encyrpt using some unknown (to me) Western Digital format and I'm not sure how it will come back out, and b) all the "junk" is undoubtedly backed up in there too. Then I guess I'd have the same problem (b) with putting my old HD in the new PC. Still weighing the options, very much appreciate the replies/ideas...
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Old 09-21-2008, 02:12 PM   #20
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I like the network approach, just copy the files and directories over to the new PC. I don't think the iPod will copy files up -- apple caved in to the record labels. Keep the old PC up and running for awhile just in case you missed something.

Making the old HD into a ext works too, but then the old PC isn't useful. This works well when the old PC is dead.

The problem I have with the wizards is that I want my new PC to be a clean system. The wizards may copy files and system settings I don't want.
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