XP to Vista: How to transfer your data

From XP to Vista

One of the dreaded tasks of getting a new PC or laptop is updating the shiny new machine with existing contacts, pictures, and files from that old and aging PC running Windows XP. In this quick guide we'll show you how to transfer those files in a snap and prepare your old XP machine for the farm.

If you've purchased a new PC lately then it's more than likely it'll be pre-installed with the relatively new Microsoft Vista operating system. While the new operating system will take a little bit to get used to, users of Windows XP can transfer existing pictures, music, video, business files, email messages and contacts, and internet settings from your older machine to Vista with relative ease.

Unfortunately, applications, fonts and drivers can't be transferred automatically from Windows XP to Vista. Your favourite office suite, games, or accounting software will have to be manually re-installed and probably upgraded to work on the Vista platform. Before forking out any more cash on software applications, check in with the software vendors of your favourite applications as an upgrade may be available for free or a small cost. Enterprise users or power users who really want to keep application settings and need to transfer many desktops at once from XP to Vista are better to investigate the use of Microsoft's User State Migration Tool (USMT).

That aside, there are two options available for regular users to transfer settings; one manual and the other automated. We'll cover both in this article.

The automated way with Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer is a program included for free in Windows Vista which automates the process of moving files from Windows XP to your new computer. While we'll focus on Windows XP in this article it also works for Windows 2000 and transferring files from one Vista computer to another Vista computer.

At this point we should note that Windows Easy Transfer shouldn't be mixed up with the "Files and Settings Wizard" which originally shipped with Windows XP. This program worked in the past to upgrade from older operating systems such as Windows 98 to XP but shouldn't be used to upgrade to Vista. Windows Easy Transfer is the upgraded version of the "Files and Settings Wizard".

Before starting you'll need to decide how to migrate your information. Windows Easy Transfer supports the following methods:

  • A USB flash drive or external hard disk. This is probably the best option as you should already have one for regular backups. Make sure you have enough spare space before attempting to move your data.
  • A networked connection. This is a good option if you have a home network set up via a router already.
  • A CD or DVD. This is supported but might be a clumsy option if you have a lot of data.
  • A USB cable that can connect two computers. Companies like Belkin sell these for around AU$45.

After you've decided which option is best for you it's time to jump on your new Windows Vista machine. Before starting this process it's best to close all active programs on both machines. On the Vista machine, click the Start icon on the bottom left corner > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Windows Easy Transfer.

This will open up a new screen where you will be prompted with the following screen:

Click Start new transfer. On the next prompt click "This is my new computer". From there follow the prompts according to which method you have chosen from the list above. Unless you're using a USB crossover cable, the process will involve setting up the Windows Easy Transfer program (file name Migwhiz) on Windows XP, selecting the settings and files to migrate and following the correct prompts. Overall there are too many steps to include in this one article for all of the different options, but a step-by-step guide can be found here.

For the manual way to transfer your data, click on to page two.

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roguespeare posted a comment   

Bought a iMac last week. Returned it this week. Wireless mouse had to be reset at Apple store. Outlook, Palm Pilot, Tax files, etc. would not data transfer. I would have spent days to update. Navigation was tedious. Internet speed was S L O W. Don't know about Vista (I have XP) but at least for me the iMac is worthless.


jayson posted a comment   

I had a mac, it was stolen. Decided to buy a pc with vista, because I had a fair experience with xp. Trying to put all my xp data to vista is a living nightmare. Went to the Apple Store the next day. GET A MAC!


Ubuntu. posted a comment   

Macintosh is far too restrictive, and Vista is useless. Choose door number three.


Demps posted a comment   

I was told when I ordering my dell just about two months ago that I could get XP put on it by this tech gal. I didn't order the laptop for a couple days later and this guy then tells me no way, they don't do that I can only get the Vista. I didn't think it could be that bad, even though my brother said he wasn't real happy with his Vista. That's a frigging understatement. Vista stinks. I have had nothing but problems. There are some nice things they added that you can do now, but why change the entire configuration, just leave XP alone and add those additional cool add-ons. Instead of making you a dang computer-sciencewhatjumacallit.


John Ralph posted a comment   

I agree - Vista is terrible - I took my Dell back to get XP installed - best decision I made otherwise get a Mac. The mac will be my next upgrade given the feedback on Windoze 7.


binjuin90 posted a comment   

how to upgrade windows xp sp3 to vista home edition


terry posted a comment   

Outlook contacts file cannot be directly transfered to Vista home basic mail.
You need to export them from Outlook then import to Express on the XP machine. Then save the file to a external drive. You will then be able to import to Vista mail.


Jason posted a comment   

Shouldn't this article be titled "How to move your data from Vista to XP"?! I lasted two weeks with Vista and then bought a Mac. If you're reading this and are undecided, jump ship now. There's no reason not too. Escape before it's too late!!!! Arrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhh! :)

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