Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

Moving Data to a New System

Ok, I’m mostly back now. I got a new hard disk and have moved everything (I think) over successfully. Windows XP’s file and settings transfer wizard worked pretty well, there were just a few settings that it missed. Most notably the settings for Outlook 2003. I’d say it was 90% successful, which is a lot better than starting from scratch.

Having done this twice last night (I was also replacing one of the home systems), I’ve got a few suggestions for others who use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard:

  • First, take a good look through your system and note all the programs that you’ve got installed, then find the CDs or network pointers for them. Also make sure you’ve got any registration keys required for the software as well. The wizard does not move applications; you will need to re-install them on the new system.
  • Before you start the wizard, be sure you’re going to ask it to work as little as possible (it’s not exactly a speedy tool).
    • Move (not copy) all your pictures and music manually; JPEG files and, I think, MP3s & WMAs don’t compress so moving them manually is actually faster.
    • Clear IE’s temporary Internet files and any other application caches that you may have
    • Use the Add/Remove Programs control panel applet to get rid of any programs you don’t use any longer. Heck, go ahead and remove ones that you will be re-installing on the new computer anyway (especially games, which are normally loaded with picture and sound files), just don’t let them delete your data.
    • Look through your old system’s hard disk for other files and applications that you’re sure you don’t need any longer and remove them.
  • Run the wizard on your old computer, to save the data. If you’re not running XP yet, you can just use the Windows XP CD and the wizard there will collect as much as it can from a Windows 95/98/ME system.
  • Install XP on your new system and – here’s the important part – create & log in with the account you’re going to use. If you’re on a corporate network, this includes becoming part of the domain and logging into your domain account.
  • Install your applications.
  • Now run the wizard again, this time as the “new” computer, and point it to the saved data. Once it’s done, it’ll ask you to log out and back in at which point you should have all your files and most of your settings back.

You probably want to hang on to the old computer for a couple of days, just in case you realize something you and the wizard both missed.

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