Data transfers between Windows systems
Sep 21, 2009, 11:58 GMT
Washington - With Windows 7 just over the horizon, lots of people are going to be wondering how to transfer their files, settings, and e-mail to the new operating system.
The goal, of course, is a complete transfer with minimum hassle. The reality, often, is a bit more complicated. Read on for some solutions.
Q: I'm using Windows Vista and will be buying a new computer with Windows 7 on it as soon as I can. What's the easiest way to transfer my files? Should I buy a cable and use Windows Easy Transfer?
A: As you know, Windows Easy Transfer is a file and settings transfer wizard that comes with both Windows Vista and Windows 7. It's also available as a free download for XP users (http://tinyurl.com/2tabn5).
Both Microsoft and other vendors sell a special Easy Transfer Cable that can be used to connect and transfer files between two computers. This is a bi-directional USB cable designed especially to work with the transfer wizard. The cable can cost anywhere from 20 to 40 dollars, depending upon the source.
You don't need to buy the transfer cable in order to use Easy Transfer, however. Easy Transfer will also allow you to connect the old and new computer over a network and transfer files that way. Or you can have Easy Transfer create a transfer file on an external disk or USB drive that you can then open on the new computer.
The latter method of transfer, in fact, seems to work the best. It's not uncommon for transfers using the special cable or using a network to stall or to require an inordinate amount of time - overnight, in some cases - to complete. Having Easy Transfer create the intermediate file, by contrast, will probably get your files and settings onto the new computer in less than an hour, start to finish.
Q: Will Easy Transfer also copy my programmes and programme settings?
A: By default it will copy your favourites, desktop icons, public documents, music, pictures, videos, windows settings, and some programme settings.
In the 'Choose what to transfer' dialog box that appears in the course of the transfer, however, you can click a Customize link that will allow you to determine exactly which files will be copied. You'll need to know where your most important programmes reside, however, in order to select the folders in which they're installed.
Q: Can I simply install Windows 7 over my existing Windows installation?
A: Yes, you can use the Upgrade option during installation to upgrade an existing copy of Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 or Service Pack 2 installed.
You cannot perform such a simple upgrade of Windows XP, however. Your best option in upgrading XP will be to download and use the Easy Transfer Wizard and, with it, create a transfer file that you then open on the Windows 7 computer with the Easy Transfer Wizard.
You may wish to do a completely fresh installation of the new operating system without any automated utility, however. The reason: You're sure that way that your new operating system will be uncluttered by any unnecessary files or settings from the old operating system.
The downside is that a reinstallation of everything will take you much longer, and you may be worried about losing important files or settings along the way.
If you can install the new operating system onto a new hard drive or computer, however, you should not have too much to worry about. If you find that you're missing something on the new PC, you can always go back to the old one, not retiring the old machine or drive until you're sure everything you need is available on the new system.
Q: When I move to Windows 7, I'm going to try the 64-bit version instead of the 32-bit version. Are there any special considerations that I should be concerned about?
A: The 64-bit version of Windows 7 will run most of the applications that the 32-bit version will. You may find that you need special 64-bit drivers for some of your peripherals, but with Windows 7, Microsoft has done a better job of supplying drivers for existing hardware than with any previous version of Windows, so you may be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to transfer to a 64-bit operating system.
With the 64-bit version of Windows, you'll be able to install more than 4 gigabytes of memory (RAM), which should open up the possibility of running more applications simultaneously and of taking advantage of the growing number of 64-bit programs.
With 64-bit versions of Windows, you will find that you have two Program Files folders on your C drive. One is called Program Files and the other is called Program Files (x86). The (x86) folder is where older 32-bit applications are installed. 64-bit applications are installed in the regular Program Files folder.
Don't worry about having to choose which Program Files folder to use when you install applications. The correct choice is typically handled by the operating system, and installations should proceed normally.
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