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File and Settings Transfer Wizard
Many people who get Windows XP, will do so by obtaining a new PC with Windows XP pre-installed. But of these, there will also be a significant number of people who will keep their old PC (and hand it down the family). But there has always been a major problem when doing this: how to transfer one’s files and settings to the new PC. This same problem is being faced by people who want to do a clean install of Windows XP over an existing OS.
Microsoft has created a new tool to assist in transferring those files and settings, called the File and Settings Transfer Wizard.
Running the File and Settings Transfer Wizard
To start the File and Settings Transfer Wizard, run Setup.exe from the Windows XP CD-ROM on your old system. This system can be running any of the following operating systems: Windows 95, 98, 98 SE, Me, NT 4.0, Windows 2000 or Windows XP. From the Setup menu choose Perform Additional Tasks. On the next screen choose Transfer files and settings.
After starting the File and Settings Transfer Wizard, you are presented with a list of ways to transfer your files to the new install:
- Direct cable. this isn’t much used these days, but some people might have cables connecting the serial ports of two computers.
- Home or small office network. If you already have a home network, this will probably be the most convenient method. Just save your data on another PC on the network, and once you have Windows XP up-and-running, import it back over the network.
- Floppy drive or other removable media. While the original floppy isn’t really a viable choice, if you’ve got a high-capacity LS-120 drive or similar, this could be an option.
- Other. This lets you save the data to any disk drive or folder on your computer. This can be a removable drive, or you could save it to a folder on the hard drive, and then burn it to a CD-ROM.
The Other selection is the easiest one (if you’re not on a network), as it will let you save the files to a location you want, and you can later decide how you are going to move the data to the new installation.
Next you must choose what you want to transfer. You can make a general choice between Settings only. Files only or Both files and settings. and you can check Let me select a custom list of files and settings. . Being the advanced users the File and Settings Transfer Wizard is presenting this option is for, we duly check this box, along with choosing the Both files and settings option.
Pressing Next will bring up a window where we can add Settings. Folders. Files and File Types. You will only get to this option if you checked the box Let me select a custom list of files and settings. in the previous screen. This option is quite powerful, but you have to know your system and its files to use it. If you store a lot of your data in custom folders, and don’t rely on Microsoft’s assumption that you just want to dump it all under My Documents (or its other default folders), you should look into using this option to add your files.
If the wizard detects any applications on your system it is familiar with, you will be presented with a list of them. This means that the wizard is able to collect your settings, but that you will have to reinstall these applications on Windows XP before running the wizard to restore the settings.
In the final stage, your files and settings will be collected and saved to the location you specified at the start of the process. This can take some time, depending on the amount of data you selected. All data is compressed, but you should realize that some files (MP3 and some graphic files for example) are not highly compressible.
When the wizard completes the data collection, all that is left is to press Finish. If you saved the data to a folder on your hard drive, this would be a good time to check its size.
OK, so now you need to get that data to your new PC. As I suggested before, if you’re on a network there won’t be much trouble. In other instances, depending of the size of your data, you should have a little more work to do burning the data to a CD-RW, or copying it to a removable drive. If push comes to shove, you could consider adding your old hard disk with the saved data as a slave drive in your new system, and later removing it and putting it back in its original location.
When you have your backup available to Windows XP, it is time to run the File and Settings Transfer Wizard again. But before you do, make sure that you have installed the applications mentioned by the wizard when you collected the data on your old PC (see above).
You can start the File and Settings Transfer Wizard in a few ways. If you have just installed Windows XP, it will be listed in the left column of your Start menu (that area is referred to as the Most Frequently Used Programs section of your Start menu). If it is not listed there, you can start it from Start All Programs Accessories System Tools File and Settings Transfer Wizard.
When asked which computer you are using, select New computer. Since you can transfer files from one Windows XP system to the next, this question does make sense.
This part of the wizard enables you to create a Wizard Disk on a floppy drive, to use in the old computer. This could be useful if the old PC doesn’t have a (working) CD-ROM drive. Since we already created our backup, just select I don’t need the Wizard Disk.
Here we need to tell the wizard where the backup files are located. Point to the device or folder where the files and settings backup files are saved.
As soon as you point the wizard to the location of your file and settings backup files, it will start applying these to your new system. Again, the length of time needed depends on the size of the files.
After the File and Settings Transfer Wizard has completed its task, it will display any recommendations, and once you press Finish. you will be prompted to log off so that your settings can be applied. After you’ve logged back on, check that all your files and settings were transferred properly.
File and Settings Transfer Wizard Update
Please note that Microsoft has released an update to the File and Settings Transfer Wizard. To read more see Microsoft Knowledge Base article 307869. You can download the update from the Windows Update Web site.
If you do this, you will need to run the File and Settings Transfer Wizard on your new system first, and let it create a Wizard Disk to use on the old computer.
Microsoft Knowledge Base Articles Relating to the File and Settings Transfer Wizard: