Windows Vista Tip: How To Transfer Files, Program Settings And Applications From Old Computer


vista.jpgIf you purchased a new Computer with Windows Vista installed, one of the steps you will experience is moving your data files from the old Computer to the new one. A more tedious step is copying your user settings and program configurations to the new Computer.

Fortunantly Vista provides a tool called Windows Easy Transfer, that will migrate data and program settings from your previous Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 SP4 Computer. A second tool called Windows Easy Transfer Companion will transfer some applications from XP to Vista.

Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer is installed with Vista and can be found under Accessories – System Tools or by searching for "easy" (with out quotes).

You can transfer files and settings using a network share, or transfer files and settings using removable media such as CD/DVD, or an external hard drive. Windows Easy Transfer does not migrate installed applications (see Windows Easy Companion below)

Using Windows Easy Transfer, you can migrate most files and program settings. Below is a table describing the types of data and settings that can be moved.

Data Type
Files and Folders Any files found in My Documents, My Pictures, and Shared Documents folder will be selected to be moved automatically. You can also add other documents that are in other locations.
E-mail messages and Settings E-mail messages, contacts, account settings, and address books from Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail, and other programs.
Program Settings Programs that are compatible with Vista will have their settings transferred to the new Computer. In order for this to work the program must already be installed on the Computer running Vista.
User Settings Desktop settings, color settings, screen savers, fonts, Windows options, printers, etc.
Internet Settings Favorites, cookies, and Internet Explorer settings.
Pictures, Video, and Music Music files, playlists, and album. Pictures (gif, jpg, bmp files) and personal videos.

The following operating systems are supported:

  • Windows 2000 SP4 to Windows Vista (Data Transfers Only)
  • Windows XP SP2 to Windows Vista
  • Windows Vista to Windows Vista

Windows Easy Transfer supports transfers via any one of the following methods:

  • USB Easy Transfer Cable (Windows 2000 is not supported)
  • Network connection
  • Removable media (such as a USB flash drive or external hard disk)
  • CD or DVD

(See the following article for step-by-step instructions Migrating to Vista using Windows Easy Transfer.)

Windows Easy Transfer Companion (Beta)

WETC is a program that can help transfer installed programs from a computer running Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (SP2) to a computer running Windows Vista. WETC does not replace Windows Easy Transfer. Instead, it is an independent program that complements Windows Easy Transfer. You can use WETC to transfer many kinds of programs between two computers that are connected by an Easy Transfer Cable or by a network connection.

WETC does not transfer files, settings, or user profiles (use Windows Easy Transfer). The list of applications WETC can transfer and more inforamtion can be found at Microsoft Support site.

The following kinds of programs cannot be transfered:

  • Programs that do not use an installation program. For example, WETC does not detect some plug-in programs. Therefore, these plug-in programs do not appear in the program selection list.
  • Antivirus programs and operating system monitoring programs. These kinds of programs appear under Will Not Transfer in the program selection list.
  • Programs that are already installed on the destination computer. These programs appear under Will Not Transfer in the program selection list.
  • Operating system components.

EDITED: Microsoft has scrapped Windows Easy Transfer Companion and is no longer making the software available.

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Comments on Windows Vista Tip: How To Transfer Files, Program Settings And Applications From Old Computer Leave a Comment

February 4, 2008

Mr. Schuh @ 3:37 pm #

I am unable to transfer documents from windows vista to an older windows program.
How am I to do this? I want to bring a powerpoint from vista to a windows 2003.

May 18, 2008

James Worthington @ 6:48 pm #

Thanks for your website.
How do I transfer Windows 95 files/programs to Windows Vista (or maybe XP)?
The 95 has a 3×5 disk drive and all material is backed up on it.

May 19, 2008
May 28, 2008

Dick Spurgeon @ 1:27 am #

How to transfer from a Win 2000/SP4 box to a Vista Box? Where is the WET (windows easy transfer) program/download available? Best way?

May 29, 2008

Dick Spurgeon @ 10:30 pm #

Thanks I have been to that web site before. I need to get the WET program onto the Old 2000 box so I can follow the instructions.

July 11, 2008

john @ 12:06 pm #

You might want to take the old 3.5 floppy drive out of the old computer and put it in the new one.

December 20, 2008

ICEMAN 3:15 @ 11:59 pm #

How do i transfer installed programs & settings from vista to xp?

December 21, 2008
June 2, 2009

Mike McClellan @ 3:46 pm #

I am trying to use the Windows Easy Transfer from Vista to transfer program settings, etc from an XP machine to a Vista machine. I made the cd to take to the XP machine and when I run it, it blue screens. I tried copying the files to the XP's hard drive rather than running them from the cd, but with no difference. Three times I have started it and had it blue screen on me. What am I doing wrong?

March 22, 2010

Greg Forbes @ 8:33 am #

I've got all my files from my windows vista laptop backed up on an external HDD. My laptop then crashed, so I reinstalled windows and it's working fine, but now I'm trying to get my files back onto my laptop, and certain folders simply do not copy. No warning or error message is shown, it just doesn't copy. Can you please tell me how to fix this and / or what I'm doing wrong

December 15, 2010

Deb @ 3:40 pm #

How do I transfer files from my windows vista pc to my windows xp laptop?

Deb @ 3:41 pm #

@Deb: using a jump drive?

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