Transfer Files and Settings from XP to Windows 7

Migrating a user account from one computer to another used to be a pain.  If you have programs with settings stored in your Windows user profile, you can’t just copy the user folder from one computer to another – sure you can copy the pictures and videos but what about the program settings, Internet favorites and saved username/passwords?

With Windows 7, you can move a computer accounts profile including documents, music, pictures, e-mail, and more importantly, program settings like Windows Live account configuration.


To access the tool, open the list of programs under Accessories > System Tools > Windows Easy Transfer:


The wizard driven tool will open.  First choose the type of medium where you want to temporarily save the image file.  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.

Both computers must support the transfer method you choose. For example, if you write the data to CD or DVD, the destination computer must also have a CD or DVD drive. If you choose to transfer the data across the network, both computers must be connected on the same network.


The tool also supports Easy Transfer Cable which is a special USB jumper cable that could connect two computers together:


Choose which users you want to export from your old computer.  You may choose specific types of files and folders.  Windows Easy Transfer does not migrate installed applications.


Follow the wizard and you will generate the easy transfer image file.  This is a single file packed with all of the documents and settings from your chosen user accounts.


On your new Windows 7 computer, double click this file to start the import process.  It will open the Easy Transfer wizard with steps that will guide you to import the contents of the file.  Once you imported the file, the old accounts files will be available on your current user account.

If you are using Windows XP and you want to migrate to Windows 7, you may create an easy transfer file using this version of Windows Easy Transfer:

If you are running Vista, this software is already built into Windows Vista, so it is not necessary to install it on a Windows Vista-based PC.

Ben Carigtan shows you how it’s done!

Comments [16]

  1. OK – if your old computer works – but mine died and I just have a good HD containing all the stuff – how do I get all this to the new one? – there is only one computer – but the HD from the dead one (which ran XP) can plu into the USB on the new one.

  2. @Steven Berg
    You can try and detach the HD from the computer and put it in another computer

  3. Same issue as I understand Steven's.

    I have a backup of a user profile created with Win XP on an external USB drive. ANd I don't have any PC running Win XP around.

    Win Seven doesn't reckognize the file as a backup of a user account.

    Is there a way to go around this (except finding a PC running Win XP and installing Windows Easy Transfer)?


  4. It is absolutly ridiculous that they dont just let you use files and transfer wizard files from xp or vista!!! Surely the first thing you would think of when creating backup and restore software is backwards compatability!!!! STUPID!!! REALLY STUPID!!!!

  5. I wish there was an easy way to upgrade from XP to Win 7! Why does Microsoft always make everything a pain! Millions of people have XP and now have to do clean installs and transfer files!

  6. Tried Windows 7….did not find any improvement over XP. So I reverted back to XP and just upgraded XP to look like Windows 7, have Aero, snapping windows, etc. in XP. I love the freedom XP has, and unfortunately is lacking in Vista and Windows 7. I believe that Microsoft was afraid that since people who don't understand the workings of Windows mess up the OS….

    they wanted to be able to say that well, now Windows is as stable as Apple. It's too bad…because Windows 7 is not as elegant as the Apple OS. And the only reason I don't use Apple is because I want to be able to change any files I want on my computer. So Windows Vista/7 is like Apple with a UAC gorilla on your back.

  7. I'm going to have a go. I've been wanting to transfer my music and pictures to my laptop for ages.

    However my desktop PC is very slow. It takes ages just to even load up the Start menu. Will this effect transferring the files with the jump lead?

    My laptop is new, by the way. Can I just connect the cable in my laptop and desktop, and choose which files I want to transfer to my laptop on my laptop, as my laptop is way faster then my computer?

  8. One of the favorite quotes of an MCSE instructor I studied under while I was at Chubb is that "L User's are Losers". An "L User" for those who don't know is a limited user. That's what Microsoft has created with Vista and more with Windows 7. Even logged in with an administrator account the OS defaults the to limited user. Another quote from that instructor was in the form of a question "How can I be an administrator if I can't do anything I want with any file, process or server that I want on a computer?"

    Microsoft has indeed attempted to make their OS a cheap clone of the Apple OS, and I avoid Mac for the same reason @zeniorito does. Lack of control. The whole point of "computer" is that it is flexible and fluid and can do anything from music to math to graphics to video to writing and so much more – by locking it down it just becomes another fixed purpose device. I want to import my programs and files – the whole program, in fully functioning order with everything running without having to dig up a bunch of old disks I may not be able to find JUST the way I did when I ported files, settings and programs from 98 to 2000 Professional, and later from 2000 Professional to XP. Microsoft's slogan should be "You Can't Do That" – proving once again that the real administrator of your computer isn't you, but them.

  9. So, what do you use with easy transfer USB cable to migrate programs? I have a case with a dying XP home HP containing Quicken, phone answer software, and a few other odd bits. It lost full function of memory socket 4, and occasionally reports memory error on socket 3. They bought a new emachine win7 64 and a USB cable. I would like to get it all in one visit and not have to carry it all in and mess around with killing their quicken.

    Is there no program migration scheme?

  10. You may consider using WET (Windows Easy Transfer) and PickMeApp, which are two free solutions to migrate from XP to Windows 7. WET may transfer your XP settings to Win 7, while the portable PickMeApp tool may transfer programs from XP to Windows 7. PickMeApp claims to support an unlimited number of programs.

  11. CrowdedCranium,

    You might want to look at VM'ing that old PC as Easy Transfer does not move programs and you may find it very hard to get your old phone answering software running on Windows7 x64.

    You can get the free VM imaging tool at You'll also want to download the free VMware Player to run on your new Emachine box.

    We've done this at work for our programming crew who moved up from XP based systems (all 32-bit) to much faster 64-bit hardware running 8 or 12 GB of RAM. We created a VM of their existing development environment and ran it on their new boxes. Everything was the same, and the whole process took about 4 hours per system (3 to create the VM image, and an additional hour to transfer the VM to the new system and configure it).

    Another benefit of running a VM is you can allocate more CPU and memory to the VM than the original system had. Most of our developers were on single core CPUs with anywhere from 512MB to 1GB of RAM. With the VM image now running on superior hardware, we were able to increase both the number of CPU cores and RAM to max what the OS can run.

  12. I'm having to do this for my mother's new Windows 7 PC. I'll check out pickmeapp as that's the main thing I need.

    I don't understand the comments about lack of control regarding Apple OS? You get as much control as you want. These comments were clearly not based on any fact.

    Fortunately, I left Windows behind 3 years ago. Transferring to a new Mac machine is easy, and if I need to run Windows, I simply launch Parallels on my Mac and run Windows along side. Fortunately, the times I need to do that these days are few and far between.

  13. Once you've transferred a user account and other things, are they still available on the old computer?

  14. This is bollucks. basically all i wanted was to transfer EVERYTHING but remotely. I have dual booted windows XP/7 thinking i could use all the programs already installed on WindowsXP and another hard drive but it is not the case… this means i am going to have to backup everything in order to use Windows 7 again. :( sad times

  15. I just transferred my settings and data (using Windows Easy Transfer) from my old desktop (Windows XP) to my new desktop (Windows 7)and now I cannot open Microsoft Outlook. I have Office Professional 2007 on the new computer and Office 2003 on the old computer. Any ideas on how to fix my problem?

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