Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Limitations Of Windows Easy Transfer | Plus And Minus Of Windows Easy Transfer

The Windows 7 Easy Transfer feature makes transferring certain kinds of settings and data files between two computers comparatively easy. It sounds great and works reasonably well, as long as you don’t expect too much. You need to be aware of the following limitations:
  • The two PCs should be connected. The instructions here are for Windows 7 PCs. The computer you’re transferring files and settings to must be running Windows 7. If at all possible, the “To” PC should be connected to the PC that you’re transferring settings from. The “From” PC can be running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7.
Easy Transfer can send a humongous amount of data from one PC to another. You can schlep a USB drive from one machine to another, if you have a few spare hours (or days). A far better method, though, is to make both PCs talk to each other on a network. Failing that, you can connect the PCs with a USB cable, use an external hard drive, or even burn and then read CDs or DVDs. Easy Transfer can work with any of them.
  • Easy Transfer can’t install your old programs on your new PC. You have to do that yourself — manually and one at a time — generally from the programs’ original CDs.
If you use Easy Transfer but you don’t install all your old programs on your new PC, weird things can happen on the new PC. You might doubleclick a file in Windows 7, for example, and have Windows say that it can’t find the program associated with the file. Outlook might have trouble displaying a file attached to a message. Nothing earth-shattering happens, mind you, but it can be annoying.
  • Easy Transfer picks up only data files, some settings, and Windows Registry entries (see the next section). That means you can’t expect it to pull across all your passwords, and some copy-protection schemes (on games, for example) might go haywire. Windows Easy Transfer doesn’t pull across some third-party Internet and e-mail data and settings: For example, you have to move Firefox bookmarks and Thunderbird messages by yourself.

Advantage In Using Windows Easy Transfer:
On the plus side, though, Windows Easy Transfer doesn’t pick up much of the garbage that seems to accumulate in every Windows PC, such as vestiges of long-forgotten programs and Registry entries that lead nowhere, which means that you can use it without gumming up your new computer. Too much.

Knowing what will transfer
Here are the items that Easy Transfer should pick up in a transfer:
  • Data files: If you’re transferring from Windows XP, expect to see files from your Windows desktop, the My Documents folder (including My Pictures and My Music, if you have those in the My Documents folder), and the Shared Desktop and Documents folders. If you’re transferring from a Vista machine or another Windows 7 machine, the folder names are different (for example, Documents rather than My Documents), but the usual suspects remain the same.
  • Windows settings: These settings include user, desktop, screen saver, and taskbar options as well as settings for Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer (including your list of Favorites), Outlook Express (from XP), Windows Mail (from Vista), and Windows Live Mail (if you have it installed). 
Note: Windows 7 doesn’t match up one-to-one with Windows XP or Vista, so the transferred settings might not have any effect, although you might see the more esoteric ones (say, the taskbar settings) if you dig deep into Windows 7.
  • All your Microsoft Office settings: This one includes many of the Registry-based settings for other programs.


About bench3 -

Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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Write comments
April 15, 2011 at 12:59 AM delete

thank you for this fantastic detailed article! gave me important info I needed.

July 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM delete

This is a very thorough article about the limitations of the so-called "Easy" Transfer Tool. There are automated programs that will transfer EVERYTHING you want to your new computer and will work with any version of windows. Read more here: http://www.transferbetweencomputers.com/2011/06/16/how-to-transfer-files-from-one-computer-to-another/