How to Use Windows Easy Transfer to Migrate to a Windows 8 PC

If you’re settled into your old ways of moving from an old computer to a new computer by copying the My Documents and Favorites folders from your old computer to your new computer, you’ll be happy to know that there is a better way. With many people considering an upgrade to Windows 8, now is a better time than ever to talk about the handy Windows Easy Transfer utility.

In this article I am going to show you how to use the Windows Easy Transfer utility to efficiently and effectively move over all of the user accounts, Windows settings, and user data from an older computer to a new computer.

FAQs About Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer takes away the hassle of finding users documents and moving them to their new computer.  The utility replaces what used to be the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.

Who Should Use Windows Easy Transfer?

Windows Easy Transfer is made so that it’s the easiest way to transfer files from an old computer onto a new computer. Whether you’re a nontechnical computer user who is excited about getting a new PC but not excited about the prospect of transferring your data, or you’re a seasoned IT pro that is hoping to save some time, you should use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate user data from one computer to another.

Does Windows Easy Transfer Work on Windows 8?

Yes, Windows Easy Transfer is the supported and recommended method of moving data from older computers onto new computers and it works to migrate to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Does Windows Easy Transfer Replace the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard from XP?

Yes. If you’re looking for the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (FAST) for Windows 8 (or 7 or even Vista) it has been replaced with Windows Easy Transfer.

Will Windows Easy Transfer work on XP?

Yes. Windows Easy Transfer can be run on Windows XP. Windows XP is one of the operating systems from which user data can be copied. Although you can’t use XP as the target computer to which you’d copy files, it’s not too much of a worry, as that doesn’t seem a likely scenario these days anyway.

Will I Be Able to Move Installed Programs from My Old Computer with Windows Easy Transfer?

Unfortunately, no. The Windows Easy Transfer tool will move over your personalized user data but not installed programs.

Windows Easy Transfer Welcome

Should I Use the User State Migration Tool Instead of Windows Easy Transfer?

That depends on your deployment scope. The User State Migration Tool is an excellent and powerful tool that can be used during Operating System deployments to migrate user data and Windows settings. However, it’s more complex and takes more up front configuration than Windows Easy Transfer. It is recommended to use the Windows Easy Transfer if you’re only migrating user data for a few systems.

How to Transfer User Data to the New Computer with Windows Easy Transfer

On the target computer (the new computer) press the Windows Key to bring up the Start Screen or Start Menu and then type “Easy.”  Select Windows Easy Transfer from the Search Results

Windows Easy Transfer StartScreen

On the Welcome Screen, click Next

Select the method you’re going to use to connect the computers.  Your choices are either:

  • Windows Easy Connect cable: This is the easiest method, and it’s not expensive to get the best Windows Easy Connect cable.
  • Flash drive or external hard drive: This is usable as long as you have enough space on the flash or external drive.
  • Across the network: If both computers are on the same network then you may also choose this option. It may affect network performance

Choose your option to advance to the next screen.

Windows Easy Transfer Choose Method

A dialog box opens asking “Which PC are you using now?” Select this is the New PC.

Windows Easy Transfer Which Computer

On the “Do you need to install Windows Easy Transfer on the old PC?” dialog, make your selection based on the operating system you are using on the old computer.

Windows Easy Transfer Install On Old Computer

How to Install Windows Easy Transfer on Windows XP

If you need to install Windows Easy Transfer on XP or Vista then you must get the setup file to the old computer.

Your choices to do this are:

  • USB Flash drive or external drive
  • Network share

If your new computer is Windows 8, then you can use PowerShell 3 to create a network share to hold the Windows Easy Transfer setup file.

Note: You cannot use the Windows Easy Connect cable to transfer the application directly to the old computer to use.

Windows Easy Transfer Install

Now, make your selection for where to save the Setup file.

Windows Easy Transfer Copying

After the files are finished copying, there is a new folder inside the folder you chose and a Windows Easy Transfer file. Note: Leave Windows Easy Transfer running on the new computer while you get the files ready on the old computer.

How to Save the Files on the Old Computer

On the old computer, browse to the folders that contains the Windows Easy Transfer setup files that you just created on the new computer.

Run the “Windows Easy Transfer” shortcut to start the program.

Windows Easy Transfer Starting

At this point many of the screens will look familiar.

  • Click Next on Welcome to Windows Easy Transfer screen.
  • Choose the method to transfer the data (cable, network, or USB).
  • Select This is my OLD PC.

At this time, Windows Easy Transfer begins scanning public folders and user profiles for data that can be migrated to the new PC. After the scanning is complete, estimates for how much space is required on the network or USB drive is calculated.

If there are multiple user profiles or accounts on the old computer, you don’t have to transfer them all. Deselect any users that you do not wish to transfer. And if you find your computer profile has more room than fits on your jump drive, then it’s time to either move to larger storage, use the network, or spring for a transfer cable. After making your selections, click “Next”.

Next, enter a password for the files. This is always a good idea to do, as the files that are stored in the Windows Easy Transfer file that will be created would otherwise be able to be restored to another system if the file got into the wrong hands.

Enter a save location for the MIG file. After the data has been backed up to the file, Windows Easy Transfer is completed on the old computer. Click Next. Click Next. Click Close.

How to Import a File on a New Computer

If using a jump drive or external hard drive, move the drive back to the new computer. It’s very likely that you have huge files to import and that it took quite a long time to save all of the data.

If the new computer is still running Windows Easy Transfer, you’re ready to continue right where we left off.  Click Next on the screen that was still open on the new computer.

If that window was inadvertently closed, you only need to find and double-click the .MIG file that was backed up on the computer to start Windows Easy Transfer and begin the import.

Next, provide the password you entered. Then customize which files get imported, if desired.

Click Transfer.

After the data is imported, you can see a report of what was transferred, or you can view a report of applications that were on your old computer but were not found on your new computer.

When done viewing the reports, click Close.

Congratulations, you’ve just made your customer very happy! Mapped drives, desktop icons, favorites, email, documents, and Windows settings such as wallpaper are set up for your customer exactly as they were on the old computer.

Granted, there are manual ways of moving most profile data over from an old computer to a new one. This is usually a waste of time for the person doing it, and it can be frustrating when some files are missed.

Instead of looking for, and then copying and restoring, all of the user data, next time try Windows Easy Transfer. It scans user accounts and data on a computer running XP, Vista, 7, or 8 and can save all of the user data in a file that is easily imported.

When used with a Windows Easy Connect cable, the files are moved over directly through the cable from one computer to another.