With the launch of Windows 7, many people will soon either upgrade their computer’s operating system or purchase a new P.C. Either way, you need to save your existing data. This can be an arduous task. Rounding up documents, pictures and music, backing up e-mail messages and account settings and making a list of the applications that need to be reinstalled can be intimidating and time consuming. However, a Windows 7 utility called Windows Easy Transfer makes the process much easier.
Windows Easy Transfer has been around since Windows XP. Unfortunately, earlier iterations of this product have been cumbersome and notoriously unreliable. With the release of Windows 7, Microsoft made it easier and far more efficient. With a minimal amount of effort, you can back up all of the data on your computer, including system settings, such as e-mail configurations and Internet Favorites, which you can transfer back to the PC in a few easy steps.
Some people have purchased the Windows 7 Upgrade they can simply upgrade their existing OS with all of their applications and data in place. For many, this is true. For others, Microsoft’s draconian upgrade requirements make this option unlikely.
Windows 7 Upgrade Issues
The Windows 7 Upgrade works under certain conditions. For instance, if you upgrade from Windows Vista Home Premium, 32-bit, to Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit, you shouldn’t have any problems. However, if you want upgrade to the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Professional instead, you’re out of luck. According to the Windows Upgrade Advisor, the 32-bit version of Home Premium can only be upgraded to the 32-bit version of Home premium or the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.
Also you can’t perform an upgrade from any 32-bit version to any 64-bit version. In those circumstances you would have no choice but to perform a custom installation that requires you to wipe out your old Windows configuration. Check this complete chart outlining the upgrade path for Windows 7. Bottom line: a simple upgrade isn’t possible for everyone.
For example, I run Windows Vista Enterprise, 32-bit on my laptop, and I wanted to upgrade it to Windows 7 Home Premium, 32-bit. I originally planned to upgrade my OS, but I needed to perform a clean install. Windows Easy Transfer utility let me backup all of my data and system settings quite easily.
I installed Windows 7 after the backup, completed all of the security updates and verified all of the drivers were working. Then using Windows Easy Transfer, I restored my data to the laptop. All of my documents and pictures were back in their respective folders, my desktop folders had been restored and even my bookmarks were available.
Windows Easy Transfer also generated a detailed report on which files had been restored. It did this for each user account and even showed a list of applications that had been previously installed on my old system. When applicable, it provided a link to download that application. I expected this would work with common apps like Adobe Acrobat Reader and Realplayer, but it even showed me where to download the client software for my HAVA Titanium HD Wi-Fi TV streaming hardware.
The most impressive thing about this process: after I reinstalled Microsoft Office 2007 and launched Outlook, I found all of my mail in place and ready to use. All of my custom folders and each of my five e-mail accounts were fully functional. I didn’t have to import a PST or hunt down any mail servers or usernames and passwords. It simply worked.
Windows Easy Transfer it does have some limitations. It will only work when transferring data from a 32-bit OS to another 32-bit OS or from a 64-bit OS to another 64-bit OS. It doesn’t matter which version of Windows you use (XP, Vista, Win7, Home, Professional or Ultimate), but it has to be the same bit version. In addition, it doesn’t transfer the license for any Digital Rights Management (DRM) content that you have. This isn’t so much a problem with Windows Easy Transfer as much as it is with DRM in general, but it is something you should be prepared for.