Whether you are moving from one version of Windows to another, transferring your files from one computer to another, or taking precautions by backing up your files, this guide will help you in doing so easily.

Notes before beginning:

  • Always use an external (removable) source as your location for backing up your personal files. CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives, and external hard drives are acceptable. A recovery partition or any location on the hard disk that has Windows installed in it may result in data loss. If the Windows operating system is corrupted or the hard disk becomes damaged, you can lose all of the personal files and settings in your backup.
  • No matter where you choose to store your backup, make sure it is secure from unauthorized access.

Transferring your files from one computer to another

The following instructions will show you how to transfer your personal files and settings to another computer.

Windows 7

  • Click Start and type Easy Transfer into the search box.
  • Select Windows Easy Transfer in the search results under Programs.
  • Follow the instruction.

When transferring files and setting to a Windows Vista machine, in the Windows Vista Installation Disk, navigate to the support folder and open the migwiz folder. Run the file called Migwiz.exe and follow the instructions.

Windows Vista

  • Run Windows Easy Transfer by using the search box in the Start menu.
  • Click Next and follow the instructions for transferring your files.

Windows XP and earlier

The Windows XP (and earlier) alternative to Windows Easy Transfer is Windows XP Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (Although you can download Windows Easy Transfer for XP at Microsoft’s Download Center). Follow these instructions to set it up.

  • Click Start à All Programs à Accessories à System à Tools.
  • Select Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.
  • Follow the instructions given carefully to ensure that you have selected everything you want to transfer to another Windows XP-based (or earlier) computer.

Windows Backup and Restore Center

Follow these instructions to back up the data on your computer for safety:

Windows 7

  • Click Start and enter backup into the search box.
  • Select Backup and Restore in the search results under Programs.
  • Click Set up backup under Back up or restore your files to begin the backup process.
  • According to your preference, make the appropriate choice and click Next.
  • When you are done, click Save Settings and run backup.

Windows Vista

  • Run Backup and Restore using the Start search bar.
  • Click Set up backup under Back up or restore your files.
  • Follow all the instructions carefully concerning where to store your backup, which disks to backup, and which file types to back up. (Click Next after each selection)
  • Click Save Settings and begin the backup.

Windows XP and earlier

Windows XP does not have Backup and Restore Utility installed. However, you can manually install it from the install disk:

  • Navigate to Valueadd à MSFT àNtbackup.
  • Run Ntbackup.msi.
  • Click Finish at the end of the installation.
  • Navigate to Start –> All programs –> Accessories –> System tools –> Backup (under All Programs menu).
  • Follow the instructions in the wizard.

If you get the following error:

“Backup Utility: The files for recovery diskette could not be created. The operation was cancelled.”

  • Click Advanced Mode when the wizard appears.
  • Click Automate System Recovery Wizard under Backup Utility.
  • Follow the instructions given by the wizard.

Copying Files manually

These steps will work for all the versions of Windows mentioned in this guide. These instructions are for manually copying your personal files from your computer onto removable media (CD, DVD, USB, etc.):

  • Navigate to Computer and double-click on the drive in which your system is installed.
  • Double-click the User folder and enter the user folder you would like to backup or copy.
  • You can copy from this location and paste into your removable media of choice. (Right-clicking your selected files and selecting Properties will tell you the size of the files you are copying)

Now that you have all your personal files and settings either backup or copied, you can transfer them to your second computer, or restore your backup files. Make sure that you have the applications that can read the files that you have copied if you are transferring files to a new computer.

This guide is for users trying to take safety measures or users intending to migrate to a new computer or Windows version.