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How do I transfer files, etc, to a new computer?

What is the best way to transfer programs, files, web favorites, e-mail addresses and text to a new computer. I will be transferring from a Windows XP 32-bit computer to a Windows 7 64-bit computer. I am worried, among other things, about adversely affecting the registry in the new computer. Also, I am not very computer savvy, so I need a program/process that is easy to understand. Thanks for your advice.

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There are many options

The easiest for me was to group a copy of all the files together on the older computer, then copy them to a memory stick. You could also copy the files to a CD, or an external hard drive, or if you have a home network with a router, connect the two computers to the network and simply copy the files across.

Windows 7 has it's "Windows Easy Transfer" wizard which should help a lot. Here's some guidance on that;

One thing to note. You will not be able to transfer programs to the new computer. Programs, applications and software does not transfer like that and you will have to 'install' these programs from the original source setup files, whether CDs, or downloaded Setup files, and so on.

Finally, none of this affects the Windows 7 registry, and it is best you do not even think about registry cleaners or optimisers, and leave the registry to look after itself.

I hope that helps.


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Thank you for this helpful information. Are you familiar with Belkin's Easy Transfer Cable For Windows 7? User reviews on Amazon make it sound like just the thing for this job. Then I found other more expensive software options like LaplinkPC Mover Professional and Zinstall XP7. Are you familiar with any of these three?

I could go the memory stick way or the home router way, but I'm not sure exactly how to do that. I haven't checked out the Windows transfer wizard yet. Is that something that my new Windows 7 computer will have? Will it give me the hand-holding that I need?

Thank you again.

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Re: Windows easy transfer

The link that Mark provided should answer most of your questions about Windows Easy Transfer. That would do even better than me or Mark answering these 2 question, I think.

About a memory stick: that's comparable to a "diskette" you probably used 20 years ago. Put it in, write files to it, get it out, put in in another PC, copy the files off to their new location. That's rather easy to understand, basically.
While a diskette could contain 720 kB or 1.44 MB, a memory stick goes up to 8 GB. It's a very useful gadget to have, for example to take the pictures from your digital camera to friends and family to show, or to transfer big files between home and work. I couldn't do without it any more.

The most difficult part of doing it without any additional software, not even the free Microsoft wizard: deciding which files to copy (your own data) and which not.

One other thing: it makes a lot of sense to BACKUP your data. That is, make a copy of it (preferably 2) and store that on a safe place, just in case you computer breaks down and the info on it can't be retrieved any more. You wouldn't want to lose you pics and documents, wouldn't you, that you collected over the years?
For people who have good backups, the answer the question in your first post is: just copy from your backup and you've got everything!

To be more specific about the things you mentioned:
1. programs: can't be transferred, should be reinstalled, as Mark already said
2. files: can be copied as described above
3. web favorites: can exported to a file (then see #2) and imported again. In Internet Explorer that's File>Export and File>Import respectively.
4. e-mail addresses: that might be a problem. If you use Outlook Express, that doesn't exist any more in Windows 7. So you'll have to find a new e-mail program, and that won't use the same address book as Outlook Express. If not too many addresses, just retyping into your new mail program might be the easiest for you. But that doesn't solve transferring your mail archive. Come back for more advice once you decided between Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. My advice between these 3 would be to use Thunderbird.
5. text: like files?


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Reply to Kees

Thank you for this helpful response.

Would the Belkin transfer cable that I mentioned be useful, or should I just use the memory stick approach that you described?

Regarding the web favorites, how can I move them using Firefox?

I use yahoo mail. Any idea how to move those e-mails and e-mail contacts? I am not familiar with Thunderbird and don't have any experience with Windows Live Mail or Microsoft Outlook.

Thank you very much

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Re: your questions

Bookmarks in Firefox are fully automatically stored every day. Just copy the file and import from the Bookmarks-menu. Mine for today is called:
C:\Documents and Settings\Kees\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\s6bt611n.default\bookmarkbackups\bookmarks-2010-11-05.json
With you, some folder-names will be different.

With yahoo mail, the most probable option is that everything (mails and contacts) are safely stored on yahoo servers. Just logon on your new machine and have a look. Unless, of course, you had a yahoo+ acocunt and used Outlook Express to read and write mails. But that's less common and you should know about it.

I don't have any experience with the Belkin cable and the software that comes with it. Nor, in fact, with the Easy Transfer wizard. I didn't yet figure out how to go from my XP machine to a new Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine when the time has come. But I think I'll just use my home network and Windows Explorer.
If you don't feel happy with the info in the link Mark provided, just buy that cable.


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Thanks so much. Guess I'm about ready to give it a shot, if I can make my old XP computer "talk" to the new Windows 7 one. Where do I find the Firefox bookmark file?

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Re: firefox bookmarks file

If you can't find the existing one, the bookmarks menu should let you make a new one.

Let me say yours, most likely, is in the
C:\Documents and Settings\<your user anme>\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<your random profile code>.default\bookmarkbackups folder.
Just go searching.


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Another way

Another way is to "Export" Firefox's Bookmarks file.

In Firefox go to Bookmarks, then Organise Bookmarks, then Import & Backup. Select the Export to HTML and follow the guide. If you backup/export the html file to your Desktop it is easier to find and copy.


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Thanks Mark and Kees. I exported the bookmarks to the desktop. When I opened that, I saw a list of all the bookmarks with a detailed description of each. What do I do next? Can I pick and choose the bookmarks to move to the new computer?


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Re: bookmarks

You copy the whole file to the new computer use the same menu options as you to make (export) it. Now, however, choose import! Firefox will read that file and use it to make all your bookmarks available there.

Doesn't it feel good to know how to do this? Now you can do the export once a week or once a month or so and save that file on a safe place (a USB-stick for example). If anything would ever happen with that PC you would still have them ready to be used at still another one. That's called 'backup'? Makes one feel safe to know they won't be lost.


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Thanks again Kees and Mark. You both have been very helpful. I should get the new computer later this week. Then the fun will begin. I'll find out if I was a good student. Thanks! Larry

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Good luck

You're in for an interesting and fascinating time.

And did I mention frustrating? Hmm, no, I don't believe I did, Devil

I hope everything works well with you. Windows 7 is quite different from XP but I like it a lot, and everything went smoothly for me.


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XP to W7 New PC

ou ahould have exported bookmarks to the Thumbdrive/jumpdrive. Borrow an external hardrive and use Windows Easy Media transfer.....all bookmarks/files/photos/data are copied over...I tried it when I upgraded from XP>W7 it works great and is FREE.

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Another way...

If you use an internet backup service like Carbonite to back up your files (including your bookmarks and email), you can simply install the new computer with Windows 7, and move your Carbonite subscription there.

Then you can restore all that stuff on your new computer. If you don't have off-site backup, you should be thinking about that anyways. What if your house burns down, or a burglary, or even a disk failure happens and your onsite backup doesn't work, then you've lost those photos, videos, and email forever.

So off-site backup is useful for a lot of reasons. This is also about the easiest way to move your files, etc. to a new computer.

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