When you buy a new computer, the excitement can sometimes turn to frustration when your files, data and settings aren’t in the same places they used to be, and you have trouble finding them.
Transferring everything from your old PC to your new one can be a bore, but if you have a home network, you can use the free Windows Easy Transfer tool to make the job much simpler. You can either move everything using your network, or transfer it via an external drive. In each case the steps are similar.
1. Prepare your new PC
Windows Easy Transfer can't move programs for you and it can only migrate settings to programs already installed on your new PC. That means key programs need to be installed on your new computer before you start transferring files: bear in mind that some may not be compatible with the new version of Windows and may require updating or replacing.
2. Move to the old PC
Next, you need to launch Windows Easy Transfer on your old PC. If it’s running Windows 7 or 8, it will already be installed; if it’s running Vista or Windows XP, you’ll need to download and install the most recent version. Once installed, click Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Windows Easy Transfer.
3. Choose network transfer
Click ‘Next’ to continue the wizard on your old PC. You have three options: the simplest – assuming both computers are connected to the same network – is to select ‘A network’. To speed up the transfer process, make sure both PCs are connected, using cables, to your router or network hub.
4. Pair the computers
Choose ‘This is my old computer’ to set up network transferring from this PC. Windows Easy Transfer will generate a unique key code, which identifies this computer on the network. Make a note of the code and click ‘Next’. Leave the computer running while it waits for your new PC to connect to it.
5. Connect your new PC
On the new computer, go to desktop mode and move the mouse pointer to the bottom right corner. Choose the search icon and type ‘Windows Easy Transfer’ into the search. Click the icon from the search results to start the wizard. Click ‘Next’ and choose ‘A network’ again as the transfer method.
6. Enter transfer key
Choose ‘This is my new computer’. As you’ve already installed and launched Windows Easy Transfer on your old PC, select ‘I’ve already installed it on my old PC’, or choose the Windows 7 or Windows 8 option. Make sure you have the key code you noted in step 4 to hand, then click ‘Next’.
7. Begin the transfer
Enter your Windows Easy Transfer key code and click ‘Next’. Your two computers will find each other and begin communicating. Your new computer will scan the old one to find out what can be transported. When complete, you'll see a list of accounts that can be transferred. Use the check boxes to select which ones you want.
8. Advanced options
Click the ‘Customize’ link if you want to select specific files and folders. Select the individual items that you want to import or click ‘Advanced’ to see a more detailed breakdown. Choose ‘Advanced Options’ to modify how each account is imported.
9. Map user accounts
If you already have an account set up on your new computer, you can map your old account to it. Use the dropdown list to select the new account you want to apply the settings to. Otherwise the old account will be set up as an additional account on your new PC.
10. Map drives
Select the ‘Map Drives’ tab if you have multiple drives on your new computer and you want to change the drive letter that the imported data is moved to. Select it from the dropdown list. This is useful if you want to move data to different drives on your new PC.
When you’re happy with your options click ‘Save’, followed by ‘Transfer’, to begin copying data from your old computer to your new one. You’ll see the progress for each account. When complete, you can check what was transferred, by viewing the full report, or just click ‘Close’ to move on.
12. Assisted Transfer
If transferring data and accounts really isn't your cup of tea, you can get professional help. The Knowhow Data Transfer and Check is carried out by qualified professionals: they’ll transfer all your files, photos, settings and other data, and check your new computer once they've finished to ensure it's all safely in place.