Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Easy Transfer works as advertised - but not intuitive

If you buy a new computer with Vista (or Windows 7) on it and dread the task of moving all the stuff from the old PC to the new one, there's some good news. Microsoft makes available a program you can download called Easy Transfer (which is already installed in Vista) that will help with the process.

Easy Transfer can use a network connection, special cable, CD/DVD or other external media to copy everything over. It does not transfer any installed programs (nor should it), but it does offer to transfer program settings. I chose to use an external hard drive to copy everything over and it did a decent job. The desktop wallpaper magically appeared on the new system, IE's favourites were copied over and all the assorted directories containing files were copied as well. It did not transfer Mozilla Thunderbird or Firefox's profiles over (surprise surprise), but transferring those manually is not too difficult.

The only problem I had with it was lack of intuitive interface. You have to use their explicit process and that process isn't defined in the program, you have to search for it online. Other options aren't defined in the program either. I ended up installing a downloaded copy of Easy Transfer on the XP machine, but I could just as easily have run Easy Transfer on the new computer and copied the wizard over to the old one. Also, once I got the saved data onto the new computer, I had to figure out how to continue the process. Turns out you just right click the data file and Windows offers to open it with Easy Transfer. Then it continues to completion.

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