So, you made sure your computer's hardware and software is ready for Windows 7. (Read my "Getting Ready for Windows 7 with Microsoft Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor" article). Now you wish to install Windows 7 on it.
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Basically, there are 2 approaches to installing Windows 7:
- Upgrade (In-place upgrade) - This option replaces your current version of Windows with Windows 7, and keeps your files, settings, and programs in place on your computer.
- Custom ("fresh" installation) - This option replaces your current version of Windows with Windows 7, but doesn't preserve your files, settings, and programs. It's sometimes referred to as a clean installation for that reason.
As always, a fresh installation is much better and I strongly recommend taking that track. Even if you've got an existing Windows XP/Vista OS on your computer, I would strongly recommend that you format it and install a fresh copy of the OS. Read my "Installing Windows 7" article.
Note: Either way, you cannot use an existing 32-bit version of a previous OS to perform an in-place upgrade to a 64-bit version of Windows 7, and you'll need to format and install a fresh copy. Also, you cannot use an existing 64-bit version of a previous OS to perform an in-place upgrade to a 32-bit version of Windows 7.
You can transfer files and settings using a network, USB Easy Transfer Cable, removable media, or an external hard drive.
Note: Windows Easy Transfer does not migrate installed programs. To use programs on the new computer you will need to properly install these programs on the new computer.
Both computers must support the transfer method you choose. For example, if you choose to transfer the data across a network, both computers must be connected on the same network.
Get all versions here:
Download: Windows Easy Transfer for transferring from Windows Vista (32 bit) to Windows 7
Download: Windows Easy Transfer for transferring from Windows Vista (64 bit) to Windows 7
Download: Windows Easy Transfer for transferring from Windows XP (32 bit) to Windows 7
Download: Windows Easy Transfer for transferring from Windows XP (64 bit) to Windows 7
In this example I've used Windows XP Pro SP3 32-bit version. Download the version that is right for your needs. Next, double-click the installation file to get it running.
First open and run Windows Easy Transfer on your computer running Windows XP.
Click "Next". You will be prompted to select the destination location of the transferred files. Make sure you choose an option that works on both computers. For example, if your old computer isn't connected to your network, you can't use that method to transfer files and settings to your new computer. The number of files you plan to transfer might also affect your decision. If you're transferring all user accounts, files, and settings from a computer, use an Easy Transfer Cable or a network. If you're transferring just a few files, you might want to use removable media, such as a USB flash drive.
In this example I've used a network drive.
Click on "This is my old computer".
Next, you will be prompted to write down the Windows Easy Transfer key. You will need to enter it on the Windows 7 computer.
Now go to the new computer and open and run Windows Easy Transfer on your computer running Windows 7. You can open the Windows 7 version of Windows Easy Transfer by clicking the Start button. In the search box, type “Easy Transfer” and then click Windows Easy Transfer.
Click "Next". You will be prompted to select the destination location of the transferred files. Again, I've used a network drive.
Since this is the new computer, choose "This is my new computer".
Because Easy Transfer has already been installed on the old computer, choose that setting.
Click "Next". Enter the Windows Easy Transfer key.
Windows Easy Transfer will try to establish a connection with the old computer. If successful, a very quick confirmation message will be displayed, and the program will scan the files and settings that can be transferred. This process might take several minutes, depending on the amount of files, documents and settings.
In the meantime, on the old computer, Windows Easy Transfer will tell you not to touch anything.
When the process is done, it will tell you how many files et.c were found. You can accept the defaults.
Or you can manually select the types of files and settings you want to include/exclude by pressing on the "Customize" link.
And, if you fancy even more customization, press on the "Advanced" link.
When done, click "Transfer".
When the process is finished, either click on "Close", or expand the details to see a log of what exactly was transferred.
After closing, you'll be prompted to restart the new computer.
On the old computer, you'll get a message saying process has been completed.
None of the files on the old computer have been changed.
You may also want to read:
Windows XP to Windows 7 Hard-Link Migration of User Files and Settings