Microsoft

Use Windows Easy Transfer over a network to migrate from XP to Windows 8

Move files and settings from Windows XP to a new Windows 8 computer using a network connection.

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If you are currently running Windows XP and are planning to get a new Windows 8 computer before Microsoft ends support for Windows XP, then you may be wondering how you will go about migrating your data and settings from Windows XP to Windows 8. Fortunately, Windows 8 comes with a little used migration tool called Windows Easy Transfer, which first appeared in Windows Vista and was improved for Windows 7. Windows Easy Transfer has been updated for Windows 8 and provides features for migrating from Windows XP.

In this article, I'll walk you through the entire process of migrating files and settings from a Windows XP computer to a new Windows 8 computer using a network connection. You'll then have a very good idea of what to expect when you run Windows Easy Transfer on your Windows XP system.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Overview

There are actually three ways that you can use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 8 depending on how you are migrating. If you are migrating from one operating system to another on the same computer, you would use an external hard disk or a USB flash drive as an intermediary device. However, in the case of moving from Windows XP to Windows 8.x, chances are you will be migrating from an old computer to a new computer. As such, you'll want to connect the two computers together using either an Easy Transfer Cable or your network.

Since just about everyone's computer is connected a network, I've decided to cover the network method in this article. In addition to running across a cabled network, Windows Easy transfer will run just fine across a wireless connection.

Keep in mind that Windows Easy Transfer is only designed to migrate your data files and your settings. It does not migrate your applications. As such, you will have to manually reinstall those applications that are Windows 8 compatible.

More specifically Windows Easy Transfer will allow you to migrate the following:

  • Files and folders
  • E-mail settings
  • Contacts and messages
  • Program settings
  • User accounts and settings
  • Internet settings and favorites
  • Music
  • Pictures and videos

Getting started

Once you have your Windows XP and Windows 8 systems on the network, you're ready to get started. You'll begin by launching Windows Easy Transfer on your Windows 8 system. While there are several ways that you can launch Windows Easy Transfer, the quickest way is to use the [Windows] + Q keystroke to access the Apps Search page and then type Easy in the text box. When Windows Easy Transfer appears in the search results, as shown in Figure A, just click the icon.

Figure A

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Accessing the Windows Easy Transfer from the Start screen is easy.

In a moment, you'll see the introductory screen on the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, as shown in Figure B. As you can see from the list shown on this screen, Windows Easy Transfer will allow you to copy everything that you will need on your new computer.

Figure B

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Windows Easy Transfer allows you to copy everything that you will need on your new computer.

When you click Next, you'll see the screen that prompts you to choose how you want to transfer items to your new computer. You'll select the network option, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

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When prompted to choose your transfer method, select the network option.

The preparation phase

Once you select the network as your transfer method, you're ready to begin the preparation phase, in which you will choose how and where to copy the Windows Easy Transfer executable files for your Windows XP system. The first screen in this phase of the operation prompts you to identify the PC on which you are working. In this case, you'll select the This is my new PC option, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

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The first step in this phase is to identify the PC on which you are working.

Now that you've identified your Windows 8 system as the new PC, the wizard will prompt you to begin preparations to make the Windows Easy Transfer software available for your Windows XP system. As you can see in Figure E, you'll now select the My old PC is running Windows XP option.

Figure E

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Select the Windows XP option to prepare the installation.

You'll next be prompted to choose where you want to copy the Windows Easy Transfer executable files. As you can see in Figure F, you'll select the shared network folder option and will then see a browse dialog box. In my example, I chose to create a new folder called WinET in my Windows 8 system's Public\Public Documents folder. When both Windows XP and Windows 8 are on the same network, the Public folder system makes it extremely easy to share files on the network.

Figure F

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I created a new folder in Windows 8's Public folder system for the Windows Easy Transfer executable files.

Once you specify the location, the Windows Easy Transfer executable files will be copied to that folder, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

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The copy operation will take just a few minutes.

After the files are copied, you'll see the screen shown in Figure H, which prompts you run Windows Easy Transfer on your Windows XP system. At this point, just leave this screen as it is and physically move to your Windows XP system.

Figure H

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Just leave this screen as it is and physically move to your Windows XP system.

Initializing Windows Easy Transfer in Windows XP

When you are on your Windows XP system, launch My Network Places and navigate to the folder in which you copied the Windows Easy Transfer files. When you open that folder, you'll find a shortcut titled Windows Easy Transfer that you will use to launch the process, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

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After you navigate the network, use the shortcut to run Windows Easy Transfer in Windows XP.

As soon as you launch the shortcut, you'll be prompted to confirm the run operation. When you do, Windows Easy Transfer will run as a stand-alone application - technically it isn't installed in Windows XP. These steps are illustrated in Figure J.

Figure J

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When you confirm the operation, Windows Easy transfer will be run on your Windows XP system.

When Windows Easy Transfer launches, you see the introductory screen and then be prompted to choose the transfer type. These screens will be identical to the ones shown above in Figures B and C. You'll then be prompted to identify the PC on which you are working. In this case, there is only one option; This is my old PC, as shown in Figure K.

Figure K

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When you step into the Windows Easy Transfer wizard on your Windows XP system, there will only be one choice.

You'll then see a screen that shows you the Windows Easy Transfer key, as shown in Figure L. This randomly generated number sequence consists of six digits separated by a dash. At this point, your Windows XP system goes into a wait state where it will essentially listen on the network for a broadcast containing that key sequence. When it picks up a broadcast containing that key, it will respond and a connection will initiated. To continue, take note to the Windows Easy Transfer key number sequence, leave this screen as it is, and physically move back to your Windows 8 system.

Figure L

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The Windows Easy Transfer key will allow your Windows XP system and your Windows 8 system to establish an exclusive connection.

Running the transfer operation in Windows 8

When you return to your Windows 8 system, click Next and you'll be prompted to enter in the Windows Easy Transfer key, as shown in Figure M. Once you enter the key and click Next, Windows Easy Transfer will broadcast the key and wait for a response. When a response is received from your Windows XP system, Windows Easy Transfer will establish a connection, check for updates, check compatibility, and then check what can be transferred.

Figure M

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You will enter the windows Easy Transfer key on your Windows 8 system.

In a moment, Windows Easy Transfer will begin scanning the user account on your Windows XP system and will display a progress bar, as shown in Figure N. As you can see, in addition to scanning your user account, Windows XP's Shared Documents folder will also be scanned. If there are multiple user accounts on your Windows XP system, they too will be scanned and you will be given the opportunity to transfer those user accounts and files over to your Windows 8 system.

Figure N

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A progress bar will keep you apprised of the scanning operation.

When Windows Easy Transfer is finished scanning your Windows XP system, you'll see the total amount of space required for all the items that were found and selected. If you don't want to copy everything, you can click the Customize button and you'll see a breakdown of where all the files came from, as shown in Figure O. You can then remove items from the transfer operation by clearing check boxes.

Figure O

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Clicking Customize shows you list of folders containing the files that will be transferred.

As you can see, this list just names the folders containing the files that will be transferred. If you would like to be more specific, click Advanced and you'll see an Explorer-like window, as shown in Figure P. Here, you can pick and choose individual files.

Figure P

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This Explorer-like window allows you to pick and choose individual files.

If you want to exercise even more control over the transfer process, clicking Advanced Options will reveal a two tabbed dialog box that will allow you to map user accounts and drives, as shown in Figure Q. Mapping user accounts, will come in handy if you are migrating multiple accounts from Windows XP system and you want to keep them separate on your Windows 8 system.

As you can see, if the accounts don’t yet exist on your Windows 8 system, you can use the Create User from the drop down list. Mapping drives might come in handy if you have more than one drive in your Windows 8 system, for example an SSD for operating system files and an SATA drive for your data files.

Figure Q

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In the Advanced Options dialog box, you can map user accounts or map drives.

When you are satisfied with your transfer configuration settings, just click the Transfer button and the transfer process will begin. On your Windows 8 system, you will see a progress bar that will keep you apprised of the operation while on your Windows XP system, you'll see screen that lets you know that the transfer operation is occurring and reminds you not to use Windows XP during the transfer. These two screens are shown in Figure R.

Figure R

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On Windows 8, a progress bar will keep you apprised of the transfer operation while on Windows XP, you just see a message that the files and settings are being transferred.

Completing the procedure

When the transfer procedure is complete, you'll see a message to that effect on your Windows XP system. On your Windows 8 system you'll see a similar message as well as a prompt to view the Windows Easy Transfer Reports. These two screens are shown in Figure S.

Figure S

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When the transfer is complete, you can investigate the Windows Easy Transfer Reports.

As you can see, there are two types of Windows easy Transfer Reports - one that shows you what was transferred and one that shows you a list of application that were found on you old system along with links that provide you with details and possible replacements. Figure T shows the Windows Easy Transfer Reports which can be accessed from the tabs on the dialog box.

Figure T

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You can access the Windows Easy Transfer Reports are available from the tabs on the dialog box.

What's your take?

Will you be getting a new Windows 8 computer to replace your old Windows XP computer? If so, do you think that you will use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate your files and settings? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

6 comments
Bruderadler
Bruderadler

Easy Transfer with Win 8.1 from XP works fine for files via LAN. Just share the source files in XP, then open ET from Win 8.1 machine, select "I have copied files to USB....", select shared files from the XP machine and just copy-paste to some folder in your Win 8.1 machine. Complains maybe about "Server reserved.." but just ignore and wait until copying is finished.

kohl
kohl

The description of Windows Easy Transfer in this column is valid for Win8.0, but Easy Transfer no longer exists where Win8.1 is the originating-computer's system.  And, where the _final_ system is Win8.1 it will only transfer the files (not the settings) from a computer running Win7, RT or 8.0, but from a computer running a still earlier version of Windows you are _completely_ out of luck, no files or settings can be transferred, and Microsoft gives warnings in bold print about using any third-party program to transfer files and settings.  (See  http://www.infoworld.com/d/microsoft-windows/solving-the-mystery-of-windows-81s-missing-features-230702?page=0,0   and   http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1-performance/easy-transfer-tool-is-not-running-properly-under/cbc58c28-79e5-4201-9409-ad7719d617c6  .)
Microsoft is apparently pushing Skydrive (now, I am told, to be called OneDrive) as can be seem from one of the references.

eclar2
eclar2

Greg,

I have read your article and wanted to transfer my files from my old Windows 8.1 computer to a new Windows 8.1 computer, however, the network option is no longer available in Windows 8.1. Is there a work around, I don't have hard drive or USB drive to hold my files.

NWC1116
NWC1116

Have used this process many times with the USB cable moving to Win7. Works great with computer that don't have a lot of files to transfer and fast USB ports. Have had it take 12 plus hours when 20 or more GB needed to be transferred. I don't know why it took that long in some cases.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Will you be getting a new Windows 8 computer to replace your old Windows XP computer? If so, do you think that you will use Windows Easy Transfer to migrate your files and settings?