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The problem

When you give users a new computer, they may spend valuable
time reconfiguring preferences to match those on their old computer. Not only is
this time unproductive, but it can also make the migration process more painful
than it should be.

The cause

Microsoft has always given Windows users the ability to
customize their desktops. Given this freedom, users seize the opportunity to
make changes to Windows’ default configuration, in some cases customizing almost
everything. When users receive a new computer, they almost immediately want to start
personalizing it. They want everything back the way it was on their old
computer and may spend hours customizing their new machine.

The solution

One way to keep users from wasting time personalizing their workstation
is to just migrate the settings for them when you deploy the new computer.
Understanding the problem, Microsoft tried to make the migration easier by
creating the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard. You can put this solution to work
by using the following steps.

  1. Set up
    the new computer and connect it to the network while also leaving the old
    computer connected to the network. The old computer must be powered up,
    but the user doesn’t need to log on.

  2. Start
    the Files And Settings Transfer Wizard by clicking Start | All Programs |
    Accessories | System Tools | Files And Settings Transfer Wizard on the old
    computer.

Note: The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard allows you to move
settings to new Windows XP workstations from Windows 9x and Windows 2000 (as
well as Windows XP). Because the wizard doesn’t exist on Windows 9x and 2000,
you must run the wizard on the new computer, selecting the location as New
Computer. You can then create a Files And Settings Transfer Wizard disk that
you can use on the old computer to migrate files.

  1. Click
    Next to bypass the introduction screen.

  2. On the
    Which Computer Is This? screen, select whether you’re currently on the new
    or old computer and click Next.

  3. You’ll
    then see the Select A Transfer Method screen. Choose how you want to
    transfer the files—over the network, to a floppy disk, or by using a
    direct connection. Click Next.

  4. On the
    What Do You Want To Transfer? screen, select whether you want to migrate only
    the settings, only the files, or both. Chances are, the user will want to
    transfer everything, so accept the default selection of Both Files And
    Settings. Click Next. To customize (or specify) which files to transfer, select
    the Let Me Select A Custom List check box before clicking Next.

  5. Some
    settings may not transfer automatically if a user has programs installed
    on the old computer that don’t exist on the new one. The Install Programs
    screen that appears next will warn you of this possibility. Click Next.

  6. The wizard
    will then collect and move the files. Depending on the transfer method you
    chose, you may have to go to the new computer, restart the wizard on that
    computer, and then import the settings.

Alternate ideas

There are other ways to move a user’s desktop configuration
from one computer to another. For example, in a networked environment, you can
use roaming profiles so that users’ settings follow them no matter where they
log on to the workstation.

You can also use the tips in the article “Migrating
user files and settings.”
As a more restrictive alternative, you can lock
down Windows’ customization features through a group policy that will limit or
eliminate a user’s ability to change settings, thereby removing the issue
entirely when you deploy a new workstation.