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Migrating to Windows 8: How to Save Your Data and Settings

Whenever you upgrade to a new operating system it is always important that you’re aware of the need to preserve your data. If you’re migrating to the recently released Windows 8 then luckily the process to save your data and settings is quite an easy one. This is thanks to a utility called Windows Easy Transfer. If you’re running Windows 7 then you’ll already have the program installed, but if you’re on XP or Vista you can download it from Microsoft’s website.
Windows Easy Transfer can use a network to back up your data and an Easy Transfer Cable, but this guide will focus on using an external hard drive for simplicity. If you don’t already own an external drive then you can pick one up relatively cheaply. You’ll probably find they come in handy for other tasks too, so think of it as an investment. It’s more cost effective to buy an external hard drive than an Easy Transfer Cable (since you’ll be able to store other data on the drive and use it as a backup method in the future).
Before beginning, is important to note that Windows Easy Transfer will only back up things such as user accounts, documents, music and other personal data. It will not transfer programs and these will have to be reinstalled manually.
To begin the migration process, first plug in the external drive to your old computer. Load up Windows Easy Transfer and you will be greeted with a screen telling you what type of data you can transfer. Click ‘Next’ and select that you want to use ‘An external hard disk or USB flash drive’ to transfer your data. You’ll then be asked to select whether this is your old or new computer, of which you pick the former.
Windows Easy Transfer will ask what type of data you wish to transfer, which you can narrow down to type (like documents, music or pictures) by using the checkboxes. Click ‘Next’ and you will be given an option to password protect your files. You can skip this if you wish. You will then be asked where to save the files to. Select the external hard drive and click ‘Save’. The process will begin.
When the transfer is complete a new window will show. Click ‘Next’, shut down the computer and unplug the external hard drive. You now need to move to the new computer running Windows 8.
Open up Windows Easy Transfer, click ‘An external hard disk or USB flash drive’ and then ‘This is my new PC’. The utility will ask whether your saved files are already on an external hard drive. Plug in the external drive and click ‘Yes’ and then navigate to the drive using the Windows browser. Your files will be called “Windows Easy Transfer – items from old computer”. Double click this and you’ll be able to select which data you wish to transfer.
Click ‘Advanced Options’ and ensure that the user account names match up (use the dropdown box if they don’t). Click ‘Save’ and then click ‘Transfer’. The process will begin.
When the process is finished you will be offered to see what was transferred or see a list of apps that you might want to install to your new PC. When complete, press ‘Close’.


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