My son inherits my old machines.
His current one was a machine that started with Windows Vista x86 Ultimate RTM, then SP1 and finally SP2. Also, along the way, several versions of Microsoft Office, .NET, Visual Studio, SQL Server and much more.
I usually have dozens of applications installed. Retrieving license keys and installing them a gain is such an hassle that I choose to upgrade whenever I can.
Now that Windows 7 is out and there’s a beta of Office 2010, my son wanted to upgrade the machine.
Because the machine had already gone through all those updates and he didn’t like the way I had partitioned the disk, I recommended him to format the disk and do a clean install.
One of the hassles of a clean install is that you loose all your settings such as Internet Explorer settings and favorites and Microsoft Outlook accounts and PSTs (specially if you have IMAP accounts).
Windows Easy Transfer guides you through the process of transferring files and settings from one Windows installation to another.
With Windows Easy Transfer you can transfer:
Files and folders.Everything within the Documents, Pictures, and Shared Documents folders. Using advanced options, you can select additional files and folders to transfer.
E‑mail settings, contacts, and messages.Messages, account settings, and address books from Microsoft Outlook Express, Outlook, Windows Mail, and other e‑mail programs.
Program settings.Settings that keep your programs configured as you had them on your old installation. You must first install the programs on your new computer, because Windows Easy Transfer does not transfer the programs themselves. Some programs might not work on this version of Windows, including security programs, antivirus programs, firewall programs (your new computer should already have a firewall running to help ensure safety during the transfer), and programs with software drivers.
User accounts and settings.Color schemes, desktop backgrounds, network connections, screen savers, fonts, Start menu options, taskbar options, folders, specific files, network printers and drives, and accessibility options.
Internet settings and favorites.Internet connection settings, favorites, and cookies.
Music.Electronic music files, playlists, and album art.
Pictures and video.Pictures—which includes any visual file type (for example, .jpg, .bmp, .gif) – and personal videos.
After saving everything to the .MIG file, all it took was installing Windows 7, Office 2010 and import the settings back.
To get the other files and folders that were on the disk before being formatted, since we have a Windows Home Server that backs up all the PCs in the house , all it was needed was mounting one of the old backups as a disk and copying the files back.
It’s so easy that he did it al by himself while and he just turned 14. So, if you need to do something like this, don’t stress. It’s that easy.