Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Vista’s painless transfer tool

Loyal friends and true of this series may have the feeling that I have nothing nice to say about Vista. Today I’m going to prove that concept as untrue. I do have some nice things to say.

But first let me review some of the truths that aren’t so nice:
1) Vista is “resource intensive”. That means it’s big, and it takes a lot of RAM to run properly — Vista should be run on a dual-core CPU and have at least a GigaByte of RAM memory (fast RAM memory), and really should be run on two Gigabytes. And..

2) Vista doesn’t like really old devices. It is becoming easier to find device drivers for older hardware, and this ‘truthism’ is becoming less true, but if you have a really old device, (say a printer that attaches via a parallel port), or an old and never-was-popular device (say a very early Radio Shack TV ‘tuner’ card), then you should be prepared to buy a more up-to-date replacement.

3) The first “Service Pack” hasn’t been released yet.

Because of these facts (as I have mentioned before in such articles as Upgrading to Vista) I have advised my readers not to “upgrade” their existing (and therefore older) machines to Vista — especially without having first run the Vista Upgrade (Compatibility) Advisor tool. And I did warn folks that an Upgrade cannot be undone.
Why pay money for a operating system that will bog down, and your sound card and video capture card won’t run? That’s what will happen if you Upgrade a 2½-to-5 year-old PC. Just because it works dandy-fine on XP, doesn’t mean it’ll work on Vista.

No. Don’t Upgrade to Vista.. upgrade to a new machine (that has Vista on it). I stick by that opinion. Unflinchingly.

Vista is slick. It’s more secure. It’s going to bring us (eventually) advances in our video games. It actually competes with Apple. It doesn’t bury Settings so deeply nor hide them so well. It has new (to Windows) features. And…
1) It does some (most, actually) things better than XP does.

What do I mean? Well, recently I had the unique pleasure of installing a whole new network: everything was new — brand new Vista PCs, new WAPs/routers, and Gigabit Ethernet on Cat6. This was quite a bit of a different experience than adding Vista machines to an existing (XP-based) network.. or even of adding XP machines to a XP-based network. Granted, this was a SOHO network of less than 10 machines, and I wasn’t dealing with Active Directory, but the difference was night and day.

I was most impressed by the fact that each machine joined the network, and saw its neighbors, effortlessly. This was easy to see happening, too. Vista shows you a dynamic network map. Routers and the Internet were automatically detected.
Folder sharing worked as it should.. no strange Permission errors.. no “folder climbing”, as with prior editions. For you audiophiles, Vista and Windows Media Player (can) readily and automatically shares (like a server) each machine’s music libraries.. a couple of clicks, for that.

And this is what blew me away– all the machines were to share an older HP DeskJet. And the network’s owner didn’t want to purchase the equipment make a print server, but to use one of the PCs.. like most people do at home. So I installed the printer and then clicked on “Share this printer”, like I’ve done a thousand times before. Then I went to each machine and opened their Printer section of the Control Panel, and there was the printer! Whoa! All I had to do was make sure it was set as the default printer (one click).
Did I say, “blew my mind”? I was floored. No “Add new printer” wizard. No trying to browse to a \\XPmachine\HPDeskJet share. No error messages. Wow. This was Plug and Play the way it’s supposed to be! Too easy.
My hours spent installing the network was a mere fraction of what I was (from experience) reasonably expecting. Not good for my bottom line; great for Vista owners.

For those of you who have ever used a User State Migration Tool, or Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool, to migrate your data from an old computer to your new computer — or purchased a special program, or cable — you know that getting your new machine exactly as you had your old machine required some time and effort.

The owner of the new network wanted me to replicate his XP set up onto one of the new Vista machines, and the usual method has been to to use one of the techniques mentioned in the paragraph above. But I didn’t. I used an adjunct to Window’s built-in Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool, which will be today’s free link.
I downloaded this program to both his XP machine and the new Vista machine. Then I plugged his XP machine into the new network. Surprise! The XP machine was instantly seen and recognized. (Try doing the reverse, and see if the XP machines find the Vista..)
Then I launched the Windows Easy Transfer Companion on the Vista PC and followed the wizard. The two machines established a connection and the XP machine transferred its installed programs, and all the files, and all of the owners tweaks and settings (like bookmarks, and custom toolbars). All I did was watch.
This was, by far, the fastest and easiest user state migration I’ve ever experienced, and truly was like the title of this article — painless. Again, this is bad for a PC Tech’s bottom line, but great for Vista owners.

Today’s free link: When you buy a new PC, you will almost certainly want to transfer all kinds of things from the machine you’ve been using to the new one. Microsoft has “a companion” for the Easy Files and Settings Transfer tool called the Windows Easy Transfer Companion. It is actually a ‘stand-alone’. This tool not only transfers your documents and personalized Settings tweaks, but the programs you have installed. This is a huge time saver.
I did my transfer over the local network, but you can use the other methods of data storage to make the transfer as well– including USB thumb drives. [Note: while Microsoft still considers this program to be in beta, I experienced absolutely no hiccups or difficulties at all.]

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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November 2, 2007 - Posted by | advice, computers, device drivers, dual-core processors, file system, hardware, how to, network shares, networking, PC, permissions, routers, security, Simple File Sharing, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , ,


  1. i dont know what is that in vista that fascinates you i am bored of it!


    Comment by Acer laptops | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  2. Ha!
    Click on Vista in my Tag Cloud to see all of what I’ve written about Microsoft’s “new” O/S, and you will clearly see I am not an advocate.
    However, as more and more people buy new machines, the more Vista users there will be. I don’t write about “tweaking” Windows 98, for fairly obvious reasons.
    This series of articles is about helping people understand and get the most out of these wonderful, but often exasperating machines.
    Can I ignore Vista? No. (Well,.. I could.. But what’d be the fun of that?)


    Comment by techpaul | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  3. it is something very cool , i dont know why “acer “is bored of this .


    Comment by Toshiba laptops | November 3, 2007 | Reply

  4. I am getting my new Vista laptop tomorrow and was not looking forward to installing all my software and setting up the new laptop to make it like my old XP laptop.

    If this works, I will be one happy camper!

    Thank you so much for this!


    Comment by gadzooks64 | November 19, 2007 | Reply

  5. Congratulations on your new laptop. Christmas came early, eh?
    I want to remind you that it will not transfer ALL programs to Vista– some (mostly security programs like antivirus) will need to be reinstalled if you want to stay with them, due to the differences in interaction with the OS kernal.
    The Easy Transfer Companion will tell you which programs not to attempt a transfer with, and I suggest you follow its advice.
    Since the PCs referred to in this article came with a “trial” security suite that would cover them until the Enterprise-level security was in place, I did not have to install any software (except for the Transfer Companion download), which quite frankly, is a remarkable thing.


    Comment by techpaul | November 19, 2007 | Reply

  6. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

    I plan to remove all that trial software.

    My ISP gives us CA Security Package for free so I will be installing that after everything is transfered.

    I am most concerned about MS Office 2003 and Quicken 2007. Will it xfer those? The rest of the stuff I can download again fairly painlessly.

    My XP laptop’s usb ports suddenly quick working so I took advantage of a deal on a refurbed Toshiba on Getting psyched to get it tomorrow.


    Comment by gadzooks64 | November 19, 2007 | Reply

  7. Sounds good to me. Please, let me know how it goes by writing me at

    I had no trouble transfering Office, and an accounting app was not involved; so I cannot say inre Quicken.. though it really is a database, like Access, and Access transfered fine.

    The sudden USB failure may have been as simple as a driver, or it may mean a new mobo.


    Comment by techpaul | November 19, 2007 | Reply

  8. Great article.

    Yes, usually whenever I buy a new system I will too remove all the trial softwares. It slows down your system a lot because all those trial software are added into your windows startup.


    Comment by geniv | August 12, 2008 | Reply

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