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Old 2012-07-08, 13:27   Link #1
creb
Hiding Under Your Bed
 
 
Join Date: May 2008
Copying programs and files from one PC to another.

If one wanted to copy one's programs and files and settings from one windows 7 computer to another, what would the easiest way be?

In the past, I've just done it manually, but I find myself getting impatient in my old age.

Would that be the use of some drive-imaging software?

If so, any recommendations?

Thanks.
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Old 2012-07-08, 14:36   Link #2
Renegade334
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Windows 7 has an in-built function called "Windows Easy Transfer" (to view the video, you need a Silverlight plugin), which allows you to back up system settings, documents, registry and program files so that they may be used on a different computer. For this task, you need either a cable connexion between the two machines OR a portable storage device, such as a thumb drive or an external HDD.

You can then use WET on the other computer to integrate the settings and files you've generated on the first PC.

Drive imaging (Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, TeraByte Unlimited Image for Windows, O&O Drive Image, etc) is a more radical (and arguably MUCH LESS time-consuming) approach, but if you don't know what you're doing (tampering with settings like main boot record restoration/reset), you can damage your hard drive (that is, damage the MBR, which means your Windows 7 installation will no longer discern any other partitions on the HDD), though -thankfully- not always permanently. This is particularly true when you use bootable CDs - I've seen enough online testimonies from clueless users who had no idea as to how to backup/restore partitions, ended up digitally ravaging their own HDD landscape...and blamed it all on the software.

You also need drive imaging software that explicitly allows you to restore a partition image to a different machine.
Spoiler for skip this if you're not interested in why that latter part can be an issue:
Some drive imaging programs allow you to burn an image partition onto a different disk without causing excessive compatibility hassle, though I don't know whether it does circumvent the hardware check routine.

Also, there's the matter of mismatched drivers, etc. to take into consideration...and the fact that some drive-imaging programs do allow you to restore a partition image to a larger or smaller destination partition, whereas others don't. Make sure to research extensively before trying, you could save yourself some emotional pain.

So...even though I know you wanted to avoid it, I'd still suggest you proceed with a barebones Windows install (install directly from your W7 DVD, I mean) then start adding your programs one by one. It might sound tedious, but being forced to go through the entire shebang sometimes helps you reconsider what you truly need and what you don't, not to mention how to better set up programs you are already familiar with.

After you are done, use Windows Easy Transfer to carry over the settings, browser bookmarks, documents, program files, etc.
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Last edited by Renegade334; 2012-07-08 at 14:46.
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Old 2012-07-08, 16:44   Link #3
monster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade334 View Post
For this task, you need either a cable connexion between the two machines
What kind of cable?
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Old 2012-07-08, 17:42   Link #4
Renegade334
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There's something called Easy Transfer Cable, which apparently was created for Windows Easy Transfer (check it on Wikipedia or Google the name), but you can also use USB-USB cables (mind you, the aforementioned ETC is actually an USB 2.0 system). And then there's the ubiquitous Ethernet cable ("crossover" cable) - either you link one PC to the other with it, or you use a router in between.

Having a private network to share files through does the trick, too, btw. Or, as I've mentioned above, you can simply use a USB external hard drive to ferry the backup files from one PC to the other.
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Old 2012-07-08, 17:46   Link #5
monster
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So, as long as the two computers are (or can be) connected in some way, WET will recognize the connection and transfer the data?

Does it work wirelessly?
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Old 2012-07-08, 17:55   Link #6
Renegade334
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Personally, I've never tested WET, as I always install Windows + all programs from start to finish (though the program looks quite straightforward). I like customizing and optimizing everything, therefore WET is kind of pointless for me (not to mention that every time I bought a new PC, I usually made the jump to a newer OS; forcefully familiarizing myself with a new environment diminished the usefulness of WET in my eyes).

However, if you have an Easy Transfer Cable linking PC #1 to PC #2, then, yes, WET will automatically transfer the files through that connection, since it's one of the three transmission modes offered by the program (just click on the Start button and type "Windows Easy Transfer", it'll give you an idea of how it works). The second transmission mode is "home network" or something like that (Wi-fi should theoretically pose no problem, to answer your second question). Third one is external/removable hard drive.

I don't know about Ethernet crossover cables, though, but I assume they're compatible with option #2. But as I said, using the third mode is fine, for as long as the storage device is large enough to contain everything you wish to back up (which can go from less than a hundred megs to a few gigs depending on which folders you've earmarked).
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Old 2012-07-08, 18:20   Link #7
monster
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Alright, thanks for your input on the matter.
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Old 2012-07-28, 18:31   Link #8
creb
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I just wanted to post an update.

I ended up using Clonezilla to painlessly clone and image my drive over all my computers. If anyone else is looking for an imaging program, I'd definitely recommend it.
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