April 21, 2010, 7:39 AM — by Lincoln Spector, PC World - Gerald Slane wants to know how to move data and settings to his new, Windows 7-based PC.
Windows 7 comes with a pretty good migration tool--certainly better than the XP or Vista versions--but it's not perfect. I won't give you step-by-step instructions (it's very intuitive and you don't need them), but I'll help you through the major decisions and pitfalls.
But first, you must make your hidden files and folders visible on the old PC (I'll tell you why in a little while). Open Windows Explorer and, if you're using XP, select Tools, then Folder Options. If you're using Vista, select Organize, then Folder and search options. In either OS, click the View tab, select Show hidden files and folders (or Show hidden files, folders, and drives), and click OK.
Now you're ready to get started.
On the new PC, select Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Windows Easy Transfer. Or you can simply select Start, type easy transfer, then press ENTER to launch the program.
The program will ask how you want to transfer items, and offer three options. Here's what you need to know about them:
Network: This is by far the easiest option, provided you've got both computers on a network and that they're able to access each other. If not, forget it.
Easy Transfer cable: Several companies make USB cables specifically for Windows Easy Transfer. I tried StarTech.com's USB 2.0 Data File Transfer Cable for Windows, and despite packaging that referred only to the Vista version, it worked just fine with Window 7. I assume other companies' cables will, too. The main problem: You have to buy one. I've seen them on sale for about $10.
External hard drive or flash drive: This sneakernet solution is the slowest option, because you have to copy everything twice. But if you don't have a network, don't want to buy a cable, and have an external hard drive handy with plenty of free space (forget the flash drive; it won't be big enough), it's still pretty simple.
When you get passed this decision, the version of Easy Transfer running on your new PC will help you get another instance of it up on the old one. Then it will scan the old PC and decide what needs transferring.
And that's where the program doesn't quite work as it should. It selects all the obvious files and folders (documents, music, and so on) for copying, but it misses almost everything in the appdata folders. Here's what to do: