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Commentary
1/3/2011
10:31 AM
Lamont Wood
Lamont Wood
Commentary
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Windows Easy Transfer is Boon for SMBs

The Windows 7 facility makes upgrading PCs straightforward for do-it-yourselfers, as it transfers settings as well as user files.

The Windows 7 facility makes upgrading PCs straightforward for do-it-yourselfers, as it transfers settings as well as user files.The old Vista machine of a certain family member had developed nearly glacial response times, which were cured by getting a new quad-core Windows 7 machine. But what about all those settings on the old machine, especially the remembered passwords for various Web sites? And what about the e-mail account information?

It turns out that Windows 7 has a facility called Easy Transfer, which can handle the transfer through external storage devices, or through a direct connection via LAN or special USB cable.

First, I installed third-party software to match what was on the old machine, especially (in this case) Firefox and Microsoft Office, plus a printer driver.

Then I called up Easy Transfer on the new (Windows 7) machine. (Just type the words "easy transfer" in the search window under the start button.) I chose the LAN option, as both the old and new machines were on an Ethernet LAN.

It had me load the software on a USB memory stick and put it in the old machine, where (with permission) it loaded and ran. The old machine then gave me a code number to give the new machine. Using it, the two machines then found each other, and surveyed the files in the old machine. They decided that just under 2 gigabytes needed to be moved. The transfer then took more than a half hour.

When the transfer was done, the new machine had a desktop with the same icons as the old one, in the same positions on the screen. Clicking on Word, for instance, brought up Word with the same recent file list you'd have see on the old machine, and the files could immediately be worked on. Basically, Easy Transfer had moved all the old user documents to locations consistent with the Windows 7 file scheme.

It did not move any programs to the new machine. I had already installed the main third-party programs that would be needed. Otherwise, inherited screen icons that called up other software that had not been installed only triggered error messages.

The e-mail account was there in Outlook, fully functional, with its various mail boxes with their contents. Both Firefox and IE8 had inherited all the bookmarks from the old machine, with remembered passwords.

Having had to wrestle with such things manually in the past, it was an enormous relief.

Assuming you keep it organized and on hand, your third-party software ought to install itself, so the real hassle in upgrading is the user files and settings. Easy Transfer can handle that, so any office should be able to upgrade without IT support. And what SMB has IT support anyway?

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