How can I copy ALL my setting and preferences from one Windows machine to another? ~ Ask The Admin

Thursday, April 17, 2008

How can I copy ALL my setting and preferences from one Windows machine to another?

You went out and copped yourself a brand spanking new machine?

Nervous about moving all your stuff from one machine to another?

Fear not end user...

If you want to skip to the how to and pass on the intro to profiles 101 just skip down to the
** below and start your migrating!

From all the machines I have recovered from the brink of data destruction and all the profiles I have saved over the years, Your friendly neighborhood admin has picked up a few tricks of the trade for dealing with those tricky windows profiles.

Through trial and error I learned that if you create a new user via the control panel before you copy the profile over the folder created in documents and settings it will work. You can not be logged in as that user or you will not be able to over write all the files (as they will be in use). You will need administrator rights to overwrite them as well.

But if you copy the users profile folder to the documents and settings folder hoping that you will log in as the user for the first time and it will use this profile - It won't. It will just create a new profile the first time the user logs on and it will append a number to it
like user.1 or something like that.

I went at it like that during the early xp days but soon I succumbed to the beast that is Microsoft and tried their settings and migration wizard and strangely.... It Worked great. Surprised?

I was!

As long as you install your applications like MS Office before running this all your standard preferences will be right where you want them.

It is as simple as opening the application on
the old computer by navigating to Start - Programs - Accessories - system tools and finally choosing the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard.

You will then see the following window. Choose I will use the wizard from the Windows XP CD as your option.

Choose what you would like to copy and where you want to copy it to (network share, usb drive or other media)

Now your data is out of the profile in a prepped data folder ready to import your settings. Then fire up the same tool on the new machine and choose the last option that you have already exported your data,

It will ask you for the path to the files you saved from the old computer and after you log off and log back on your desktop should be identical to the old one down to the wallpaper. Your office settings have been migrated down to your favorite fonts and all your favorites are in place.


This works as long as the new machine is Windows XP or better. The original machine can be Windows 98 or better!

How do you migrate or upgrade your users?