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Migration Facts

Migration is the process of moving personal and user files to a new computer or back to an old computer once it has been upgraded. Through migration, you do not lose user profile data and settings, such as the following:

  • User accounts
  • Files and folders, including documents, music, and videos
  • Photos, music, and videos
  • Windows settings
  • Program data files and settings
  • Internet settings

Note: Migration does not move or copy applications.

Windows 7 offers two types of migration:

Migration Type Description
Side-by-side A side-by-sidemigration is used when the source and destination installations are on different computers. A side-by-side migration:
  • Uses two separate computers.
  • Retains the user information on the source computer.
  • Allows a user to easily return to the source computer and reuse the user information if the migration fails.
  • Is necessary if the source computer's hardware lacks support for Windows 7.
Wipe-and-load A wipe-and-loadmigration is when the source and destination installations reside on the same computer. A wipe-and-load migration:
  • Uses a single computer.
  • Exports the user information to an external drive, USB flash drive, or network share.
  • Imports the user information after a clean Windows 7 installation.
  • Makes it difficult for a user to return to the original configuration if the migration fails.
  • Is also known as a computer refresh.

As described in the following table, there are two migration tools within Windows 7:

Tool Description
Windows Easy Transfer (WET) Windows Easy Transfer (WET) is for user data migration in small environments or for a single computer. Use the following steps to transfer settings using WET:
  1. Run WET.
    • If transferring files from one computer to a new computer, download and install WET on the old computer. You must run the Windows 7 version of WET on the source computer.
    • If saving user files from a computer on which you're about to complete a clean installation, the installation DVD gives you the option to use WET.
  2. Select the transfer method. You can use the following methods:
    • Easy Transfer cable uses a USB crossover cable between the source and destination computers to perform a side-by-side migration.
    • Network uses the LAN connection between the source and destination computers to perform a side-by-side migration.
    • External hard disk or USB flash drivesaves migrated data for later import on the target computer. Data can be saved to:
      • External or Internal HD
      • Flash drive
      • Optical drive
      • Network share
      This method can be used for side-by-side and wipe-and-load migrations, and is the only method possible when performing a wipe-and-load migration.
  3. Specify what data to transfer:
    • All user accounts, files, and settings (recommended).
    • My user account, files, and settings only transfers only the current user files.
    • Advanced options allows you to specify which files and settings to transfer.
  4. Select the location or media to which the data will be transferred. By default, the saved data is saved as SaveData.mig.
  5. Following the installation of Windows 7, browse to and double-click on the .mig file to start the transfer process to the new system.

Note: The Easy Transfer Wizard in (WET) is known as the migwiz.exe utility.

User State Migration Tool (USMT) User State Migration Tool (USMT) is an advanced tool designed for larger environments or many computers. USMT:
  • Is a command-line tool that typically saves settings to a network location for transfer to the new system.
  • Is part of the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK).
  • Saves user data to an external source (hard drive, network, etc.) which is then imported onto the destination computer. It cannot be used with an Easy Transfer Cable or to perform a network copy of the user profile directly from source to destination.
  • Does not migrate mapped drivers, local printers, drivers, passwords and shared folder settings.
  • Uses the following XML-formatted configuration files to control which data is migrated from the source computer to the destination computer:
    • MigApp.xml contains rules for migration application settings.
    • MigUser.xml contains rules for user profiles and user data based on file extensions.
    • MigDocs.xml contains information on the location of user documents.
    • Config.xml contains configuration information on which migration features should be excluded.
  • Supports three types of migration stores:
    • Uncompressed saves the data using a hierarchy of folders that mirror the user profiles data, and gives users the advantage of browsing the migration store using Windows Explorer and making changes if need be.
    • Compressed saves the data into a single image file in a separate directory structure, which can be password-protected and encrypted.
    • Hard-link migration stores profile information on the local computer which is not changed while the old operating system is removed and the new version is installed. Hard-link migration is primarily used when performing a custom installation on a system with an existing operating system.
  • Supports offline migrations for Windows 7, Vista, and XP profile data.

Use the following steps to transfer settings using USMT to a network share:

  1. Create a network share to hold the transfer files.
  2. Download and install USMT 4.0.
  3. On the existing installation (i.e., source computer), open a command prompt and run Scanstate.exe \\server_address\directory_path to transfer settings to the network share.
  4. On the target installation (i.e., destination computer), open a command prompt and run Loadstate.exe using the path to the network share.

Be aware of the following options for the scanstate and loadstate commands:

  • /i includes the specified XML-formatted configuration file to control the migration.
  • /ui migrates specified user's data.
  • /ue excludes the specified user's data from migration.
  • /lac creates a user account if the user account is local and does not exist on the destination computer.
  • /lae enables the user account created with the /lac option.
  • /p /nocompress generates a space-estimate file called Usmtsize.txt.

When you perform a custom (clean) installation of Windows 7, Windows creates the C:\Windows.old\ directory and retains files from your previous operating system. Hard-link migrations use the data in the Windows.old directory. However, you may want to manually find and copy your personal files from the Windows.old folder. Use the following Windows.old directories to manually find and copy the files:

Information Type Location if you installed over Windows XP Location if you installed over Windows Vista
Shared files and folders C:\Windows.old\Document and Settings\All Users C:\Windows.old\Users
Profile-specific files and folders C:\Windows.old\Documents and Settings\UserName C:\Windows.old\users\UserName
Installed programs C:\Windows.old\Program Files
Windows settings and preferences C:\Windows.old\Windows

If you perform a clean Windows 7 installation over Windows XP or Vista, use the following ScanState command to create a hard-link migration store and transfer the previous user data from the Windows.old directory: scanstate.exe c:\store /hardlink /i:MigUser.xml /offlineWinOld:c:\windows.old\windows

  • c:\ specifies the location of the migration store on the local drive.
  • /hardlink specifies a hard-link migration store is used during the migration.
  • /i:MigUser.xml specifies the configuration rules for user profiles and user data.
  • /offlineWinOld: specifies the path to the offline Windows.old folder.