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Switching to Microsoft Windows 7 : Migrating Data on a Single Computer

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The first example we’ll look at is migrating data from one system installation to another on the same computer. Before you begin, you need to gather a little information about your computer and use that to make sure that you have the right resources available. The basic problem you need to resolve is determining where are you going to store your applications and data. You can choose from two options:
  • If you have a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive (in other words, a drive capable of both reading and writing either CDs or DVDs), you can burn the information to one or more CDs/DVDs. This has the added advantage of giving you a permanent application backup. Remember, however, that each DVD-ROM only has a capacity of 4.7GB and CDs have far less.

  • If you have an external hard disk or a thumb drive with sufficient capacity, you can store the application data there.

Tip

Although the procedures in this section mostly apply to Windows XP migrations, they are equally applicable to Windows Vista systems. The caveat there, however, is that they only apply to Vista systems in the event that you are performing a new installation. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7, all of the application and data migration is handled as part of the upgrade process, and you do not need to migrate your applications or data.


If you decide to store your application data on an external drive, you should first check to ensure that you have sufficient capacity:

1.
Click Start and choose My Computer.

2.
Select Local Disk (C:) or whatever drive contains the data you want to migrate.

3.
In the lower-left corner, in the Details pane, you will see some basic information about your hard disk, including its total size and the amount of free space it has left (see Figure 1). Subtract the free space from the total size to see how much disk space you are currently using. In this case, subtracting 171GB from 229GB means that we are currently using 58GB of space on this system’s disk.

Figure 1. Selecting the drive shows the drive capacity information you need before migrating data.

4.
Compare the amount of disk space you are using with the capacity of the external hard disk or thumb drive that you plan to use to store your system image. In this example, a 60GB external disk would be sufficient to move everything, whereas a 16GB thumb drive would not. Alternatively, if we were to use DVD-ROMs, we would need a total of 13 DVD-ROMs to store the entire application plus data backup. We arrived at this determination by dividing 58GB (the amount of data we want to move) by 4.7GB per DVD, which comes out to 12.34, or 13 DVDs.

When you have all the equipment and supplies you will need, you can get started. Broadly speaking, you perform five tasks to migrate your applications:

  • Install the migration software on your existing system.

  • Use the migration software to create your application archive, and store that archive.

  • Install Windows 7 and any antivirus software you want to run.

  • Install the migration software under Windows 7.

  • Use the migration software to retrieve your application archive and install it under Windows 7.

Note

One limitation you should be aware of is that, at least as far as PC Relocator is concerned, it is not capable of migrating security software. Therefore, this is the one type of software that you must manually install, preferably before you install your other migrated software.


Task 1: Install the Migration Software

Installing the migration software is easy. For this example, we installed PC Relocator using the following steps:

1.
Place the PC Relocator CD in the system’s CD- or DVD-ROM drive.

2.
Run the Auto Installer.

3.
Answer the installer’s prompts as they come up.

Task 2: Create and Store Your Application Archive

Now we need to get started with the actual migration. One point you should note before beginning is that the relocation archive you create does not delete anything from your existing system configuration. It only copies and archives information.

1.
Quit any other programs that you are running before starting PC Relocator.

2.
Start PC Relocator Ultra Control. If, during the installation, you chose to have an icon for PC Relocator placed on your desktop, you can click it. If not, you’ll need to navigate to the location in which you installed PC Relocator and run the application from there. After the program is launched, you will see the screen shown in Figure 2.



Figure 2. Although PC Relocator isn’t being updated any longer, it’s still a useful tool.

3.
In previous years, you would use the Retrieve the Most Current Version capability to update your software before performing a migration. That option is no longer available, however, because the software is no longer being updated. If you allow the software to try to check for a new version, PC Relocator will lock up. Therefore, you should bypass the update by clicking the Next button.

4.
You will receive a message indicating that to perform your backup, your system needs to shut off any other programs that are currently running. Allow PC Relocator to shut off these other programs, if you have not already done so.

5.
You are asked if this is your old computer or your new one. Select Old PC, as shown in Figure 3, and then click Next.

Figure 3. Choosing Old PC tells PC Relocator that you want to migrate data from this system installation to another.

6.
Now you need to select your transfer method. Because you are transferring your applications to a new system installation on the same system, you need to select the CD/DVD or Other High Capacity Storage option as shown in Figure 4, and then click Next.

Figure 4. Because you are migrating applications from one system installation or another, you need to choose CD/DVD or Other High Capacity Storage.

7.
Now define the storage location for your application archive. If you are going to use an external disk drive of some sort, browse to the appropriate storage location on that external drive (as shown in Figure 5). A default name will be created for you, although you can change that name. If, on the other hand, you are using a CD/DVD drive, you should first insert a blank disk in the drive and then browse to that location.

Figure 5. Choose where you want to store your application archive.

8.
In either case, after you have selected your location, click Next. As shown in Figure 6, PC Relocator performs a quick set of tests to make sure that the storage location is accessible and can be written to by the system.



Figure 6. PC Relocator performs a few tests to make sure that the location in which you want to store your application archive is viable.

9.
You are now ready for PC Relocator to scan your system to build a complete migration manifest. This manifest determines everything that is migrated—applications, settings, user information, and data files. Click Next to start the scan. Figure 7 shows a scan in progress. Depending on how much information is on your system, the scan may take quite a while (as in “overnight,” so be sure to plan your time carefully).



Figure 7. PC Relocator builds a manifest for all of the apps, settings, data files, and user information that will be migrated.


10.
You need to choose the degree of control you want over your relocation (see Figure 8). Depending on your experience and knowledge, you can select from the following:

  • Automatic— Allows PC Relocator to automatically select what programs to relocate and where to relocate them. If you are inexperienced in Windows system administration, we highly recommend that you select automatic and allow the software to handle this step.

  • Standard Selectivity— Provides a moderate degree of control over your migration. Use this setting if you are experienced in Windows system administration.

  • Expert Selectivity— Allows you complete control over your relocation, including retargeting of applications and on-the-fly relocation and reordering of files. Use this setting only if you are experienced in Windows system administration and you require the additional functionality. Click Next to continue.

Figure 8. PC Relocator offers three levels of sensitivity when determining exactly what will be migrated.

11.
Select the items that you want migrated. You will normally want to select Programs, Settings, and Files (see Figure 9). In addition, we have found it useful to leave SmartShield activated to provide a filtering medium against harmful viruses that might be hidden on your computer. Click Next.



Figure 9. Choose the types of items you want migrated.

12.
A software licensing compliance window pops up. Select Yes, I Agree that you will continue to abide by the licensing of any software that you have installed, that you want migrated, and then click the Continue button.

13.
At this point, a listing of all items to be relocated appears (see Figure 10). This listing is based on the system scan performed in step 9. It details every program, program setting, user setting, and file to be migrated. You can add items, remove items, and more from this review window.

Figure 10. Check this list carefully to ensure that everything you want migrated is included here. If programs that you want reinstalled have a low rating, select Add SmartPick to mark them for reinstallation.

14.
When you are done reviewing, and possibly altering, your migration plan, click the Next button. When you do, a second review window appears, without the editing capability (see Figure 11). The ratings that you see reflect PC Relocator’s estimate of the likelihood of successfully migrating a given piece of software. By default, only medium- and high-rated programs are reinstalled. Use this to confirm your migration, and if you see files or applications missing, click the Back button to revise it. When you are done, click Next.

Figure 11. You get one last chance to check over what will be migrated.

15.
At this point, PC Relocator computes a pre-relocation summary, showing what it plans to relocate and how long it will take to do so (see Figure 12). This is the last stop before your actual relocation, so proceed by clicking Next only when you are ready to go ahead.

Figure 12. You’ll see what is being transferred and how long it will take. As you can see, our migration would take more than 21 hours, so plan accordingly.

Tip

We have found over time that the computed transfer estimate time tends to overstate how long a relocation will take. In this example, the computed time is 21 hours, 28 minutes. In reality, this will be done in about 6 hours.

16.
When you click Next on the Pre-relocation Review screen, PC Relocator begins creating your application archive. Generally speaking, you can leave the computer alone for this process (for systems with a large migration, we like to run this process overnight, when nobody is using the computer).

Note

The one caveat to leaving the migration unattended is if you selected to use a CD or DVD burner for your storage, you will be regularly prompted to insert a new blank disk when the existing one is full. As you do, remember to label, tag, and mark the disks, and keep them in order—this will become important when you reinstall the application archive.

17.
When PC Relocator is done creating your application archive, follow the prompts and exit the program.

18.
Before doing anything else, verify that the application archive was, in fact, correctly created.

  • If you are using an external disk, check that external disk and make sure that an archive file, with the name you gave it in step 7, actually exists.

  • If you are using CD/DVD ROMs, load the first disk and then browse to it and make sure that an archive file with the correct name from step 6 exists on the CD or DVD. You might want to check one or two other disks as well, if you have multiple disks, to make sure that the subsequent archives were correctly created.

After you have created and verified the application archive, you are ready to install Windows 7.

Task 3: Install Windows 7 and Antivirus Software

This task is the most irreversible step in the entire process. The reason is that when you install Windows 7, you will have effectively destroyed your old system installation. This is why you need to take such pains in creating and verifying the application archive before proceeding to this task.


If you used an external drive to hold your application archive, you should detach it while you install Windows 7. Reattach the drive at the end of this task, after you have installed Windows 7 and your security software (such as Norton or other antivirus, antispyware, and firewall software). At a minimum, you should make sure that Microsoft’s built-in firewall is activated.

After you have so installed Windows 7 and your security software, you need to deal with three more items:

  • Configure your computer so your Internet connection is working properly.

  • If you did not install Windows updates during the installation of Windows 7, go to http://update.microsoft.com/ and make sure that your computer has all necessary updates and patches.

  • Install your chosen security software. If you are using third-party software, install that now, then activate it, and follow the instructions to make sure that you have the latest antivirus definitions. If you are using Microsoft’s security software, make sure that it is fully activated and that it has the latest definitions. 

At the end of this process, you will probably be asked to restart your computer, perhaps several times.

Task 4: Install the Migration Software Under Windows 7

As in Task 1, this task involves running the installer for your migration software. Now you are going to reinstall it under your new Windows 7 installation so that you can use it to install your application archive. In our case, follow these steps:

1.
Place the PC Relocator CD in the system’s CD- or DVD-ROM drive.

2.
Run the Auto Installer.

3.
Answer the installer’s prompts as they come up.

Task 5: Use Migration Software to Install Your Application/Data Archive

Now we can get started with the other end of the migration process. If you are using an external drive, verify that it is hooked up to your computer and that the computer can recognize the data on the hard drive. If you are using CD or DVD discs, check several of the discs to make sure that your new system can read them. When you are ready to start, follow these steps:

1.
Quit any other programs that you are running before starting PC Relocator.

2.
Look for the PC Relocator Ultra Control icon on your desktop or wherever the program is installed on your hard drive, and double-click it.

3.
Bypass the Retrieve the Most Current Version option,  by clicking the Next button.

4.
You are prompted to close any open applications before performing the migration. Allow PC Relocator to shut off these other programs, if you have not already done so.

5.
You are asked if this is your old computer or your new one (as shown in Figure 13). Select New PC, and then click Next.

Figure 13. Because you are installing the application on your newly minted Windows 7 computer, choose New PC.

6.
Now you need to select your transfer method. Select the CD/DVD or Other High Capacity Storage option, and then click Next.

7.
If you are using an external hard disk, browse to the location of your application archive file and select it. If you are using CD/DVD discs, place the first disc in the drive and then browse on that disc to the application archive file. In either case, after you have selected the application archive file, click Next.

8.
At this point, the migration software takes over, migrating and installing your applications automatically. Just sit back and relax.

9.
Once your application migration is complete, a report is generated showing what applications were migrated successfully and where you might have issues. You should review that report to verify that all of the applications and data that matter to you have been properly migrated.

Note

If an important application doesn’t migrate properly, your best bet is to try a direct re-installation of the application. Generally speaking, if the application migration software can’t get it to work right, then you’ll need the original installer to resolve the problem.


Note

Also, depending on the software package, you might be required to re-enter the license key for your software. This is done to validate your software licensing and to bind the license key to the computer you are now using.

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