We recommend using Windows Easy Transfer, a free download, to help you move your files and settings to another location before you install Windows 7. Then, you can use Windows Easy Transfer again to move your files and settings back to your PC after Windows installation is completed.
If you don't use Windows Easy Transfer, you’ll need to copy your files to an external location, such as CDs, DVDs, an external hard disk, or a USB flash drive before installing Windows 7, and then move them back after Windows installation is completed.
Windows Easy Transfer creates a single file containing your files and settings. The file could be quite large depending on the amount of data you have, which is why we recommend using an external hard disk.
As you prepare to move your files off of your computer to an external storage device, remember the following:
Windows Easy Transfer doesn't move your programs, only your files and settings. You'll need to reinstall your programs by hand after Windows 7 installation is complete. Windows Easy Transfer will provide you with a list of programs that you are currently using with Windows Vista.
Windows Easy Transfer can't transfer files from a 64-bit version of Windows to a 32-bit version of Windows. If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, but you plan to install a 32-bit version of Windows 7, you can move your files to an external location manually or use Backup and Restore in Windows Vista. For more information about backing up files in Windows Vista, see Back up your files.
Windows Easy Transfer moves your music and video files, but doesn't migrate the licenses for content protected by digital rights management (DRM). This means that you'll need to re-obtain rights to DRM‑protected files from the online store that provided them after you finish installing Windows 7 and restoring these files to your computer. For more information, see Step 4: Moving your files and settings back to your computer.
Some online stores don't restore rights to their DRM‑protected files. For details about store policies, refer to your store's customer support or Help information. If your music or video was obtained from a store that's no longer in business, you won't be able to restore your rights to that content.
Download Windows Easy Transfer
from the Windows website. If you're running a 32-bit version of Windows Vista, under
For Windows Vista, click Download 32-bit. If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows Vista, click Download 64-bit.
On the Microsoft Download Center webpage, click Download, and then click Open. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Click OK to install the update.
If you accept the license terms, click I Accept.
After installation is complete, click Close.
Make sure your external hard disk or other storage device is connected to your computer.
Click the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Easy Transfer 7.
Select An external hard disk or USB flash drive.
Click This is my old computer, and then wait while Windows Easy Transfer scans the computer.
Clear the check boxes next to any user accounts that you don't want to transfer data from, and then click Next.
Enter and retype a password, and then write it down and keep it in a safe place; or leave the boxes blank, and then click Save.
Browse to the external hard disk or other storage device where you want to save your Easy Transfer file, and then click Save.
You must save the Easy Transfer file to your external hard disk or other storage device, and not to the default location Computer. If you don't save the Easy Transfer file to your external hard disk, the file you just created will be deleted during the custom installation of Windows 7.
Windows Easy Transfer will begin saving your files and settings. Do not use your computer during this time.
When you see the message These files and settings have been saved for your transfer, click Next.
Windows Easy Transfer displays the file name and location of the Easy Transfer file you just created. Write down the file name and location so you can easily find it when you're ready to transfer files to Windows 7.
Click Next, and then click Close.
Make sure that the file is saved to your external hard disk or storage device, and then disconnect the device from your computer.
It's important to remember that the Custom installation option doesn't preserve any of your programs, so you'll need to reinstall the programs that you want to use in Windows 7.
Make sure you have the installation discs for the programs you want to keep using in Windows 7.
You might have downloaded some programs from the Internet. If you still have the installation files on your computer (often called setup.exe, install.exe, or similar), copy those setup files to your external hard disk as well. If you don't have the installation files, you'll need to download them again after Windows 7 installation is completed.
If you're running a 64-bit version of Windows and plan to install a 32-bit version of Windows 7, programs that were designed to run only on a 64-bit operating system might not work. Check the software manufacturer's website for more information, or go to the Windows 7 Compatibility Center. You can search the Compatibility Center for product names or browse many different categories of hardware and software tested to be compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7.
Next: Install Windows 7 using the Custom option.
Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor
Getting started with Windows 7
Know what works: Windows 7 Compatibility Center