Transferring files and settings: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about transferring files and settings.

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What is Windows Easy Transfer?

Windows Easy Transfer guides you through the process of transferring files and settings from one Windows computer to another. Using Windows Easy Transfer, you can choose what to transfer to your new computer and how to transfer it. For more information, see Transfer files and settings from another computer and How does Windows Easy Transfer make setting up a computer easier?.

If you're using an administrator account, you can open Windows Easy Transfer:

  • Open Windows Easy Transfer by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Easy Transfer, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Easy Transfer. Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.


  • If you're not using an administrator account, you can't open Windows Easy Transfer.

What can I transfer to my new computer?

You can transfer most files and program settings. Specifically:

  • Files and folders. Everything within the Documents, Music, Pictures, and Shared Documents folders. Using advanced options, you can select additional files and folders to transfer from other locations.

  • E‑mail settings, contacts, and messages.

  • Program settings. Settings that keep your programs configured as you had them on your old computer. Windows Easy Transfer doesn't transfer the programs themselves. Some programs might not work in this version of Windows, including security programs, antivirus programs, firewall programs (your new computer should already have a firewall running to help ensure safety during the transfer), and programs with software drivers.

  • User accounts and settings. Desktop backgrounds, network connections, screen savers, Start menu options, taskbar options, folders, specific files, network printers and drives, and accessibility options.

  • Internet settings and favorites. Internet connection settings, favorites, and cookies.

  • Pictures and video. Pictures—which includes any visual format (for example, .jpg, .bmp, and .gif files)—and personal videos.

  • Music. Electronic music files, playlists, and album art.


    • Windows Easy Transfer moves your music and video files, including files protected by digital rights management (DRM), but it doesn't move the licenses for these types of files. To re-obtain rights to the files, you'll need to contact the provider of the files. Some online stores offer this and might refer to it in different ways, such as computer activation, computer authorization, library restoration, or license synchronization. The procedure for restoring your digital rights varies from store to store. A store might limit the number of times that you can restore your rights, or it might limit the number of computers on which you can use the songs or videos that you've obtained from them. Some stores don't permit you to restore rights to protected files at all. 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.

Can I transfer programs?

No. Windows Easy Transfer transfers only program settings, not the programs themselves. To use the programs from your old computer, install them on your new computer, and then transfer files and settings for those programs. It's possible that some kinds of programs, such as security and antivirus programs, might not work with this version of Windows.

Which transfer method should I use?

There are several choices. Be sure to choose a method that works on both computers. For example, if your computer isn't connected to your network, you can't use a network to transfer files and settings to your new computer.

Easy Transfer Cable

What you'll need: An Easy Transfer Cable and a USB port on each computer.

The Easy Transfer Cable is a specially designed USB cable that connects two computers and works with Windows Easy Transfer to transfer information between the computers. It's one of the easiest ways to transfer files and settings to your new computer. You should always start Windows Easy Transfer on your new computer and plug in the Easy Transfer cable only when you're instructed to do so. Before you plug in the cable on your old computer, be sure to insert the CD that came with it to install the Windows Easy Transfer software and continue the transfer process.

Where to get one: If you didn't buy an Easy Transfer Cable with your computer, you can order one on the web from your computer manufacturer, or get one at an electronics store.


  • A standard USB cable cannot be used to transfer files and settings between computers.


What you'll need: A network with both computers connected to it and the ability to access the same network folders or locations.

Make sure that both computers are connected to the same network. Start Windows Easy Transfer on your new computer (the computer that you want to transfer your files and settings to), and then follow the instructions. The Windows Easy Transfer key acts like a password to help protect files and settings when you transfer them over the network.

USB flash drive or external hard disk

What you'll need: A USB flash drive (this requires a USB port on each computer) or an external hard disk compatible with both computers.

Start Windows Easy Transfer on your new computer (the computer you want to transfer files and settings to), and then follow the instructions for using a USB flash drive or an external hard disk. During the transfer process, Windows Easy Transfer will estimate how much disk space is needed to transfer your selections. If you use a USB flash drive, use one with enough storage space for the entire transfer.

How long does it take?

How fast your files and settings are transferred depends on a few factors:

  • The amount and size of the files and settings you transfer

  • The speed of your computers

  • The transfer method you choose: Easy Transfer Cable, USB flash drive, external hard disk, or networking

Generally, the more you transfer, the more time it takes. The faster the computers and the faster the transfer method (for example, an Easy Transfer Cable or networking for many files, a USB flash drive for fewer files), the faster the transfer will be. But whether the transfer takes a half hour or several hours, it's usually more efficient to use Windows Easy Transfer than to copy everything manually.

Can spyware, viruses, or other types of malicious software be transferred?

Yes. If you transfer files containing malicious software from your old computer, that software can be transferred to your new computer. You should run antivirus and spyware protection programs at all times, especially on your old computer, before you select files to transfer. After you've transferred files to your new computer, run those programs on the new computer to make sure that no malicious software was transferred.

Which versions of Windows will work with Windows Easy Transfer?

You can use Windows Easy Transfer to transfer files and settings from a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 to another computer running Windows 7.


  • Windows Easy Transfer can't transfer files from a 64-bit version of Windows to a 32-bit version of Windows. If you're transferring from a 64-bit version of Windows Vista to a 32-bit version of Windows 7, you can move your files manually, or use Backup and Restore in Windows Vista. For more information, see Back up your files and Restore a backup created on a previous version of Windows on the Windows website. If you're transferring from a 64-bit version of Windows XP, you'll need to move your files manually. For more information about 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows, see 32-bit and 64-bit Windows: frequently asked questions.

Article ID: MSW700003

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