Where are my files and folders after upgrading from Windows XP or Windows Vista?

If you recently upgraded your computer to Windows 7 from a previous version of Windows, and you're having trouble finding the files from your previous version of Windows, you might still be able to access your old files depending on how you upgraded your computer.

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Where are my files after upgrading?

It depends on the way you upgraded your computer to Windows 7. Use the following table to determine where your files might be.

If you upgraded from
And you chose this option during installation
Then your files are

Windows Vista

Upgrade

In the same general locations that they were before you upgraded.

Windows XP or Windows Vista

Custom, without reformatting your drive or partition

Stored in a folder called Windows.old. To learn how to access files in the Windows.old folder, see the "How do I retrieve files from the Windows.old folder?" section below.

Windows XP or Windows Vista

Custom, and you reformatted your drive or partition

Deleted. When you reformat a drive or partition, all the information is deleted and can't be recovered.

How do I retrieve files from the Windows.old folder?

If you upgraded your computer from Windows XP or Windows Vista and didn't reformat your hard drive during installation, you should be able to retrieve your files from the Windows.old folder.

  1. Click the Start button Picture of the Start button , and then click Computer.
  2. Double-click the drive that Windows is installed on (typically, the C: drive).

  3. Double-click the Windows.old folder.

  4. Double-click the Users folder.

  5. Double-click your user name.

  6. Open the folders that contain the files you want to retrieve. For example, to retrieve files in the Documents folder, double-click Documents.

  7. Copy and paste the files that you want from each folder to a folder in Windows 7.

    For example, if you want to retrieve everything from the Documents folder, copy all the files and folders, and then paste them into the Documents library in Windows 7.

  8. Repeat steps 5-7 for each user account on your computer.

Notes

  • We recommend that you back up your files to an external location before upgrading your computer, especially if you have encrypted files on your computer. For more information, see Back up your files.

  • Once you're sure you have everything you need from the Windows.old folder, you can delete it to reclaim space on your computer. For more information, see How do I remove the Windows.old folder?

Where do I find common folders in Windows 7?

In general, Windows 7 has a similar folder structure to Windows Vista. However, you'll notice some differences. For example, you'll access most of your files using libraries rather than folders. Libraries gather files from different locations and display them all in one place. For more information about libraries, see Working with libraries.

The folder structure in Windows XP, on the other hand, is quite different from the folder structure in Windows Vista or Windows 7. Use the following table to compare common folder names and paths across all three versions of Windows.

Folder name (and path) in Windows XP
Folder name (and path) in Windows Vista
Folder name (and path) in Windows 7

Documents and Settings (C:\Documents and Settings)

Users (C:\Users)

Users (C:\Users)

My Documents (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\My Documents)

Documents (C:\Users\user name\Documents)

My Documents (C:\Users\user name\Documents)

My Pictures (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\My Documents\My Pictures)

Pictures (C:\Users\user name\Pictures)

My Pictures (C:\Users\user name\Pictures)

My Music (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\My Documents\My Music)

Music (C:\Users\user name\Music)

My Music (C:\Users\user name\Music)

My Videos (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\My Documents\My Videos)

Videos (C:\Users\user name\Videos)

My Videos (C:\Users\user name\Videos)

Desktop (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Desktop)

Desktop (C:\Users\user name\Desktop)

Desktop (C:\Users\user name\Desktop)

Local Settings (C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Local Settings)

Local (C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local)

Local (C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local)

Note

  • The Local folder in Windows 7 contains program files that you shouldn't need to access regularly, and it's hidden by default. To learn how to make it visible, see Show hidden files.