Switch to a new PC the easy as 123

Posted: June 5, 2010 in HowTo, Microsoft, Vista, Windows 7
Tags: , , , ,

There’s a little-known feature in Windows Vista & windows 7 which can make the normally painful process of moving to a new PC ridiculously easy. What’s more, it can also serve as a powerful backup tool, which could save your data from the unthinkable should a major crash or disc corruption occur, offering total peace of mind.

While the standard backup facility in Windows Vista & windows 7 is fairly limited, this tool enables you to back up your choice of files and folders, settings, favourites, emails and more. It only takes a few clicks, and there’s no need to install anything because you have the program already – it’s Windows Easy Transfer.

Yes, it’s designed to transfer your file settings from one PC to another. But Windows Easy Transfer can also be used as a backup tool, enabling you to save important data, then restore it on the same system after a data disaster. Is it the best choice for you, though? There are a few issues, so keep reading.

It’s simple to point Windows Easy Transfer to the files and folders you’d like to back up, but there’s no way to save that information, or schedule the program to run automatically. So if you’re looking to run frequent backups of the same files, you’d be better off with a full-strength backup tool.

You should also beware of potential restoration problems. Windows Easy Transfer stores its data in MIG files, which use a proprietary format that nothing else can read. You can’t restore selected files (it’s all or nothing), and if the MIG file gets corrupted, you may not be able to restore anything at all.

This isn’t at all likely to happen, but we still wouldn’t recommend using Windows Easy Transfer to create the only backup of, say, a business database. Even the tiny chance of disaster is too great to make it worth the risk. If you just want to run simple ad hoc backups every month or so, though, Windows Easy Transfer makes a lot more sense. It’s simple to use, available on all Windows Vista & windows 7 PCs and provides a great deal of control over exactly what you can back up.

Back up and restore

If the worst happens and your original data is lost, restoring the backup is very simple. Your first step is to remember that Windows Easy Transfer restores everything it saved, so think whether that might be a problem. If you’ve worked on a spreadsheet since it was backed up, for instance, do you really want to restore the older version? Copy modified files somewhere safe if you think they might be at risk.

Now close any running applications, double-click on your backup file, and Windows Easy Transfer should be launched. It’s not? Then click Start, type MIGWIZ and press Return to start it manually, click Next > Continue a transfer > No, I’ve copied files…, and point the program to your backup file.

You’ll see the settings and files that Windows Easy Transfer is going to restore. If you’re sure this is the right backup, and you don’t mind overwriting existing files and settings, click Transfer. The program reports on everything it’s transferred, and the restoration has finished – click Close and all your old data should be back in place.

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