Files and application settings can be migrated to new hardware running Windows® 7, or they can be maintained during an operating system upgrade on the same computer. This topic summarizes the Microsoft® tools you can use to move files and settings between installations, as well as special considerations for performing an upgrade or migration.

Upgrade from a Previous Version of Windows

You can upgrade from Windows Vista® with Service Pack 1 to Windows 7, which means you can install Windows 7 and retain your applications, files, and settings as they were in your previous version of Windows. If you choose to do a custom install of Windows 7 from Windows Vista instead of an upgrade, your applications and settings will not be maintained. Your personal files, and all Windows files and directories, will be moved to a Windows.old folder. You can access your data in the Windows.old folder after Windows Setup completes.

If you want to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7, you will need to perform a custom installation of Windows 7 and then migrate your files and settings from Windows XP. Using the Windows Easy Transfer tool, you can save all of your files and settings by copying them to another hard drive, a network share, or other storage device before installing Windows 7. After the installation is complete, Windows Easy Transfer will reload your files and settings on your upgraded computer. You will then need to reinstall your applications.

For more information about using Windows Easy Transfer with a custom install, for instance when upgrading from Windows XP, see this Microsoft Web site.

Migrate Files and Settings

Migration tools are available to transfer settings from one computer running Windows to another. These tools transfer only the program settings, not the programs themselves. For more information about installing applications, see Understanding Application Preinstallation.

For more information about application compatibility, see the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT) at this Microsoft Web site.

The Windows® User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 is a Microsoft application intended for administrators who are performing large-scale automated deployments. For deployment to a small number of computers or for individually customized deployments, you can use Windows Easy Transfer.

Migrate with Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer is a software wizard for transferring files and settings from one computer running Windows to another. You can transfer files and settings from a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 to another computer running Windows 7. The Windows Easy Transfer application helps you choose what to move to your new computer, enables you to set which migration method to use, and then performs the transfer. When the transfer is done, Windows Easy Transfer Reports shows you what was transferred and provides a list of programs you might want to install on your new computer, as well as links to other programs you might want to download.

With Windows Easy Transfer, files and settings can be transferred using a network share, a USB flash drive (UFD), or the Easy Transfer cable. However, you cannot use a regular universal serial bus (USB) cable to transfer files and settings with Windows Easy Transfer. An Easy Transfer cable can be purchased on the Web, from your computer manufacturer, or at an electronics store.

Migrate with the User State Migration Tool

You can use User State Migration Tool (USMT) 4.0 to automate migration during large deployments of the Windows 7 operating system. USMT uses configurable migration rule (.xml) files to control exactly which user accounts, user files, operating system settings, and application settings are migrated and how they are migrated. You can use USMT for both side-by-side migrations, where one piece of hardware is being replaced, or wipe-and-load (or refresh) migrations, when only the operating system is being upgraded.

For more information about the User State Migration Tool, see the User State Migration Tool 4.0 (USMT.chm) Help documentation installed with the Windows AIK.

Upgrade and Migration Considerations

Whether you are upgrading or migrating to Windows 7, you must be aware of the following issues and considerations:

Application Compatibility

For more information about application compatibility in Windows 7, see the Application Compatibility Toolkit (ACT).

Multilingual Windows Image Upgrades

When performing multilingual Windows upgrades, cross-language upgrades are not supported by USMT. If you are upgrading or migrating an operating system with multiple language packs installed, you can upgrade or migrate only to the system default user interface (UI) language. For example, if English is the default but you have a Spanish language pack installed, you can upgrade or migrate only to Windows 7 English.

If you are using a single-language Windows image that matches the system default UI language of your multilingual operating system, the migration will work. However, all of the language packs will be removed, and you will need to reinstall them after the upgrade completes.


When upgrading to Windows 7 from an earlier version of Windows, if you intend to use Errorhandler.cmd, you must copy this file into the %WINDIR%\Setup\Scripts directory on the old installation. This ensures that if there are errors during the downlevel phase of Windows Setup, the commands in Errorhandler.cmd will run.

For more information about Errorhandler.cmd, see Add a Custom Script to Windows Setup

Data Drive ACL Migration

During the specialize configuration pass of Windows Setup, the root access control list (ACL) on drives formatted for NTFS that do not appear to have an operating system will be changed to the default Windows XP ACL format. The ACLs on these drives are changed to enable Authenticated Users to modify access on folders and files.

Changing the ACLs may affect the performance of Windows Setup in cases where the default Windows XP ACLs are applied to a partition with a large amount of data. Because of these performance concerns, you can change the following registry value to disable this feature:

Key: HKLM\System\Setup
Value: "DDACLSys_Disabled" = 1

This feature is disabled if this registry key value exists and is configured to 1.

See Also