Upgrading from XP to Windows 7

Dear Computer Lady,

After getting your emails for several years now, I have a predicament I haven’t seen yet.

My wife’s computer “bit the dust” so to speak. I did religiously have her HD backed up. My problem is her new computer has Win 7 Home Premium, and her old one had XP.

How can I get her files onto her new computer? Will I have to reinstall all her programs?

Many thanks in advance from me and all the folks you have “saved” from going batty.



Dear Pete,

I am glad to hear that you have been backing up the files! So many people mean to backup, but never get around to it.

You will have to reinstall all her programs. The only way a backup would save you from having to reinstall programs would be if it was a full hard drive image, and you were putting the image back on the exact same computer.

Since you are transferring her files to a new computer, you will need to install the programs. While most of your programs should work in the new Windows 7 computer, some of them might need an upgraded version, and if your printer is as old as the XP computer, you might have to get yourself a new printer.

Once you have installed your programs, just access your backup files (you didn’t mention what kind of backup it is, so I can’t tell you how to access them) and copy the documents, pictures, music and other data folders to the new computer.


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    • ron007
    • January 7, 2012

    As you say “backups are good!”

    The programs will have to be installed from their source CD/DVD’s or installation files. They cannot simply be “copied” or restored back from the XP backup onto Win7.

    Again, as you say it depends on the type of backup. If the backup is simply copying files to a new location (external drive) then all you have to do is copy them back.

    If the backup is an image type backup, it will take a little more work. “Better” backup tools allow you to create an “Emergency Disk” with a copy of the program on a bootable CD/DVD that allows you to use the DVD to restore to a crashed HD. As well, they will allow you to access/copy individual files without doing a restore. This allows you to copy individual files from the backup to the new installation.

    Some virtualization tools will allow you to “mount” backups as virtual drives, again, allowing you to copy the required data files to your new HD.

    Another option is partitioning the new drive. Most new machines come with relatively HUGE HD’s, 500GB and more. Windows needs 20-30 GB and the apps about the same. The rest is unused in a new computer. It is easy with Win7 disk management tools to create a partition on the HD that is large enough to allow you recover the old XP installation into. Then you can copy the data files to the “C:” drive and finally eliminate the partition and the old backup.

    Actually, keeping the partition is a better idea after reformatting the “D:” to get rid of the no longer needed old installation. Relocating all of your personal data files on the separate “D:” drive, including the desktop, documents, pictures, favorites (etc) folders gives you flexibility. When it is time to, inevitably, re-install Windows you don’t have to worry about losing all of your personal data files at the same time.

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