Upgrade Without Losing Data And Settings

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2005
Upgrade Without Losing Data And Settings
Something we all want. We hunt for the best deal and finally decide to go ahead with that upgrade when we are struck by a thought that could well be upgrade-altering!

"How will I back-up and restore all the settings from my present OS version to the new installation or from this PC to another?" So many settings, so much data-e-mails, Internet favourites, downloads...how? The mere thought can give you goosebumps!

Fear not, for there are ways and means to archive critical data and retrieve it as easily. We tell you here how to migrate files and settings between Windows XP PCs. Let's consider a scenario in which you wish to re-install Windows XP.

Method 1: Using The 'Files And Settings Transfer' Wizard
Windows XP comes loaded with the 'Files and Settings Transfer Wizard' utility, which helps transfer important files and settings from an old PC to a new one. The transferred files and settings include 'Appearance', which contains  wallpapers, colours, sounds, fonts and location of the taskbar; 'Accessibility Settings,' 'Internet Settings' which includes your favourites, proxy and security settings, cookies, dial-up settings, homepage, Outlook Express mail and settings and My Documents.

Backing Up Files And Settings
Click Start>All Programs>Accessories> System Tools>Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. Click 'Next' in the first dialog box that opens. Since you wish to first back up your files and settings, select 'Old Computer' and click Next. Now, select the method of transfer-which includes 'Direct Cable,' 'Home or Small Office Network,' 'Floppy Drive or Removable Media' and 'Other.' We shall select the 'Other' method. Enter a location on a drive where you don't have your data and click Next. You can opt to export 'Settings Only,' 'Files Only' or both or customise your selection. Clicking 'Next' one last time will transfer your settings and files to the selected location.

Restoring Files And Settings
After re-installing Windows XP, start the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard as before, but this time select 'New Computer.' Select the last option-"I don't need a Wizard Disk," as you have created a backup of the old Windows settings. On the next page, select the option 'Other' and point to the location where the backup is placed. Wait for some time for the files and settings to be restored. Finish this operation and log off for all settings to take effect.

Method 2: Manually Transferring Files And Settings
This is for adventurous techies! Make a checklist of the files you want to back-up-My Documents, Outlook, E-Mail Settings etc. We look at each one step by step. To start with, make a new folder on a drive where Windows does not reside. All your settings and files must be stored in this folder, henceforth to be called the 'Backup Folder.'

My Documents
Click Start>Run. Enter '%USERPROFILE%' and click OK. Copy 'My Documents' in the Explorer window to the Backup Folder.

To restore 'My Documents', click on Start, run '%USERPROFILE%' and copy 'My Documents' from the Backup Folder to the location opened in Windows Explorer. This time, you will have to overwrite the folder.

Outlook data comprises files with the .pst extension for personal folders, .ost for offline storage, .pab for the address book, .rwz for rules and .nick, .nk2 for nicknames for AutoComplete. Additional files include .dat for Toolbar and Menu settings, .fav for Favorites, and so on.

To backup data from Outlook, create a folder in the Backup Folder and close Outlook. Click on Start>Run. Enter '%APPDATA% MicrosoftOutlook'. Copy all files with the above extensions to the folder created earlier. Repeat the above steps for the path '%USERPROFILELocal SettingsApplication DataMicrosoft Outlook'.  It's better to store the files from each of these folders separately in the folder created in the Backup Folder.

Outlook Express
To back-up the Address book, click 'File', then 'Export' and then 'Address Book'. Choose 'Text File' and select 'Export.' Choose a filename to save the file in the e-mail Backup Folder. Select the fields you would like to export. To restore the address book, import the text file you saved into Outlook Express.

To back-up your E-mail settings, click 'Tools' followed by 'Accounts'. Now choose the account from the list and click on 'Export' to save it to the e-mail Backup Folder. The e-mail settings can be restored to the new computer in a similar manner.

To backup your e-mails, you must find the e-mail store folder. Click on Tools>Options and then the 'Maintenance' tab. Click on the 'Store Folder' button, and note the location where your e-mail is stored.

Close Outlook Express, navigate to this folder in Windows Explorer and copy all the files in it to the E-mail Backup Folder. To restore your e-mails, click File>Import> Messages. Select Microsoft Outlook Express 6 (OE6) and click Next. Select 'Import mail from an OE6 store directory' and enter the e-mail backup folder path in the dialog box. Now select the folder you wish to import to and click OK.

Favorites And Cookies
You need to create a folder for storing Favorites and Cookies in the Backup Folder. Open IE, click File>Import and Export and click 'Next'. Now select 'Export Favorites' and select the backup folder you created. The Favorites will be saved as a .htm file. Favorites can be imported in a similar way, and so can Cookies.

Good Practices 
Following some good practices makes life easier. Organising folders in a convenient way will help reduce the hassles of backing up your data. Here are some methods.
Relocate the 'My Documents' folder to a drive on which Windows is not installed. Open Windows Explorer, right-click on 'My Documents' and click on 'Properties'. In the dialog box next to 'Target,' enter a path to a folder on the drive of your choice.

Changing the My Documents location

From now on, this new folder is your 'My Documents' folder. Use sub-folders within this store all your data, be it e-mails or documents.
Similarly, the Outlook Express mail store folder can be relocated. In Outlook Express, click on Tools>Options>Maintenance. Click on the 'Store Folder' button and select 'Change'. Now point to a folder of your choice and click OK. All future mails will be saved to this folder.

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