First of all, good on you for backing up. Like I’ve told many people, that puts you ahead of something like 90% of the people out there, so that’s fantastic. I love to see people using backup tools and backing up regularly.
Now to the question of whether you can use your Windows XP backup on Windows 8.
Kind of. Maybe. It depends on how you expect to use it.
Working on Windows 8
I want to be clear: Macrium Reflect works on Windows 8. It may very well be the same version, or you may need to pick up the 64-bit version if the new machine turns out to be running 64 bit Windows.
I think what you’re really asking is “Will the backups I’ve taken under Windows XP be useful as I transition to my new machine?”
The answer here is yes and no, but mostly no.
Using image backups moving to a new system
Image backups cannot typically be used to transfer an installed operating system from one machine to another. That’s not what backups are for. The problem is that the image contains Windows, its drivers and its settings that are all specifically configured for the machine that you’re backing up. The chances are that those drivers and those settings are all wrong for your new hardware.
There are some programs and utilities that will attempt to fix that by locating updated drivers during the restore. I believe one of Macrium’s backup products actually already includes this as part of the package.
But further complicating this is that with your specific scenario, it’s possible, even likely, that there aren’t all of the Windows XP drivers you might need for the new hardware you might purchase today.
This isn’t what backups are for
And I have to stress again, this isn’t what backups are for. Backups are not for moving complete installations from one machine to another, especially when those machines are different.
Backups are not for moving complete installations from one machine to another, especially when those machines are different.
They’re for restoring a complete installation back on to the same machine. For when your hard drive fails, which happens much more often than people realize. For when malware attacks so badly that starting over is the right way to clean it up. Image backups are perfect for those kind of scenarios. And you’ll be really, really glad that you have them if and when those things happen.
Even though you can’t use your backup to transfer your Windows XP to your new hardware, the backup itself could still be useful with your new machine.
After you’ve set up Windows 8 and installed all of the software that you’re going to use on your new machine, then your backup can be a convenient place from which to get your data files.
We often transfer data files manually some other way. We’ll copy all of our data files, all of our documents, all of our whatevers to an external drive or to a USB drive, and then we’ll recopy them on to the new machine. That’s fine. That works great. Even then and particularly then, when you think you’ve got everything copied over, your image backup of that old machine can be a great way to recover the files that you forgot to copy in the first place.