I’m switching from my 10-year-old Windows XP desktop to my new Dell laptop
with Windows 7 Pro and XP mode. I’ve read your instructions on how to find and
transfer my OE email files and address book. What is the best to way transfer
all of my data documents and program files from my old machine to my new
virtual machine? What else besides My Documents and program files should I
transfer to end up with more and less what I knew and loved on my old
In this excerpt from
Answercast #63, I discuss transferring one computer system over to
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Transferring files and programs
The data files are simple.
My Documents might be one case where I would not just copy the entire
folder; I would actually carefully examine what’s in that folder and copy over
the files that you recognize and that you need.
Programs need installation
Programs are more problematic.
You cannot just copy over program files. Windows doesn’t work that way. That
will fail to copy all sorts of important settings and other things that may
have been installed when the program was set up. The only reliable way to
transfer programs from one computer to another is to reinstall them on the new
What that means is that you’ll want to reinstall them on your Windows XP
mode machine from the original installation media or the original downloads
that you (hopefully) have saved.
Data and programs are different
Data files are easy. Like I said, just copy over the files that you know that
you need. But the programs are an entirely different ball of wax.
I would strongly suggest that you make sure you’ve got a good inventory of
the programs that you want and have the original installation media for all of
those programs, including any product keys or unlock codes to activate the
product once it’s installed.