Transferring your personalized data, system settings, and applications from Windows 7 to Windows 8 is surprisingly easy, depending on which solution(s) you plan on using. The first method that we’ll cover has a few steps that require some memorization, but as long as you have at least a basic understanding of how to transfer data to an external drive, you should be fine. While this method does have quite a few steps, it costs nothing, since we’re using built-in Windows components.
After you’ve logged in, use Windows 7 Start Search for “Windows Easy Transfer”. This is a built-in utility that is included with Windows Vista, 7, and 8. Do keep in mind that even though Windows 8 hasn’t been released commercially, at least for now, the Windows 8 version of Easy Transfer works as described.
Once you’ve launched Windows Easy Transfer, you’re presented with three options. The first is using a transfer cable, which can be picked up at most major retailers that carry computer electronics and accessories. While this first option might seem pretty easy, it’s really unnecessary if you have an external drive with a large enough capacity to save what you plan on transferring. You can also perform the transfer using a network connection between the two computers. The best option is to use an external drive.
After clicking the option to transfer to an external hard drive, you’ll be presented with options that will allow you to make general selections of what you would like transferred (documents, movies, pictures, etc), along with an advanced option to save specific folders and parts of the directory structure. After you finish making the selection, you will be prompted to create a password, thus ensuring that the data you’re going to be transferring will be secure. If you don’t plan on leaving the confines of the room that you’re in, and aren’t really concerned about covert infiltration, you can leave the passwords blank, and ignore this feature. From here, all we have to do is wait for the data to transfer to the external hard drive.
After the initial data transfer is done, unplug the external drive and plug it into the computer with Windows 8. Once the drive is recognized, use Search Apps for “easy transfer”. Almost the same steps are involved, except you’ll want to select “This is my new computer”. Once you select the migration file, Windows Easy Transfer handles the rest. If you chose to transfer applications, if there are any that couldn’t be transferred, Windows Easy Transfer will tell you which ones you need to download and reinstall. While this method of transferring Windows 7 to Windows 8 may seem a bit complicated, keep in mind that it’s free, and you won’t really be spending any money if you already have the necessary equipment at hand.
The second method is a lot easier, but it does cost money. Laplink’s PCMover is an application that automates the process of transferring the settings, applications and files from your old PC to your new PC. There are several versions of PCMover available, however you’ll want to purchase the “Home” version or higher in order to directly transfer from one PC to the other using a data transfer cable. The Home version is the cheapest of the viable packages, starting at $39.95 USD, and ending at the Professional ($59.95). The Business/Enterprise version is for those who have a network of computers that need to be worked with in order to perform the transfer.
After purchasing and installing PCMover on both computers, simply connect them with a transfer cable (which comes for free with the boxed package of PCMover for those willing to wait), or a network connection and you’ll be on your way. Depending on how much data is being transferred, it could take a while, but generally the wait time is fairly short. There is also an “undo” feature present with Laplink’s PC mover that will allow the user to undo any upgrade/migration/transfer in the even that the transfer isn’t successful, or they simply want to undo it. Either of the above methods work, and usually prove to be the most effective.