Help me do a brain transplant on my Mom's PC.
November 26, 2007 2:55 PM   Subscribe

How do I move everything from one OEM XP Pro PC to another? Confused by posts I've found.

Mom's PC needs to be replaced. I won't have time during a visit to reinstall everything program by program, etc.
It's not just files, etc. that I'd need to transfer - I'd like to be able to do something magic with a crossover cable and transfer the entire OS, programs, etc.

Things are clean and well configured on the original, so I'm not worried about transferring anything bad. But I can't spend an extra 3 days re-creating all the work I've done to make/keep it that way.

I knew I'd seen some programs for this (Magic PC Transfer Pony or whatever), but most of the reviews I'm finding are bad.

I went trough a bunch of posts here and I'm confused. This is a move from one OEM licensed PC to another OEM licensed PC. Sometimes it seems that's possible, sometimes not? I'd be OK with calling M$ and re-activating or whatever, but not if it's going to end up all wonky.

TrueImage? Ghost? But the hardware will be different - so will that work? Will it work if I do a "Repair Install" ? If so, what's the order of operations - make image of original, copy to new PC, then do a Repair install?

Please help me not cry. If there's a thread that soved this, point me to it - if not, please tell me what worked for you if you've done this.

P.S. why is this so hard to do and/or why is there no software to do it easily? Are we all expected to start over every time we get a new computer?
posted by penciltopper to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"This is a move from one OEM licensed PC to another OEM licensed PC."

So.... you're not moving the OS ?... if thats the case, you wont need to worry about re-activating.

Assuming the hardware (motherboard) is different.. I would NOT do any kind of "ghosting" from one drive to another. YES, its possible.. XP should redetect hardware.. but its never pretty or easy. It may work for you, It may not, even if it does seem to work.. what guarantee do you have the machine will be stable down the road?..

"why is this so hard to do and/or why is there no software to do it easily? Are we all expected to start over every time we get a new computer?"

I assume because every user is unique.. (in so far as where they keep their documents, files and software data/settings)... there is no super-smart-magic-awesome software that is going to scan your entire PC.. find all the things you want to keep and move them.

You can try using the Windows XP "File and Settings Transfer Wizard" (google it,.. I think its on the XP CD)... it will export everything it finds to a file.. you transfer that file to the new PC and Import it. HOWEVER..its not perfect, and you may still end up tracking down certain files/settings that it misses.
posted by jmnugent at 3:26 PM on November 26, 2007

The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard isn't perfect, but the one time I used it, I found it to be really good. It missed a couple of very minor settings, and none of my files. Without getting crazy, it's definitely the best way of doing this.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:36 PM on November 26, 2007

A previous question has your answer:
I want to buy a new computer but don't want to reinstall everything from my old one: how far can ghosting hard drives take me?

The only problem will be activation and licensing, but even that should work fine if the new machine is still XP.

If the new machine has Vista, try to activate on the old machine's key. You might have to talk to a person at Microsoft, in which case you must tell them that the old motherboard is fried, and that this is a repair. You are allowed to repair a motherboard, but you are not allowed to upgrade a motherboard.
posted by Chuckles at 3:47 PM on November 26, 2007

And, just to get the keyword in this thread for future reference, the key step is a repair install.
posted by Chuckles at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2007

"If the new machine has Vista, try to activate on the old machine's key."

I dont know this for sure.. but I would be really surprised if XP install keys and Vista install keys follow the same activation-algorithm. (meaning..I seriously doubt they are interchangeable)

The OP stated : "This is a move from one OEM licensed PC to another OEM licensed PC." So it sounds like licensing and activation wont come into play here (in other words, we're just worried about data and program settings).
posted by jmnugent at 3:58 PM on November 26, 2007

The super easy (but not free) solution: LapLink PC Mover will move programs/documents/settings/users from one computer (XP) to another (XP/Vista). I've done two migrations this way; both have been painless (albeit not as painless as the Mac Migration Assistant). You'll need a copy of the PC Mover software, and a Laplink usb cable.

Or, you can do it the hard way, by using sysprep (and then imaging the old drive to the new drive)...the activation/licensing might be a little headachey, going from one OEM copy to another...I'm not sure.

XP's File and Systems Transfer Wizard only migrates documents and settings, NOT programs.
posted by wearyaswater at 4:46 PM on November 26, 2007

NEVER use file and settings transfer wizard. Ever. You need to be running identical versions of it on both PC's. But certain updates modify the wizard, so it's difficult to know wether you have identical versions. Then it stores all the information in one big nonstandard file, so you can't use any sort of utility to extract your important files if something goes wrong.

Besides, it won't do what you want it to do, as noted above.
posted by thenormshow at 10:42 PM on November 26, 2007

After you move everything I'm pretty sure the key is to do a: XP No-Reformat, Nondestructive Total-Rebuild Option as described here. That should fix everything.
posted by bigmusic at 9:59 PM on November 27, 2007

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