Using Windows Vista Easy Transfer

For those of you buying Windows Vista PCs today (or thinking about buying Windows Vista PCs in the future) and wondering how best to move all the information on your old PC to your new one, I'd like to update you on some of the new ways Windows can help transfer all your personal stuff: documents, photos, music, email, address book entries, Windows settings, and now, even programs.

The good news is that we've made this process much easier for the millions of people who will buy Windows Vista-based PCs in the coming years. Read on to see how we designed Windows Vista's transfer features to work together with special cables from hardware partners, and to learn about the beta release of our new tool for transferring programs, based on the Alohabob PC Relocator software we acquired last year.

Windows Easy Transfer

This wizard is built into Windows Vista and will automatically transfer your personal data from a Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows Vista based-PC to a Windows Vista-based PC. It gathers up the data from your old PC and then applies it on your new PC in the right places. It will move user accounts, files and folders, email messages and settings, address book entries, and Windows settings. It does not move programs.

Windows Easy Transfer supports a number of ways to connect the two PCs to actually move the data:

  • Easy Transfer Cable (more info below)
  • Home or small business network
  • Removable or external hard drive
  • Writable CD or DVD


Easy Transfer Cables

In the past, one of the most difficult parts about the transfer process has been connecting the two computers if you don't have a home network. Fortunately, we've worked with hardware partners to create a really cool new product called Easy Transfer Cables. These are specially designed to work together with Easy Transfer to move all your data in the easiest and fastest way possible.


They're USB 2.0 cables with a special chip that enables them to connect two PCs. (A standard USB cable cannot do this, even if the USB connectors fit). The cable will come with a CD which has the Easy Transfer software on it -- you just install it on your Windows XP-based PC and then plug the cable into both PCs. That's it! The Easy Transfer wizard will popup automatically on both PCs and you can begin transferring right away.

These cables are being manufactured worldwide by a number of partners, including Belkin International, Vivanco Group AG and Bafo Technologies. They will be sold at retail stores, online retailers and from PC manufacturers. Look for the Certified for Windows Vista or Works with Windows Vista logo to know that the cable is supported.

Windows Easy Transfer Companion (Beta)

Although the standard Easy Transfer wizard does not move installed programs, this is a very important capability that's been requested by our customers. Because of this we have been working on a new tool called Easy Transfer Companion, which will transfer programs and program settings from a Windows XP-based PC to a Windows Vista-based PC. When used together with Easy Transfer, you will be able to move everything you need to your new PC running Windows Vista. Easy Transfer Companion has been designed to transfer many of the most popular programs for consumers and small businesses, as well as many others. You can transfer programs with either an Easy Transfer Cable or a network. We've released the tool in Beta so that we can take feedback on the overall functionality and get more information about the experience of transferring specific applications outside of those that we've tested internally. At this point the Easy Transfer Companion is only available in English and designed for use in the US. It is available for download here.

Easy Transfer Companion is based on technology we acquired from Apptimum, Inc. last year -- makers of the popular Alohabob PC Relocator software. For reference, here is the original press release on this acquisition.

Because this tool is in Beta, at the end of the transfer process it will ask for your feedback on how well it worked so we can continue improving its performance and bring it to a wider number of users in the future.


I hope these features help you and your family quickly and easily set up your new Windows Vista-based PC.

Restore Files from a Windows XP .BKF file in Vista

1) create a folder somewhere, call it ntbackup just so you can keep track of
what you’ve done
2) from an existing XP installation, copy these 3 files into the new folder:
ntbackup.exe, vssapi.dll, ntmsapi.dll. Optionally, copy the files
ntbackup.chm and ntbackup.hlp. Do not overwrite any Vista files that have
the same names.
3) run ntbackup.exe. dismiss the error dialog concerning removable storage
if it appears.
4) catalog the backup file as you normally would (select the Restore tab,
then select Tools/Catalog) then select and restore your files. Remember to
restore them to an alternate location using the drop-down box in the
lower-left corner of ntbackup.

If you don’t have a running XP installation, then extract the listed files
from the XP installation CD. If you don’t know where these files are, you
can use search to find them; they will have the same filename except the last
character will be an underscore (e.g., ntbackup.exe will be ntbackup.ex_ on
the CD). i have not done an exhaustive search of every version of XP’s
installation CD to determine their locations.

Since you are (presumably) not running as an administrator under Vista as
you probably were under XP,
1) some extraneous errors may occur during the restore. check the results
of the restore to ensure that you got all the files you needed from the
backup, and apply the appropriate security settings to the restored files
manually if necessary
2) You might need to turn off the option to restore file security. (Hit the
“Advanced” button in the restore dialog).

ntbackup also appears to work for backing up files, but I wouldn’t trust it
to do so correctly without extensive testing.

Run a Program that Doesn’t Recognize Vista

Lots of apps check the operating system during installation to make sure the version of Windows is supported. This is designed to prevent the user from installing it in an old version of Windows that doesn’t have the necessary files or features. Sometimes, however, it’ll also block a new version of Windows–such as Windows Vista.

Fortunately, you can configure a program to run in compatibility mode, which causes Windows Vista to lie about the version of Windows. To trick a program (usually a Setup file) into thinking you’ve got Windows XP, follow these steps:

1. Right-click the program and then click Properties.

2. Click the Compatibility tab.

3. Select the Run this program in compatibility mode for check box. Then, select Windows XP (Service Pack 2) from the list.

4. Select the Run this program as an administrator check box (just to help further reduce compatibility problems).

4. Click OK.

Now, re-run the program. It should work this time.


Trace Application Activity with Process Monitor (ProcMon.exe)

Sometimes, an application gives you a generic error that a file or setting is missing or unavailable, but doesn’t give you enough information to identify exactly what it’s trying to open. With this free download from Microsoft, Process Monitor, you can monitor all activity on your computer, including the exact registry keys and files being accessed, and whether or not each access attempt was successful.

Process Monitor replaces FileMon and RegMon (tools made by the SysInternals guys, who are now part of Microsoft) by duplicating the functionality of each. To use it, follow these steps:

1. Download Process Monitor and extract the .ZIP file to a folder.

2. Double-click the ProcMon.exe file to run it. It doesn’t add a shortcut to the Start menu, but you can manually add one.

3. Run the application that’s having a problem, and duplicate the error.

4. Return to Process Monitor. Click the File menu, and then clear the Capture Events check box.

5. Browse the list of events. Right-click any entry with your process name, click Include, and then click Process Name. Now, you can easily see the events that your application created.

6. Look for events with a result other than SUCCESS. To hide the success events, right-click any successful event, click Exclude, and then click Result. Process Monitor shows just those events that had problems.


7. Once you determine the registry key or file that can’t be accessed, replace it (you might copy it from another computer) or, if it’s a security problem, change the permissions so that your application can access it.

If you continue to have problems, you might have more than one unavailable resource. Just repeat these steps to solve the additional problems.