The easy way to transfer everything from Windows 7 to Windows 8

Windows Easy Transfer transfers all your stuff from your old PC to your new PC.

By “transfers all your stuff” I mean that it copies files, folders, photos, favorites, songs, settings, videos, emails, contacts, and user accounts.  It’s built into Windows 7 so you don’t need to download anything.  And everything still remains on your old PC after the transfer completes; Windows Easy Transfer just makes a replica of these items on your new system.

To start transferring files, go to your old PC, the Windows 7 machine, click Start then type Easy Transfer.  The top search result should read Windows Easy Transfer; choose that to open the Easy Transfer Wizard.

Windows 7 comes preinstalled with Easy Transfer. If you’re trying to copy files from Windows Vista or XP then you should download the appropriate Easy Transfer client.
After you’ve installed it, click Next on the introduction screen, to see the three ways you can transfer items to your new computer.

  1. Easy Transfer Cable
  2. Local Area Network
  3. External Drive

Transfer via an Easy Transfer Cable

You can’t just plug a regular USB cable into both computers and start dragging and dropping files; however, a USB Easy Transfer cable, like the popular model made by Belkin, makes it effortless.  In the Easy Transfer Wizard choose Easy Transfer Cable, click Next then choose this is my old computer.

Now, go to your Windows 8 computer, type “easy transfer” and press enter from the Start Screen to launch the transfer wizard.

You’re ready to transfer your stuff.  Connect the transfer cable to both computers and click Next on the old PC to initiate the process.  Also keep in mind this could take a long time depending on how much stuff you need to transfer so plan accordingly.

Windows 7 Easy Transfer Wizard

 

Or transfer via the Local Network

Make sure both the old and new PCs are on the same network.  You can connect both to your home wireless network; however, you’ll probably get faster transfer speeds if both are connected through a hard line.  Plugging an Ethernet cable into both PCs and connecting them them directly to your router or switch will give you the most reliable results.

On your old computer, launch the wizard and choose the network option.  Next tell the wizard this is your old computer and keep this screen visible since you’ll have to enter this transfer key into your new PC.

On your new, Windows 8 PC, enter the words “easy transfer” from the Start Screen.  When the wizard appears, choose the network option and type the six digit Easy Transfer Key that your old computer gave you.

Back on the old computer, Windows starts scanning all your items; this will probably take a few hours so get ready for that.  When it finishes, you’ll notice a new screen showing you what files to transfer. The wizard is very granular, by default it transfers your most common items but if you want to pick exactly what to copy click Advanced Options in the bottom right corner.

Windows 7 Easy Transfer Wizard Network Key

 

Or transfer via an external drive

Lastly, you can copy everything using a portal hard drive or thumbdrive.  The transfer wizard immediately starts scanning all accounts on your local computer (which can can take 5 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your internal hard drive).  Once the scan finishes, you’ll have the option to modify the files to transfer.

Click the blue text labeled Customize to see the total size of each category or click Advanced to pick individual folders.  You can copy virtually anything from your Windows 7 machine (except programs so, for example, you’ll need to re-install Microsoft Office on your new PC), just make sure you have enough space.

Windows 7 Easy Transfer Wizard Choose Files

 

Once you pick what to transfer, you’ll have the option to create a password for the special file that the wizard creates.  This is the single file that contains all your stuff.  Don’t skip this step, it’s really important that you protect your data.  Even if you’re at home and you trust everyone or even if you plan to delete this file after the transfer completes, it’s judicious to password protect it anyway.  That way you’ll have a backup you can safely put away and you don’t have to worry about someone snooping on your files.

Remember, this special easy transfer file contains all accounts on the computer, so if you fail to set a password you put your other users accounts in jeopardy.

It just takes a few seconds so you might as well set a password.

Windows 7 Easy Transfer Wizard Password Protect the Transfer File

 

On your Windows 8 machine, type “easy transfer” from the Start Screen and click the App.  Once it opens screen, choose the External Hard drive option, connect your external hard drive, browse to where you saved the transfer file, double click it and sit back and relax. (the transfer save has a .mig file extension)

That’s all there is to it just keep these two things in mind;

  1. If you’re transferring from a laptop make sure it’s plugged into an AC outlet and the power saving mode isn’t set to sleep.  These transfers can take a long time so you don’t want your computer going into hibernation or running out of battery power in the middle of a transfer.   
  2. Easy Transfer can’t copy files to or from a Microsoft Surface tablet so you’ll need an external drive to manually make that happen.
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  • Pamela Moore

    Once stuff is transferred how do you open the mig file? I have transferred but cannot open it.

    • EpiRen

      Use easy transfer on the new computer, point it to the location of the mig file. I think that’s what I did when I did this last year.

  • Pamela Moore

    I have tried doing what you suggested but easy transfer just keeps copying the .mig file and Does not open it.

  • Frank Green

    I had a lot of problems too Pamela… Turns out Windows 8 (and now Windows 10) no longer allow Easy Transfer “out of the box”. However, I’ve found this tutorial on a Windows Easy Transfer alternative which claims to do it for 8 and 10 as well: http://www.zinstall.com/how-to/how-to-use-windows-easy-transfer-on-windows-10

  • Laverne AsIam

    I’m not tech savvy, so finding this discussion and instructions really helped me transfer from my old laptop (Windows 7) to my new (Windows 8). Yes it took a long time but I can see the light. One thing I will add for others; don’t forget to know the size of your old file, so you know which external drive size you need. Very informative step Vonnie I appreciate your share…

  • Freddy

    @Frank Green: Thank you! You saved me a ton of time 🙂
    I actually used their more advanced product that transfers programs, not just files.

    They actually have a very nice tutorial here, even has a video:

    How to transfer programs and files to new PC

  • Frank

    I had a lot of struggle with transferring all the files and programs and instead of using Windows Easy transfer I ended up following everything according to this tutorial that shows how to transfer files to Microsoft Surface (http://bit.ly/1VXBGZN) and was able to do so perfectly.