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I need to upgrade bunch of PCs that serve as client workstations. The old PCs are running Windows XP, while the new ones have Windows 7 installed on them.

I need to make sure that every personal document the users have on the old PC get migrated to the new one. Is there any way of automating this migration process?

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You can use the User State Migration Tool (, but for a big complex organisation that's full of users that save documents all over the place you may find it takes weeks of testing to set this up too. – RobM Feb 5 '14 at 13:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The User State Migration Tool is a scriptable tool from Microsoft that can transfer profiles between computers. That's the short-term solution.

If you are leveraging System Center Configuration Manager 2012 (or later) for the Windows 7 Operating System Deployment, you can configure a State Migration Point and automate this to a very high degree.

The long-term solution should be to implement folder redirection so that a user's documents folder resides on a file server and is transparently redirected there. In this case, the user doesn't even know that they're saving to a file server, but it keeps you from having to transfer files. If you want everything in the profile to migrate seamlessly, you'll want to combine roaming user profiles with folder redirection.

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+1, Good answer, but you generally still need to look for stuff saved to `C:\MyStuff` (or whatever). Some environments are locked down enough that users can only save to the My Documents tree, but most aren't, and if you blow away those files saved elsewhere, you'll catch hell for it, even when you shouldn't. That's why I prefer to take a disk image or copy the hard drive in some other way, so you don't get bit by that. – HopelessN00b Feb 5 '14 at 13:27
This is true - I forgot that XP lets a limited user do that. If a user has saved stuff to C:\, then you'll need to hunt for files and/or bludgeon them with a laptop dock. – MDMarra Feb 5 '14 at 13:29

Is there any way of automating the process of migration?

Not accurately - you could easily identify every file by it's size and extension, exclude any which file types which you know are not user generated (.exe, .com, .dll....) or are in a location users shouldn't keep data files (\temp, \Windows, \Program Files....). It's about 30 minutes work to implement this in a scripting language. Then copy the over to the file server you've just bought so that you NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN.

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This is probably going to require actually going around to each PC and checking by hand, to some extent. You can do a pretty good job with the User State Migration Tool, but because users generally can save documents in other places, it's a pretty safe bet that at least one of them will.

So, how I've approached this in the past is to take an image of the old hard drive with a tool I like, perform the upgrade and user state migration, and then tell the users to let me know if they're missing anything. While they're getting acclimated with their new OS, I'll look through the images I took and see if anyone's got a cache of files saved outside of the My Documents folder, and copy it over to their new computer/OS if I find it.

You can also even just dump the whole folder structure of the old PC onto the new one, in a folder named Old Computer (or similar). Some users really like that, some don't.

Then put the images on an external hard drive or USB stick, and store them in a drawer somewhere, because it's also a safe bet that sometime a couple years from now, someone's going to complain about not being able to find a file they're sure they had before they got a new PC, at which point you can pull out the drive with the images on them, dust it off, and present them with the image to search through.

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