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In trying to replace a workstation with newer one it's always a pain to get the user's files and settings to the new computer.

I've tried the following with varying levels of success.

  • FAST (Files And Settings Transfer) wizard.
  • RoboCopy
  • RichCopy

What's the best method for transfering files and settings?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

PCMover ( http://www.laplink.com/pcmover/ ) worked for me moving from one laptop to another. Everything migrated well, though our IT group is who ran the actual utility, so I'm not sure of the ease of use.

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Overall, I've had good experience with the built-in Windows FAST (Files and Settings Transfer) wizard. It seems to be getting better with each new version of Windows too.

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I've had real problems getting the intial connection between to the devices (always tried to use the network) and maintaining the connection. –  Rick Apr 30 '09 at 14:49
Were you using a crossover cable, or going through a hub/switch/router? I've done both network and disk before with success, but have had the disconnect issue you're talking about. I think I ended up writing the data to a DVD in that case. –  jeffl8n Apr 30 '09 at 15:58
I was going through the network (not a crossover cable). After FAST failed I used RoboCopy over the network. That was a very manual process and just copied the files not the settings. –  Rick Apr 30 '09 at 16:27
One area where it (FAST) needs improvement is handling multiple users on the computer(s). When I've tried to use it in the past, it has handled that case poorly. –  RBerteig May 4 '09 at 7:53

Skirting your question a bit - I've enjoyed the use of Active Directory-based home folders. This works well if you have a nice fast network with a domain controller.

This way your files follow you around no matter which computer you are using, and the server can handle the backups.

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If the tools don't work, you try the manual way:

First, copy the profile directory as you like.

Second, log in as user to get the account registered with windows.

Now, update the profile location:


key: ProfileImagePath

Now, make sure this user has full permission to the moved profile. The tricky part is that in addition to file permissions, you also have to update registry permission in the registry editor. This means loading up the user's hive. Here are the instructions I followed:

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Another configuration that I've enjoyed is putting my home folder under a git repository. Whenever I move to a new machine, I just sync to another machine. No sense in using complicated software with GUIs. :-)

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I've used Microsoft's Windows State Migration Utility with success.

You can get it here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=799AB28C-691B-4B36-B7AD-6C604BE4C595&displaylang=en

If you have lots of users you can customize your xml files and then make every machine after the first one a piece of cake.

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