When you install a new operating system onto your computer, you'll first - assuming you're a stickler for reliability and stability - format or even repartition your hard drive in preparation, rather than just installing straight over and upgrading the older operating system. By using this method you will inevitably have to go through the grind of reinstalling and reconfiguring all your applications and settings to the way they were on your previous setup.
In an attempt to make part of this transition easier, Microsoft has included a utility with Windows XP that can help you apply at least some of your application and operating system settings to your new XP-equipped system with minimal fuss. It even has the ability to transfer files.
The Files and Settings Transfer Wizard is a useful tool if you need to set up a number of XP computers the same way. It has the ability to transfer e-mail and browser program settings (Outlook Express and Internet Explorer), operating system folder settings and Control Panel settings such as mouse, keyboard, regional and accessibility options, to name a few.
If you have already performed a lot of custom changes to your existing Windows operating system and don't want to go through the mundaneness of it all again, then this utility should be a boon for you. The Wizard will also be able to take settings from Microsoft Word or Excel and apply them to your new system once those programs have been installed.
How does it work?
Obviously, you need to grab the settings off your old system prior to applying them to the new one. Insert the Windows XP CD into the source computer and, once the autorun feature kicks in, select Perform Additional Tasks. (Note: if the CD doesn't autorun, go to Start-Run and type D:\setup, where D is your CD-ROM drive.) Click on Transfer Files and Settings to invoke the Wizard. Click on the Next button and wait for the program to undertake a quick system check. It will then ask you to select the medium to be used for transferring your settings or files - floppy drive, a removable drive (Zip, Orb, etc.), a hard drive or a network location.
After you've selected your medium, click the Next button and proceed to the next screen, where you will be asked if you want to transfer files or settings or both. If you are only transferring Control Panel settings such as those mentioned previously, you should only require a couple of floppy disks to complete the task; if you will be using this utility to transfer files, then you will need a much larger storage option. Click the radio button beside the option of your choice and make sure you place a check in the "Customize" box before you click the Next button.
Selecting the Customize option gives you (limited) control over which settings and files (even extension types) get transferred. You can add or remove by using the buttons on the screen. Once your selections are complete, click the Next button. The settings will be collected and you will be prompted to enter your destination diskettes. Click Finish once this is complete.
Applying the settings
You can now apply your preferred settings to your new XP system by going to Start-More Programs-Accessories-System Tools and running the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. Click Next from the first screen, select New Computer and click Next once again, then select I have already collected... Point the program to the location of the files and click the Next button. The settings will now be transferred and you will be asked to log on again to the system before the settings can take effect.
There is a snag you should watch - many programs install shortcuts in the Quick Launch area of your Taskbar, and if these programs aren't already installed on your new system you'll end up with dead links. Make sure all your required applications are installed prior to running this Wizard.