After a recent article mentioning the backup program I use Acronis True Image Home 2011, I received an email from subscriber Keith Vigon with a question about using it as part of his process of upgrading his operating system:
Usually when I switch computers, I have the same basic (very) problem, namely moving my email details, contacts, old messages etc to the new computer, the same applies to bookmarks in the various search engines, also of course the files, photos etc.
Basically everything I might want from the old computer to be available on the new one, and for a Neanderthal like . . . hmmmm … me, to be able to do it. Would the programme you described in this latest missive do the job, or is there a better one suitable for this.
The problem I think I may encounter is right now I am using Vista and a new computer will have Windows 7 – will that be a problem?
Thanks as always
I wrote back to Keith to remind him that Acronis True Image Home 2011 is a backup program — it is not a migration program to automatically move all your files and settings to a new computer.
If you restore the image of a Vista system onto a Windows 7 computer, it would overwrite everything on the Win7 computer with the Vista backup — including overwriting Windows 7 itself with the backed up Vista files. However, the system probably not be bootable, since the hardware would be different.
Part of the problem is that your various drivers (video, ethernet, etc.) would not match the new hardware. Another part is a Microsoft anti-piracy measure — Windows no longer installs all the chipset drivers that are on the Windows installation DVD, so if the new computer has different northbridge or southbridge chipsets than the original computer the, the restored Operating System will be missing some of the critical files it needs to boot successfully.
While the ATIH2011 "Plus Pack" includes the ability to create a backup to be restored to "dissimilar hardware," if you do an image restore, it does the operating system and everything. — When you start the first time, it will ask for your Windows license code to license the OS on the new hardware.
The real value of an ATIH backup image in this situation is that it would be available to you to copy individual files and folders to the new computer. ATIH will "mount" the image as if it was a hard drive — and you’d use Windows Explorer to copy files and folders from this pseudo-drive to the computer. That way, you could get your data — then or later.
Your programs would have to be reinstalled, as programs often store information in the Windows Registry. You would not want to copy the Windows Registry files from the Vista computer to the new computer, even if you could (when you’re running Windows on the new computer, it locks the Registry files, so you wouldn’t be able to overwrite them).
There are some programs designed for migrating settings to new computers, but I haven’t tried any of them. I did use one for a client that Dell sold with their computers about 5 year ago; unfortunately, it did very basic common programs (windows settings, IE settings, Outlook Express settings, Microsoft Office settings) and ignored most of his stuff.
Microsoft even has their own free program to help you migrate to Windows 7. It’s called Windows Easy Transfer and can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site.