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I know about the Easy Transfer tool included in Windows 7 that will transfer all my files but I want to transfer my programs. Also, I don't want to buy any gimmicky program if I don't have to.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

Many programs cannot be directly transferred from one machine to another. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Registry entries mean some necessary parts of your program are records in the registry database. In other words, they share part of the same file with many other programs. The records themselves won't copy directly to the registry on the new system because they often have guid keys that are not determined until install time, and so there's no way to know which records you will need.
  • Licensing restrictions sometime will compile a "signature" based on the hardware isntalled on a pc. Just transferring the program directly means the license check would fail because the new signature is wrong.
  • Some installers will use hardware specific files. It's less common than it used to be, but video games are especially likely to do this — the installer might copy a different set of code to your system under the same file name depending on whether you have an nVidia or ATi-based card.
  • Program Data might live in folder underneath different user's folders, making correct re-assembly difficult at best. Additionally, technologies like isolated storage might mean important program data is encrypted and not easily readable.

You can find software that attempts to track through the maze of registry guids and licensing problems, but as you say: it's gimmicky at best.

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this is a shame. thanks for this answer. i kind of knew most of this, i was just hoping that there was some easy, legitimate way to transfer programs that i just wasn't aware of – Jason Aug 23 '10 at 17:51
on that note, anyone have an old photoshop cd lying around? :D for some reason, media cds are tasty to dogs – Jason Aug 23 '10 at 17:52

If you don't have the media to reinstall, you could do it with virtualization e.g. install vmware on your new pc and create a virtual copy of the old pc (p2v). It's not a means of transferring the programs as requested in the question, but it's a way to make them available.

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Good idea! I did that once with an old laptop and had completely forgotten. – BillP3rd Aug 23 '10 at 2:31

There is no program, and plus I wouldn't want a program to transfer everything for me. Just reinstall the programs you need and keep it like that, stops other problems from happening.

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i don't have all the discs for all my programs... I don't believe that we do not have the technology to transfer programs from one computer to another. – Jason Aug 22 '10 at 23:10
I hate to ruin your day but I have to agree with Sandeep. The problem is the difficulty in knowing exactly what any given software package has touched on your system. Only the most trivial programs can be moved by copying their folder from "Program Files." That said, some can be moved this way. My "standard" process for moving from an old PC to a new one is to use "Installed Program Printer" ( to make a list of what I need to install and check them off as I go. A nice side effect is I wind up eliminating lots of things I no longer use. – BillP3rd Aug 22 '10 at 23:41
Alternatively, you could try copying the program folder, then looking around in the registry for anything that looks like it might apply. You'll also need to get any shared DLLs. Then there may be files in the "Application Data" and "Local Settings" folders, plus you'll need to manually re-create any icons. Finally, depending the OS you're coming from, there may well be files that just don't exist on the old system. Any dependent frameworks will also need to be identified and installed (.NET, Java, etc.) Your best bet will be to do your best to get your hands on the original media. – BillP3rd Aug 22 '10 at 23:48

there is a software for this purpose. Laplink PC Mover is the name of software and i have seen it work on windows xp as well.

Note : The only reason a program would not work on other computer if transferred using this is compatibility issues, otherwise the transferred software works just like a new installation. secondly ,no one can predict software conflicts

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In the past many users used Microsoft Windows Easy Transfer. But Windows 10 does not have the Windows Easy Transfer program anymore. you will need to use a tool like PCmover to get your apps because most programs need to be registered in the windows registry in order to work correctly. Microsoft recommended it and provides a limited use free copy on their site. A well explained video tutorial from Lablink here:

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I was initially suspicious of this but there is indeed a download link on the Microsoft website. – Burgi May 2 at 2:02

If you are desperate you can try manually copying the installation directory over to the new computer.

I have had this work sometimes depending on how complex the program is. Some programs don't use the registry or will recreate the registry keys when they are missing.

You will also have to copy over the start menu shortcuts/folders too if you want the program to appear in there.

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Easy Transfer does not transfer programs. Plus, it is no longer available in Windows 10.

After quite a bit of testing, I've settled on using Zinstall's products for transfer jobs that I occasionally do. They have a straight-forward Easy Transfer alternative, and also have a product that transfers everything, including programs, settings, files, the whole nine yards.

They actually have a very nice tutorial that is quite useful, even has a video: How to transfer programs to new PC

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