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I'm going to be repaving my machine w/ Win7 RTM shortly, and I'm wondering if there is a way to import an existing user after the install completes?

I've been careful with the current install to set my user's file locations to an alternate disk, and what I'd like to be able to do is "add existing user" so that at least my files, if not registry settings are preserved

Is this possible? What's the best way to do it?


Sounds like Windows Easy Transfer is a good way to go about it, but it requires an copy of the data. Is there any way to do it in-place?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can use the built-in Windows Easy Transfer.

The process is explained step by step in this technet article.

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sounds good, can it be used if I only have 1 computer? – Scott Weinstein Aug 15 '09 at 1:33
Yep, you can save the data to external media. – John T Aug 15 '09 at 2:08
Check HowToGeeks guide to it as well, while your at it – Ivo Flipse Aug 15 '09 at 17:29

Personally I am a fan of doing it yourself and manually creating the user, reinstalling all programs and copying all files... wasting a lot of time e.t.c.

That being said, Windows 7 comes with a program called "Windows easy transfer" which should do everything for you.

If you want to read a guide / experiences of a user, James O'Neil is someone from Microsoft UK who knows what he is doing! He wrote this on his blog -

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I've tried a few upgrades like this, Windows 7 RC to RTM, and there are a couple of gotchas that I've found.

The main one is that is seems to not handle Skype at all - was left with an as-new install (no password stored, no history) after Easy Transfer. Other things that have failed to come over properly, though mainly irritating, are themes/colour schemes, history in Chrome/Iron, mouse preferences, desktop gadgets, changes to sound scheme, and Live Mesh folder settings. So not a totally hands-off experience, but the interface works well to show you what you need to reinstall.

I recommend using the built-in backup function and making a full backup. This gives you a .vhd file that you can mount in the new install and copy over anything that it missed. I had to drag the Skype folder back from the C:\Users\Me\AppData\Roaming to restore the history.

In summary, Easy Transfer has some rough edges, but with a full backup for peace of mind, you can go for it, and it is still a lot faster than a full by-hand reinstall.

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