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I'm looking to finally upgrade from XP to Windows 7 after being deterred by the clean install.

I know it has to be done but is there anyway to to make it easier? Could I partition my hardrive, move everything to one part and then clean install the new os over the old, keeping all my data?

Also if this isn't possible what's the next best?

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Its not possible to migrate from Windows XP directly to Windows 7. If you have access to Windows Vista you could migrate to Vista then migrate to Windows 7. You would be better off moving to Windows 8 which supports moving your user files ( not your applications ) for a direct migration option. There are tools that Microsoft release to migrate your files from XP to Windows 7 but Vista->Windows 7 migration allows you to keep your current configuration. Some people claim an upgrade isn't as good but don't really provide proof to support their claims. –  Ramhound Sep 14 '12 at 12:12
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4 Answers

The only way to save data is to backup it in one way or the other.

There are a bazillion of ways to back up data.

You can either burn it to disc, move to usb, backup to the web etc etc.

OR You can as you say, move it to a partition separate from the OS one which you simply will not format.

Only have one partition? Shrink the current one and then make a new one of the new space.

This is also what i personally prefer. Now a days i always make a new 20 - 30 gig partion dedicated for the os.

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Is the advantage of clearing registery and cleaning the computer less than the hassle of re-installing, I've normally just upgraded. –  Hugh Swakeley Sep 13 '12 at 20:56
    
There is definitively an advantage. You may have loads of unused garbage which just gets piled up if you upgrade. Cleaning your computer in any way is always good and will at least never reduce performance. –  David Jensen Sep 13 '12 at 21:05
    
This is what I recommend as well. A partition big enough for the OS and all the common programs (30-40 GB is sufficient IMO), plus of course swap/hibernation files etc. (although some of these can be moved). All actual user data saved to a different partition. This way, it's easy to regularly make incremental backups of the data partition, as well as format and reinstall the OS whenever required. –  Karan Sep 13 '12 at 21:59
    
@HughSwakeley XP will not in place upgrade to W7, its clean install only. –  Moab Sep 14 '12 at 1:10
    
@Moab Yes I know that's why I created this thread :) –  Hugh Swakeley Sep 14 '12 at 16:58
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Instead of re-partitioning the internal harddisk I'd recommend using a USB stick or external drive for backing up your data. Do a clean install of Windows 7 using the entire internal disk. Then restore your personal data from USB stick/external drive. I wouldn't recommend using separate partitions for OS and data on client systems as that would only gain you some dead disk space.

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Well, dead disk space and the ability to easily reinstall the OS when there are problems. Storage is cheap...data loss for a simple OS reinstall is not. –  EBGreen Sep 13 '12 at 20:50
    
@AnsgarWiechers Why is there dead disc space created by partitioning? –  Hugh Swakeley Sep 13 '12 at 20:55
    
@EBGreen Data can be backed up to external media before doing a re-install. And with Windows being Windows you can't cleanly separate OS and data anyway. For instance, even if you relocate your userprofile to a different partition you still can't re-use it after you re-installed the OS. There will always be something that you need to rescue from the system volume before you can re-install. –  Ansgar Wiechers Sep 13 '12 at 21:04
    
@HughSwakeley There will be some free space on the system volume that you'll never use for anything. That's what I meant by "dead space". –  Ansgar Wiechers Sep 13 '12 at 21:05
    
@AnsgarWiechers I see, I'll most likely do a completely clean install and partition at a later date because it has been slower recently. Is there a software better than todobackup? –  Hugh Swakeley Sep 13 '12 at 21:31
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It would probably be best to backup to some sort of USB device with a good amount of size, and you can Use Windows Easy Transfer which will locate your files stored in traditional locations such as your desktop, My Documents, etc. You still may have to point out folders you have created in other custom locations. Step 2 of this article has a link to the Windows Easy Transfer software.

http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-xp-to-windows-7

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Another option is to simply buy a new drive and leave this one as-is but no longer the boot drive. If you don't have space in the cabinet (e.g., if it's a laptop), move the old drive to an external USB enclosure. Treat that whole drive as one big archive, install Win7 on your new boot drive and go from there. What I like about this is you KNOW you can't possibly have lost anything. And drives are so cheap and getting bigger all the time so why not.

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Yes the problem is this is a laptop, how can I reassign a boot drive and still have my internal drive? Surely I'd then have to carry an external hd everywhere I go? –  Hugh Swakeley Sep 13 '12 at 22:06
    
I would use this an excuse to finally buy the bigger drive you've always wanted. Just swap in the new drive, then install Win7 as if it was a brand-new machine. After you've installed Win7, copy everything you really want from the old drive to the new one. Now, voila, your old drive becomes that 100% backup you've always been promising you'd make of all your data and which you leave at home somewhere safe. –  Nicole Hamilton Sep 13 '12 at 22:20
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