Windows Easy Transfer does a nice job of copying the personal files and folders from an old computer to a new one. Applications are not transferred and must be installed from scratch on the new machine. There is a gray area, some files that bridge the domain of personal files and applications, files that applications write and store for a variety of customizations. Those files, stored in a folder called “AppData” are not transferred by Windows Easy Transfer. These files might contain important and valuable data that users would miss on the new machine.
Windows Live Photo Gallery stores copies of the original photos whenever any changes, such as cropping or exposure corrections, are made. There is an option “Revert to original” that allows going back to the image before any changes were made. That is a very important and useful feature. The “originals”, really copies of the starting image, are stored in a normally hidden folder. Windows Live Photo Gallery provides access to this folder in the Options menu, under the “Originals” tab. When you open that folder it looks about like the illustration here. It does not really tell you where the folder or the files are. Clicking on the down arrowhead in the address bar, reveals the location: C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Photo Gallery\Original Images, where “username” is your name. The default for Live Photo Gallery is to store these copies of the originals indefinitely. If you want to move these images to your new machine you need to do so manually. There is no warning or other indication in Windows Easy Transfer that this situation exists and that these files will be left behind.
Now it may well be that these “originals” are not treasures to you but just trash. But if they are treasures, copy them to an external drive. Warning: If you have a large number of photos and have kept these originals, the space needed may be quite large, and I mean many gigabytes, so you may need a large external hard drive. The good news is that after you have installed Windows Live Photo Gallery on your new computer it will have created the folder for the originals. Open the folder as described above and copy the originals from the external device. Live Photo Gallery will work and be able to revert to the original – at least it did for me in all my tests.
Another example: When you customize Google Earth with location pushpins, photo links, or other features, it writes the appropriate data to “kml” files and saves them in your AppData folder. These files are not copied by Windows Easy Transfer. When you install Google Earth on your new machine, any customization you made in your old computer just is not there. The customization files are located in a folder deep inside your AppData folder on the old machine. Where did I find them in the first place? They where in the “Roaming” subfolder under Google Earth. I found that copying them to the same location on the new computer just did not work. So I created a new folder in My Documents and copied the files to that folder. Using the File > Open dialog in Google Earth I could add my kml files and now Google Earth on the new computer shows my “treasures”.
My recommendation is that you keep your old computer with all that is on it until you have installed all your application on the new one and tested them out. Most programs are easily configured and will create the needed data that they store in the AppData folders.
Much of what is left behind in the AppData folders is indeed trash, but there may be some treasures that you will want to find and move to your new machine.
Other posts about Windows Easy Transfer:
© 2011 Ludwig Keck