How to transfer files from XP to Vista Transferring files

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This article, How to transfer files from XP to Vista, was last updated on 14 July 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Technology articles.

1Set-up your computers

Place your computers side-by-side so that the cable reaches between them. Turn both computers on, but don’t plug in the cable just yet.

We don't want the computers to acknowledge the cable until the software has been installed.

2Prepare your XP computer

step 2

Before you start, you’ll need to install the software that came with the cable onto the XP computer (Vista has this software built in). 

Put the disc in the drive on the XP computer, and follow the installation instructions. 

Once the software has loaded you’ll return to your usual desktop.


3Plug in the cable

step 3

Plug one end of the cable into a USB port on the XP machine. You’ll see a pop-up box offering you the chance to start Windows Easy Transfer. Start the program and click 'Next' to continue. 

If you have any programs open, you’ll be asked to close them before proceeding. 

Next you’ll be asked to choose how you want to transfer your data. Choose the 'Easy Transfer cable' option.


4Connect the computers

step 4

Now connect the other end of the cable into the Vista computer. A pop-up menu will appear giving you the chance to run Windows Easy Transfer (as you’ll have seen before on the XP machine) – select this. Start a new transfer, and when you’re asked which computer you’re using, choose 'My New Computer' to transfer files to this computer. This lets the computer know it should expect to receive data. When you’re asked, choose 'Yes, I have an Easy Transfer cable'. After a moment, the Vista machine will tell you that both machines are now running Windows Easy Transfer. 

5Choose files and folders

step 5

Return to the XP machine, and choose what to transfer. Windows Easy Transfer can copy folders and files (including music, pictures and video); email settings, contacts and messages; internet settings and favourites; user accounts (also known as logins); and program settings (the preferences you’ve set up for the software you use). 

Choose whether you want to transfer files for all users, or the current user. If you’re unsure, try the ‘All Users’ option first. You’ll see a list of files that will be transferred. If you know there are some other specific files not on the list, you should follow the on-screen instructions on how to add these. If you run into problems during the transfer, restart the procedure and use the customise option to choose only the files you need (documents and images etc). 

6Transfer files

step 6

Select Transfer. You’ll then be asked to choose a user account on the Vista computer. Pick the one that you usually use. The transfer process will then begin. This will take a while – the more data you’re transferring, the longer it will take. 

Check the screens from time to time for any error messages – you will be asked for input if there are any problems.



7Finishing off

step 7

When the transfer’s complete click 'Close' on the XP machine to dismiss the message saying ‘you’re now ready to use your new computer’. 

On the Vista machine you’ll see a summary of what’s been carried out, and you can view more details by selecting ‘Show me everything that was transferred’. 

You will now be able to find all your old files on your new computer.