The acclaimed Windows XP had a good run of 12 years, remaining the dominant operating system on many computers well past the launch of its successors, Windows Vista and Windows 7. With Microsoft’s support for XP officially ending on April 8th, there will be no more security updates and hardware and software vendors will no longer be working to make their products compatible with the operating system.

XP support is ending

Unfortunately that means it’s time to bite the bullet and either get a new computer or upgrade your existing machine’s operating system. But what about all your current data and account settings? You don’t want to lose all those files, and there are several ways to migrate them over to your new computer.

First and foremost is the good old fashioned drag and drop onto a USB flash drive. Just plug in the USB drive, open “My Computer,” and then click and drag any folders or files you want to save. While this method works just fine if you only have some photos and word documents to transfer, it will be much less useful if you have a huge amount of data from years of using a computer.

drag and drop

For bigger transfer jobs, Microsoft has a tool available specifically for migrating all your files from a Windows XP machine to a new Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer. You can download the LapLink tool right here.

To get started, download and install LapLink on both computers, and then click“Next” on the instructional screen. Click the “Windows XP” button on your old computer and then select “Windows 7/Windows 8” on your new computer and click “Next” on both.

Selecting LapLink settings

If both computers are connected to the same network, you can select “WiFI or Wired Network” to transfer the data via your router. If you’d prefer to use a physical cable instead, connect a USB cable between the two computers and click “Laplink USB Cable” and select “Next.”

The program will automatically check your machine to see which files and applications it can transfer over. Follow the on-screen prompts and LapLink will take care of everything for you. Keep in mind that transferring a whole hard drive’s worth of data can be a lengthy process, so set some time aside, as it can take up to 3 – 5 hours to transfer everything.

Choosing LapLink options

Besides LapLink, Microsoft also offers another tool for transferring called Windows Easy Transfer, which is available for any of the operating systems at this location.

As with the LapLink program, click “Next” after downloading and installing and then select the method you want to use to transfer your data: either “A Network” to send the files over you home network, or “An External Hard Disk” if you have an external USB hard drive large enough to hold all your current computer’s data.

Windows Easy Transfer

Click “This is My Old Computer” and the program will automatically scan your hard drive to see what files and account info can be transferred over, as well as how much space you will need if you are using a USB hard drive.

If you want to transfer everything simply click “Next.” Otherwise if you want to only transfer certain folders or files, click “Customize” and then remove the check box from any data you don’t want to transfer.

Customizing transfer options

Click “Next” and then “Save.” Select your external hard drive from the list of options to begin saving all your data, or choose a network drive if you are transferring through your home network. Once the save is complete, connect your external hard drive to the new computer and open Windows Easy Transfer on that machine. Select “This is my new computer” and follow the prompts to transfer all your data.

But what if you want to upgrade your existing machine instead of getting a new computer? In that case, you’ll want to download the Windows Upgrade Assistant.

Windows Upgrade Assistant

Open the program and it will automatically scan your hard drive to find out which programs you have that are compatible with Windows 8, and which ones won’t work on an updated system.

~ Ty Arthur