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Problems with Microsoft Windows Easy Transfer Utility - Locks Up or Hangs

The MicroSoft Windows Easy Transfer utility, like many Microsoft products, is anything but easy. And certainly not reliable. Sometimes it works. Many, perhaps most of the time, it doesn't. This page will help you to work around it, with specific guidance and how -to's.

What is the problem with Windows Easy Transfer?

The most frustrating aspect, again, a common feature of Microsoft and our dear friend, Bill Gates, is the lack of information it provides when it fails. In fact, when it fails, it does not even tell you it failed: it simply hangs, and displays a cryptic flashing icon in the upper right corner. 

I've search the Internet for any explanation of the problems, possible solutions, or anything that could shed light on what the problem may be, what the blinking "disconnected network icon" means (the network was not, in fact, disconnected), but I've found only many, many more people asking the same questions:

  1. Why does Windows Easy Transfer hang?
  2. What does the flashing icon (similar to a "disconnected network" icon, two computers with an X through them, see the screen image below) mean?
  3. Is there any way to identify the cause of the problem and fix it or work around it?
  4. Is there no simple way to copy Outlook email account settings, rules, signatures, contacts, messages, etc. to another computer?
  5. If there is no easy way to do this, what are the specific, explicitly, accurately and completely stated steps to do this manually?

You may want to try it with some very small file transfer, such as a directory holding a small website, to see if it will work.  It does seem to do well at moving FrontPage websites.

How to work around Windows Easy Transfer

In these directions, "Old computer" refers to the source computer and "New computer" refers to the destination computer. I assume you have enough basic computer literacy to understand what directories, folders, USB drives, etc. are.  If you don't, you shouldn't be attempting this.  You are likely to really screw something up.  (Get tech savvy friend to help you, instead)

A migration utility that actually works

And it is FREE. At least, the demo version is, and that's all you'll need. After a lot of searching and testing, I found one utility that works pretty well, and it is fast, and free. And I get NO royalties, kick-backs or other payments or compensation from them.  It just works, so I'm recommending it.

The utility is called BackRex, and you can download a free demo version here: http://www.backsettings.com/

They have many versions, all available as demos.  Which version you will need depends upon what applications you use. I used BackRex Outlook Backup, which saves your important personal information stored in Outlook, including mail folders, contacts, tasks, calendar, notes, journals, message rules, signatures, and all customizable settings. In addition, settings of Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, including favorites, are also saved.

It took about 1 hour, total to move all my settings, bookmarks, favorites, email accounts, emails, Office rules; altogether, about 20 GB of data. The only failure, was the the Office Signatures, and I used a work around method (below) for that, which only took 5 minutes. One footnote: will it will copy all your Outlook email, your email accounts, their settings, User ID's, etc., it will not (or cannot) copy the passwords associated with each email account. So you will need to type the passwords in


Alternatives and Work Around's

To move rules and alerts

Rules are stored in .rwz files with the name of your profile. However, just copying the .rwz file to another machine doesn't always work. Instead, export the rules: 

  1. Choose  Tools | Rules Wizard  (or in Outlook 2007, Tools | Rules and Alerts), and then click Options.

  2. In the Options dialog box, click Export Rules, and choose a file location.  A USB flash drive is a good method.

Reverse the process to import your saved rules if you need to transfer Outlook to another machine. Always check all the imported rules to make sure they're still active. Sometimes they're deactivated -- especially move or copy to folder rules --  because Outlook can't be sure that the destination folder is the same as in your original rule. 

To move Outlook signatures

Outlook signatures are stores as files, one separate file for each signature.  There is no configuration file for them, Outlook recognizes them by the file extension and location.  So, to move them, all you need to do is use Windows Explorer to copy all of the files in the Signatures folder location on the old computer and copy them to the same location on the new computer:

Where (UserID) is the user ID for the profile for the Outlook account:

Desktop - (UserID) - AppData - Roaming - Microsoft - Signatures

To move the signatures,

  1. On the old computer, copy the entire Signatures folder and all of the folders and files in it to a USB drive, a CD, DVD, shared drive or an external hard drive.
  2. On the new computer, copy the Signatures folder and all of the folders and files in it from the USB drive (or whatever media you used) to over-write the same folder and sub-directories.

That's all it takes, when you start Outlook, it will read the signatures in when you need them.

 

For a practical guide about how to move to a new pc, see this page.

 

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This page was updated on 13-May-2010