Fresh Install of Win7: Importing Old Settings

Dennis Faas's picture

This article is for users that want to move from an older copy of Windows to a fresh / new install of Win7 and who want to re-inject / maintain their old programs and settings without having to reconfigure everything manually.

This article is a continuation of a series of other articles on Migrating to Windows 7. As such, I will assume that you have already used Acronis True Image 2010 to make a complete backup of your old Windows XP system, you have mounted the image as a virtual drive, and you are now ready to proceed with the reinstallation of your programs. Note that True Image is currently on sale @ 25% off through our site (expires Dec 21st, 2009). Proceeds support our site.

Taking the Plunge: From XP to Win7

Windows 7 is out and a lot of us plan to take the leap during the holidays when we have more time on our hands.

Here's the skinny on what we've been covering so far:

  • All WinXP users have to do a fresh install of Windows. That means you have to reinstall all your programs and reconfigure all your settings. It's a pain and it's going to take some time, so be prepared. We recommend you use Acronis True Image 2010 to help migrate to Win7. Then use this guide (below) to import some of that data.
  • If you are upgrading from Vista to Win7, you can do what is called an "in-place install." Most of your programs should transfer without any hitch because Vista and Win7 are fairly compatible.
  • If you own Vista and don't want to do an in-place install, you can do a fresh win7 install even with upgrade media. That said, you can use the info below to help with the importing of your old data.

A Generic Approach to Reinstalling Programs

This article is based on a generic approach to reinstalling / importing / reclaiming your previous settings for the majority of your programs. This is by no means a definitive guide; it will not work on all cases, but it will provide you with a systematic approach to getting things back on track once you install Win7.

In general:

  1. Choose the program you wish to reinstall.
  2. Mount your Acronis True Image virtual drive image backup. This only needs to be done once.
  3. Search for and locate the folder of the program you want to reinstall via your image backup. Herein we will refer to this folder as "OLD DATA." Details of how to search / mount your image backup here.
  4. Is the new program you want to reinstall supported in Win7?

    i) Yes: Program is supported in Win7 --> copy OLD DATA from image backup to same location in Win7 system. Proceed to Step 6.

    ii) No: Program is NOT supported in Win7 --> Choose a replacement program: search the Internet. Go to Step 5.

  5. Tip: use the Internet to find out if your old program is compatible with Windows 7. Go to Google and search using these keywords: "<program name> compatible win7." Example: "outlook express compatible win7," or similar variations.

  6. Can the replacement program import your old data?

    Yes --> copy OLD DATA to same location on new Win7 system. Take note where you place OLD DATA folder.

    No --> Go to next step.
  7. Reinstall program / install replacement program. Look for the most recent version online; otherwise, install the program from CD / DVD.
  8. Launch reinstalled / replacement program.
  9. Configure reinstalled / replacement program. See below.

Importing Old Data from a Previous Windows Install

Options and Preferences

Look under the Options or Edit menu for "Preferences" or "Configuration" of your reinstalled program. You will need to edit the preferences / options and ensure that the reinstalled program is pointing to your OLD DATA folder if you plan to import this data. Once this is set, close the program and restart.

Importing Data

You may also need to "import" your OLD DATA using an Import function of the newly reinstalled program. Look under File or Tools menu for an option to Import your OLD DATA.

Converting Data, Then Importing

Some programs you used previously won't work with Win7 and you'll be forced to use a different program. For example, MS Outlook Express isn't supported under Win7. If you plan to use Mozilla Thunderbird as a replacement for MS Outlook Express and wish to import your contacts, you'll need to locate your .WAB address book file (via your image backup) and then convert it to .LDIF format, and THEN import the .LDIF files into Mozilla's Address book.

Tip: Information on importing / converting / transferring OLD DATA to a new program requires a bit of detective work. Please use Google and do research to find out how other people are migrating their data over from one program to the next.

Configuring Your Program Without Importing Data

Some programs will require you to manually punch in missing data.

For example: your email address, password, and mail server configuration information will likely be hidden in the Windows Registry in your old system, which (most of the time) cannot be imported into another program. You will need to insert this information using the keyboard. Therefore, please be sure to write down all critical passwords, logins, etc on paper before you start your Win7 install.

That's all for now. I'll answer more questions as they come.

Reminder: Get Acronis True Image 2010 at 25% Off

A reminder: our sale on Acronis True Image 2010 will get you 25% off the retail price -- expires December 21st, 2009. If you are upgrading from a previous version of True Image we have a discount for that as well (details here). If you have never owned True Image before, now is the perfect time to grab it while it's on sale!

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