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Posted on July 11th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 Start

I’ve just had a run-in with the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, following which I’m tempted to fly to Redmond and run a seminar on the definition of the words “easy”, “transfer” and “wizard”.

It appears the tool that I’ve used to shunt files and settings from one PC to the next for God Knows How Long has been utterly emasculated in Windows 8.1, without any explanation from Microsoft whatsoever. So, let me attempt to shed some daylight on the situation.

We bought the father-in-law a new Windows 8.1 laptop for his 70th, and thus not wanting to spend the next six weeks in family tech-support purgatory, I told him to bring both old and new laptop round and let me transfer the files, settings and everything else.

I fired up the old laptop and opened the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, and, as I’ve done countless times before, chose to transfer the files over my home network. After a few more clicks, I got the screen below, with clear instructions on what to do on the new computer:

Windows Easy Transfer 1

So I jumped onto the Windows 8.1 laptop and started the Easy Transfer wizard, with the following screen telling me everything will be hunky-dory moving stuff from Windows 7:

Windows Easy Transfer 2

I click Next, and I’m presented with the following question:

Windows Easy Transfer 3

Now I’m snookered. Yes, I’ve used Windows Easy Transfer on the old PC, but not to save files – I want to do that over the network. I’ve got my code and everything! So I press No. And the wizard just shuts down. Screw you.

So, I restart and this time click Yes, and now I’m presented with the Windows Explorer dialog box, which is asking me to hunt down the location of the Easy Transfer file it thinks I’ve saved to disk. Except I haven’t, because I picked the option to transfer via the network, which seems to have disappeared down the Microsoft memory hole.

A quick search online reveals that, yes, Microsoft has removed the options to transfer files via the network and using the (faintly pointless) Easy Transfer Cable. It just hasn’t bothered to tell anyone, least of all the poor sods trying to use the wizard, which still presents all three options. Disk transfer, which I resorted to eventually, is now the only way to go.

Given this is likely to be the first thing many people do when they get their new Windows 8.1 machine, it’s an appalling user experience. Windows 8 is already disorientating for many Windows XP/Vista/7 upgraders, without Microsoft adding to the discomfort for those simply trying to move their files to their new PC.

I’m reliably informed – but cannot confirm – that Microsoft has had to remove the network and cable options after a legal challenge. If this is true, may I humbly suggest that Microsoft pulls its finger out and patches the wizard to remove the now redundant options. Either that, or rename the feature Tortuous Transfer Wizard to reflect its current state.

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Posted in: Software, Windows 8


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20 Responses to “ Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1 ”

  1. Graham Anderson Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Also, Win8.1 Easy Transfer Wizard will only move you from Win7 or Win8. Windows Vista is not supported. I found this out the hard way having spent 6 hours saving data to my NAS and then trying to pull that data onto the new laptop. Of course, if I’d bought my friend a MacBook instead of the PC he wanted, it would have transferred all his files from Vista with relative ease –

  2. Joey P Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    That’s not the only bugbear either, just try using the much vaunted refresh or reset option after upgrading from the Windows Store. You can’t because you have not got an iso or disc to fresh from. Mind boggling incompetence.

  3. Myles Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Barry
    Plus ca change!

    I’ve been around Computers since the late 1960s (IBM 1130 & 360) when IBM had problems with System Compatibility to say the least.

    I vividly remember the tribulations of connecting an IBM PC to a 360.

    MS are no better. I have a simple rule.

    Buy a good PC with an OS which has been around for at least a year, or Service Pack 1 is out and stable, and try NOT to upgrade the OS until it reaches Pensionable Age and then replace it, having transferred everything to a USB 2/3 Hard Drive.

    I still have a 1996 Win 95 PC which will still work if I tickle its tummy (failed CMOS Battery)!

    MS Kibble 8.1 (or Economy Dogs Dinner from Seattle Dollar Store) is no exception.

    I don’t have any problem with MS wanting to be in Phone / Tablet Market but there are still those of us who use a PC for serious work linked to a 24″ or greater Monitor and don’t want to turn into Sir Simon Rattle! Or pay for a 24″+ Touch Screen!!!

    I like a clear screen with a few Icons lined up down the left side not scattered across the screen like the result of a large bird taking a morning dump!

    Sadly your experience doesn’t surprise me. I suspect that you like me are fed up paying to Alpha Test the latest MS offering!



  4. Dan Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Even better is once you are on 8.1, if you do decide to rebuild, even if you have an iso or disk, there is no way to run easy transfer to back up your data. That option no longer exists. It’s only there to move data from Windows 7 or 8.

  5. Fred Wilson Says:
    July 11th, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    the solution is LapLink. Works like a charm

  6. Mike Walsh Says:
    July 12th, 2014 at 10:20 am

    > the solution is LapLink. Works like a charm

    Not for me. A complete waste of money (the version offered via the Microsoft upgrade site that supposedly transfered applications as well as the files transfered by the free version) as it transfered NONE of the (completely normal) applications my wife had in her XP *including Office 2007*.

    Well I tell a lie. It created a link in Modern to each application from XP but none of those links worked.

  7. Matthew Block Says:
    July 13th, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    My company, Bravura Software, has a software product called Easy Computer Sync which fully supports the Easy Transfer Cable in Windows 8.1. It lets you transfer files between any combination of Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 8.1, for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Find out more about Easy Computer Sync at

  8. Jim Says:
    July 16th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    My preference is to virtualise the old hardware with VMWare’s Open Virtualisation Format Tool and copy the image to the new hardware.

    It lets me easily access and run everything from the old hardware on the new hardware on which I have a fresh install of the new hardware’s OS. I can then take my time about configuring the new machine with fresh software installs whilst transfering data across at my leisure.

    Eventually, and it doesn’t take long, I have little or no need to access the virtual image.

    Clearly not a solution for most people but PCPro readers are not “most people.”

  9. Milton Hey Says:
    July 17th, 2014 at 8:17 am

    I can not believe it has taken so long for PC Pro to discover this mess, it has appeared on Microsoft forums for a long time. Do you know about the loss of system back up to disc?

  10. AnthonM Says:
    July 28th, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Well Who does not have a back up then !? it is the first thing my pc and laptop do as they boot up

  11. DJ Says:
    July 29th, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    Been shaking my head about this for months. PC upgrades are a big part of our business and ETW had really come into it’s own as a solid tool that was native, fast, easy, and insured the client would be happy. i would love to know why MS has essentially dropped the feature back 10 years. I assumed it broke something or was broken BY something in the move to 8.1 but a legal bags-boo? That seems unlikely given how long the network transfer option was part of the tool. This was a tough loss for IT guys.

  12. KeithW Says:
    August 6th, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Milton Hey Said

    I can not believe it has taken so long for PC Pro to discover this mess, it has appeared on Microsoft forums for a long time. Do you know about the loss of system back up to disc

    System Backup to disc is still there hidden in the File History menu (bottom LH corner)


  13. Joyce Says:
    August 24th, 2014 at 5:01 am

    Windows 8 sucks and 8.1 is a bigger mess!

  14. Daniel Says:
    September 11th, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I have just run into the exact same problem this is an absolute joke why provide a tool that is ultimately useless without a cable. Another way where Microsoft has mislead people

  15. Steve Says:
    September 15th, 2014 at 12:29 am

    What about copying all the files on the Vista machine to an external drive then moving the files from the external to the 8.1?

    Yes, I know that programs will have to be reinstalled on the new machine

  16. David Keeley Says:
    September 15th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I successfully transferred files and settings from a Win XP PC to a new Win 8.1 PC using the free Laplink PCmover Express for Windows XP downloaded from Hope this helps.

  17. Mary Says:
    October 11th, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Of course, no one at Microsoft bothered to tell the vendors that their Easy Transfer Cable is no longer supported. Myles, I’m with you – the icon display is a mess. Pleeze, Microsoft, pull yourself together!

  18. Mike Says:
    October 19th, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Anyone done an 8.1 to 7 downgrade yet? I only got my Win8.1 PC yesterday and haven’t been able to transfer any files from my old Win7 PC, nor install ACT 2011, or set up the outlook accounts. It’s an absolute waste of space.

  19. Blaine Says:
    October 23rd, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Solved this by ZIPing up the C:\Windows\system32\migwiz folder from my Windows 8 system and placing on my 8.1 system renaming the existing folder to migwiz.crap before unzipping. This gave me the network options and it performed the transfer.

  20. James Says:
    October 23rd, 2014 at 11:11 am

    @Blaine. Good to see that there are still logical thinkers out there. That is what computers are about – logic.


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