Windows Easy Transfer?

This article was originally published in issue 57 of The Crypt Mag

Windows Vista comes with a utility called Windows Easy Transfer (WET for short). The purpose of this utility is to back up your settings and files allowing you to easily transfer them to another computer. Sounds like quite a useful little utility doesn’t it? At least that was what I thought.

One day my hard drive packed in and required to be replaced. I wasn’t too worried at this point since I knew I had a recent backup of the contents of that hard drive I had made using WET.

With a new hard drive fitted and Windows Vista installed along with the latest service pack plus other updates it was now time to transfer all of my backed up files. That’s when my troubles started.

Attempting to restore my backed up files initially seemed to go okay until WET froze and then a few minutes later decided to cause the computer to crash with a BSOD (blue screen of death). I tried again and again WET froze and crashed my computer. Needless to say at this point I was quite worried that I had lost all of my files like my e-mails and family photos with no way of getting them back.

While looking for possible solutions on the internet it became evident from other peoples’ experiences that WET was very prone to crashing while trying to restore files. I also could not find a solution that would work for getting my files back. What was I going to do?

After about a week of trying to unsuccessfully retrieve my files I had the idea of downloading the Windows 7 release candidate and seeing if I could restore the files using that.

One quick format of the hard drive and installation of Windows 7 later I tried again to restore my files using Windows 7′s version of the WET utility. Fingers crossed, everything seemed to be going okay. You have no idea of the relief I had when the progress bar finally got to 100%! With all of my files now successfully restored I quickly copied everything to an external hard drive before anything else could go wrong.

Windows Easy Transfer? I don’t think so, at least not with the version supplied with Windows Vista. It fails me to understand why the WET utility in Windows Vista is so blatantly buggy and has never been fixed. Thankfully the version in the Windows 7 release candidate proved to be much more stable otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. If anything this experience has reminded me that if you back up your files, always check to make sure that you can get them back again before things do go wrong!

Article copyright © 2009, 2010 Francis G. Loch

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