Before you wipe Windows... –

Here is a migration checklist for when you're moving to a new PC, or installing a new hard disk. This is an updated version of the original migration checklist for Windows 95 / Windows 2000.

Check your Windows user Libraries

Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos and also Downloads

Check the MRUs of your common apps

The "most recently used" lists, usually found on the file menu of applications such as the Microsoft Office suite, Textpad, Photoshop, Audacity, etc.


My desktop is always cluttered. That goes for my real ones too :)

Saved games

I haven't played a big PC game for years, but I'm sure you can still backup the save files. Also watch out for premium downloads you've paid for. Most of these use activation keys, so search your e-mail.

Export your e-mails

You're on your own here. All I know is Windows Live Mail doesn't scale.

Save your web bookmarks

For IE copy the Favorites folder; for Firefox copy bookmarks.html from your profile.

Repeat all the above steps for other Windows accounts

Search all hard drives for the types of files you normally work on

For me this is *.tcl, *.html, *.php, *.sql, *.java, *.doc, *.psd, *.jpg, *.png and *.flv for me, but you might have Excel spreadsheets, music files, etc.


You can either backup your entire music library, or just purchases. My apps and bought songs are big enough, so I just backup those and manually copy my ripped mp3s. As of iTunes 10 (iCloud coming soon) you can only backup to DVD or CD, and if you need multiple discs it might not recognise a DVD after the first disc (I just went through the pain of 1 DVD and 5 CDs). Also you might want to deauthorise your old iTunes as you can only have 5 separate installs.

Scan through your Program Files and Program Files (x86) folders to refresh your memory

There might be shareware programs whose installation files are still hanging around, for example.

Stored passwords

Might be in a password vault application, or a text file. Also your browsers, for example Firefox lets you view (but not export) your saved logins. Go to Tools -< Options -< Saved Passwords...

Sneaky configuration files... the syntax files for Textpad that live in the system folder where ever Textpad was installed.


You might have digital certs for banking, Revenue, Companies Registration, e-mail, server logins, etc.


You might want to make a list of what LAN and WiFi networks you can connect to, or remind yourself of your settings for your 3G dongle.


If you have a network might need to keep windows\hosts.

Proxy settings

If you're behind a firewall it's worth noting the settings for your browser.

System properties

If you're doing a reinstall on the same hardware it's handy to get an export of the system properties. Click the Windows button and search for msinfo32. This tool lets you export system settings.


You'll just die if you can't print your CV in "Groovy70sFunkSoulFontMan".

Serial Numbers

For those of you who have misplaced your official documentation/cd box, you can sometimes get the serial number of applications that use them in Help\About. Also search your e-mail if applicable.


If you have any virtual machines on your PC, either copy those or go through this whole process for them also. Speaking of VMware, consider a complete clone of your current version of Windows, or an import of important data like your e-mail. That way you can refer back to old stuff from a virtual machine on your new installation.

Rips / Disk images

If you rip CDs, DVDs, or have other software that uses large disk images, check for these files.


Don't forget the other partitions on the disk, especially if you have a dual boot setup.