One of the biggest challenges I always had in the field was in upgrading workstations from an environment that previously had a non DC setup, nothing but workstations; was in migrating data and configuration with the least amount of disruption.

In the field you’re paid by the hour, so if a problem happens you get paid for it.   But you also want the client to be happy at the end.   You need to get as much of the old setup swapped over so you’re not digging about for passwords, id’s, cookies etc etc etc.

Because on the smaller sites the word “Documentation” is about as common as “Network Administrator”

One of the nicest features in Windows 7 is the Easy Transfer.   It’s known by a more common name on the Enterprise level as the “User State Migration Tool”.   Oh by the way… It’s free.

In Windows 7 I can actually run a Wizard that will allow me as an Administrator to gather all the settings in the User’s Registry, files, data, EVERYTHING to move it somewhere else.   The beautiful parts about this process it is 1) Non Destructive it DOES NOT MOVE THE DATA and 2) I don’t need to know the UserID password to perform this process just Administrative credentials.


Now what it’s DESIGNED for is to move from one computer to another.   What it CAN do (just as easily) is move from one Configuration (locally logged in user) to another (Domain User)

When you start up the easy Transfer it will normally ask you where to save the data.  Run the Wizard as normal and backup the data.

Once the process is complete reboot the system and login as a Domain User.  Start typing Easy Transfer in your Search bar, right click and “Run as Administrator”.  Re run the Wizard again, specifying this is the New PC and browse to the location where your stored the Migration Data file.   Before completing the Wizard and allowing the data migrate back you’ll see an easily missed option on the lower right side that says “Advanced”.

When you select advanced you’ll see it prompting for the old and new profile.  By default it will recreate the account on the new system.   You can choose ANY profile already setup on that computer (including a Domain user ID) as the destination.

Allow the process to finish the Migration and you’re done.  You may have to log off and then log on to take on the new settings.


But in the field I didn’t always have the luxury of having an extra hard drive to play with.  Sometimes space was scarce.   So in this scenario we can cheat a little and just get the Configuration and use a cut and paste for the data (since it’s on the same hard drive)

So what you’re going to do in Easy Transfer, after it runs it’s initial scan, is to DESELECT whatever you’re not moving.  Typically Music, Documents, Etc (since this transfer will occur on the same hard drive we don’t NEED to replicate data; just move it.

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Of course you may want to DESELECT other profiles that may not need to switch to domain membership.  Some local accounts might be a component of Visual Studio and don’t need any data migration or configuration change since they are a part of the computer.   And again, we’re concerned with migrating the configuration to the “new side”.  I usually finish the migration like normal, seize ownership of the old folder from the user profile and just do a cut and paste from the “old” Documents to the new Documents.   It’s a lot faster (although less safe) that way if you don’t have the option of having an external hard drive. 

Of course of the amount of data/configuration fits the present free space on the physical drive I say go for it and back it all up anyhow.  We don’t trust Murphy.


But it does work.  I’ve used it in the past and as I am typing the article, just used it to switch my own laptop’s local user data onto my newly setup domain Controller.  All of my email, Id’s passwords carried over with no issues as well as all my blogging data.


Remember, if you’re stuck?  There’s almost always a solution.

The Energized Tech