What's the quickest way to migrate the software installed on my Win 7 x64 rig to a new one?

I'm running a 4 year old Win 7x64 I7 rig (HP Pavillion Elite) with a 1 TB hard drive. I'd like to upgrade it before it dies on me (plus I want a snappier machine with an SSD) but it's got so much stuff installed on it, it would take days to complete and even then, months later I'd be discovering that I forgot to install such and such a utility.

When I got this machine, I remember using PC Mover (from Laplink) to move all of the installed apps over from my old XP machine. That worked for the most part and proved to be useful.

Since I don't need to change my version of windows this time around, I was thinking it would be great if I could simply clone the existing hard drive somehow and then drop it into a new box.

It's a development rig running Win 7x64, Visual Studio 2010, MS Office 2010 x64, Adobe Photoshop CS, Premiere CS, Camtasia etc. I imagine there might be licensing and activation issues but I'm happy to pay if I can figure out how to upgrade my hardware quickly.

What's the quickest way to migrate the software installed on my current rig to a new one?

Is this the type of thing I could hire a consultant or Nerds-on-Site type of outfit to do?

I'd refresh my hardware every year if it wasn't such a long and involved, not to mention error prone process.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Emmanuel AdebayoGlobal Windows Infrastructure Engineer - ConsultantCommented:
Yes you can use Windows Easy Transfer

Windows Easy Transfer is a step-by-step guide for transferring files and settings from one computer running Windows to another. It helps you choose what to move to your new computer, such as user accounts, Internet favorites, and e-mail. It also lets you decide which method to use and then performs the transfer

Open Windows Easy Transfer by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Easy Transfer, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Easy Transfer.¿ Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.


Try ZInstall

FYI - I have not personally tried it. I try to script all my installs to use silent install option if available (at least all the apps that I install / uninstall frequently).

Another option that you may want to try in future is running your apps in a virtual machine. For example, I have a Windows 7 running in VMWare Workstation 9.0 that holds all my licensed software or anything that is a PITA to re-install. When I need to backup my data, I just backup the VMware files. If I want to move the VM (virtual machine) to another machine, I just copy the VM over.

Let me know if you need more information about using VM.

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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A bit of counterpoint ....

=>  What Core i7 do you have?    If it's an i7-2600 or newer there is NO reason to upgrade at this time.    All you need to do is replace your main drive with a good SSD.

What backup drive(s) do you have?    ... and what is the partition structure of your primary drive?   [e.g. is it a single 1TB partition; or do you have it split into an OS and data partitition)

Regardless of the answer to that, what is the current utilization of the OS partititon [i.e. if you right-click on C: and do Properties, what is the size of the drive, and how much space is free?).

I suspect all you need to do is a bit of partition restructuring and move your current OS partition to an SSD and you'll be very happy :-)
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if you want to move your applications, try these :
      http://www.funduc.com/app_mover.htm                  Application mover      
      http://www.laplink.com/pcmover/pcmover.html            PC mover

do you have an OEM version of windows?  (you said :  HP Pavillion Elite)
then you can't move your OS to other hardware
ou81aswellAuthor Commented:
Thanks guys. I'm tempted to play with the partition table and move everything onto a 1 GB (or 2 450GB) SSDs but using a virtual machine seems to be the best way forward.

I need to find someone in the Ottawa (Canada) area who could do this for me as I just don't have the time (ok, I have the time... just not the patience).
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
It's actually quite simple to migrate to an SSD ... ESPECIALLY if you buy one large enough so you don't have to restructure your data.

While that's a challenge when you're coming from a 1TB drive, the prices have dropped enough that it's reasonable to consider.

If you right-click on C: and do Properties, how much space is actually used?   You can actually migrate to SSDs smaller than that; but it's trivial if your SSD has at least that much space.

The only SSDs I recommend these days are Intel's 335 and 5xx series, and Crucial's M500 units.    The Crucial units are currently priced a good bit better, so that's what you'd likely want to use.

If you're actually using a significant percentage of your drive; and don't want to "mess" with reallocation of anything, then you could get a 960GB Crucial M500, which has dropped a LOT in the past year (it's now $580):

... a 512GB unit is $399:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148531

No matter which SSD you buy, the simplest way to migrate to it is to use this $20 utility:

Basically you just connect the SSD; run the utility; then shut down and replace your old drive with the SSD.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... by the way, which i7 do you have ??
ou81aswellAuthor Commented:
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz

The hard disk has 2 partitions.

C: is 917GB with 450GB used.
D: is a 14GB Factory Image disk.

 Base Board
 Product TRUCKEE
 Vendor American Megatrends Inc.
 Release Date 09/17/2010
 BIOS Version String 5.29  
 ROM Size 1.00 MB
 Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz
 Name Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 920 @ 2.67GHz
 Cores 4
 Threads 8
 Current Speed 2.66 GHz
 Technology 45 nm
 Features MMX, PSE36, EM64T, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, IDA, XD, VMX
 L1 Instruction Cache 4 x 32.00 kB
 L1 Data Cache 4 x 32.00 kB
 L2 Cache 4 x 256.00 kB
 L3 Cache 8.00 MB
not sure if you saw my comment :
do you have an OEM version of windows?  (you said :  HP Pavillion Elite)
then you can't move your OS to other hardware
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
You could easily move that entire OS partition to a 512GB SSD with no reallocation of data, shrinking of the partition, etc.

I'd buy this:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148531

Install it (you'll need a SATA cable if you don't have one)

And then, to make it very simple, just buy this and use it to migrate your OS to the SSD:

[This migration could actually be done with some free imaging tools; but you indicated you want to keep this really simple -- and that tool will do exactly that.]

Once you've migrated it to the SSD, you can simply reformat the 1st partition on your current hard drive and use it as a data drive.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
... one other note:  Your current i7-920 scores 5,026 on Passmark.    While it's true that a new, 4th generation Haswell i7-4770 scores about twice that (10,006), it's also true that very few operations use any significant % of your CPU.    [Do Ctrl-Alt-Del to open Task Manager, and watch the CPU utilization for a while to see how much you typically use]

You'd see FAR more benefit from moving to an SSD than you will from changing processors.

I'd at least do the SSD upgrade first ... then if you're not satisfied, just buy a new Haswell system and put your new SSD in that :-)
ou81aswellAuthor Commented:

"I'd at least do the SSD upgrade first ... then if you're not satisfied, just buy a new Haswell system and put your new SSD in that :-) "

That implies I could clone my computer with a brand new box and not have to re-install everything doesn't it?

Come to think of it, that's what I originally set out to do: take my current OS/Hard disk and copy it to a brand new disk (SSD) and plop that new disk into a brand new box. I'd keep the old box around as a backup.

But then nomus reminded me that I have an OEM version of Windows 7 from HP. It's probably worse than that because the machine came with Vista and a free upgrade to Win 7. After I applied the free upgrade to Win 7, I also updated it to Windows ultimate. I'm not sure what this means when it comes to the OS booting from the copied disk inside a brand new box with a completely different mobo.

Does the Paragon software handle this situation? I'm happy to purchase a fresh copy of windows if necessary and am not really trying to save money as much as trying to clone my development rig into a "fresh" machine.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
If you simply move to an SSD, there's no problem.

If you get a new system, then you won't be able to use your old system -- when I said you could simply use your new SSD in that, I meant you could use the DRIVE ... not the OS and software from the old system.    As already noted, it's an OEM version tied to an HP system.    [Note that it probably WOULD transfer just fine to a new HP system ... but that's a violation of the Microsoft licensing terms]

Obviously you can move all of your DATA with no problem to a new system ... but it's much more of a hassle to move the OS.

I think you'd be very surprised at how fast your current system will be with an SSD :-)
ou81aswellAuthor Commented:
Yes. An SSD is tempting. I'll probably pick one up soon but I'm still faced with my original problem of wanting to replace my rig with a brand-new one before my 4 year old one starts to act up (which it may or may not end up doing).

I think the correct solution to my problem is to build a super rig and use a VM. This will take many hours (and I'd still be scrambling months later to install stuff I'd forgotten about!) as I would have to re-install everything by hand so I'm going to continue to hum and ha and at some point down the road bite the bullet.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Virtualization is indeed a nice choice - it has the distinct advantage that anytime you move to a newer system, you need only install the hypervisor, and can then run your virtualized OS => fully configured with all programs, etc. with no need to ever reinstall them.

Works great as long as you aren't changing OS's.
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