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How to transfer files to Windows 8 computer from Windows XP computer

Posted on 2015-02-02
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2015-02-19
A tech in a store told me I could transfer files/documents, etc. to my new Windows 8 computer from my XP. He said to use a Cat5 ethernet cable to connect the 2 machines. I thought the XP computer would be visible from Windows Explorer like any device connected externally, but nothing happened. I only had one monitor, and that was connected to the new desktop. So I had the connection with cable to the XP with the machine turned on, but not able to visualize anything on it.

Can anyone tell me how to do this? Was the advice correct? There seem to be so many ways to backup/transfer files, but machine to machine seems the easiest, IF it can work.

Help would be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Question by:sheana11
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Expert Comment

by:John Easton
ID: 40583619
Do you have WiFi?  If so, you should be able to connect both computers to the WiFi network and then you should be able to see the other computer from the Network link in any Windows Explorer folder.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40583625
>>  He said to use a Cat5 ethernet cable to connect the 2 machines.

Yes, that's possible but extremely messy.  You also need a crossover Cat 5 plug as well.  You also have to set up networking manually (TCP addressing) and then configure Windows 8.1 to handle Windows XP network authentication and setup shares on the computers.

Straight plugging ethernet cable from one computer to another won't work.

Buy yourself a USB external hard drive and use that to copy data across.  Not only will you save yourself the networking problems involved you can use the USB external hard drive as a backup system.  You do have a backup system for all of your data don't you?
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Expert Comment

ID: 40583633
in file explorer window try to put
if it prompts for username/password then connectivity is ok, otherwise as dbrunton said you have to manully set network ip to be  on same network
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LVL 70

Accepted Solution

garycase earned 2000 total points
ID: 40584166
"... Yes, that's possible but extremely messy."  ==> ??   I don't think there's anything "messy" about a simple network connection :-)

"... You also need a crossover Cat 5 plug as well."  ==>  Almost certainly NOT true.   For at least a decade  virtually all Ethernet adapters have been auto-sensing ... even if the old XP adapter isn't, the new Windows 8 machine's almost certainly is.

"... Straight plugging ethernet cable from one computer to another won't work." => Actually it will, but it does require that you set the IP addresses manually (and both in the same subnet).    It's certainly simpler to plug both machines into a router.

"... Buy yourself a USB external hard drive and use that to copy data across.  Not only will you save yourself the networking problems involved you can use the USB external hard drive as a backup system."  ==>   Absolutely an excellent way to proceed.    As also noted, you should always have a backup of your data -- so the external drive will give you a place to maintain those backups as well.

IF you simply want to do what you initially asked, you first have to connect your monitor to the XP machine, and set it up so you can share the data you want to access.   Highlight the folder(s) you want to share [e.g. C:\Documents and Settings\<Your User Name>\My Documents ];  right-click;  click on "Sharing and Security";  check the "Share this folder on the network" button; and click Apply, then OK.    Then go to Control Panel - Network Connections; do a right-click, Properties; and be sure "File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks" is enabled -- add it if not.

Finally, right-click on My Computer; select Properties;  click on Computer Name; and click Change.   Set the Computer Name to an easy-to-remember name [e.g. "XP-Computer"], and change the workgroup to an easy-to-remember name as well [e.g. "sheana"].   Click OK, then reboot the computer.

Be sure you know the user name and password for the XP system (write them down).

Note that if you don't have a router, you'll also need to set up the network addressing for this to work -- if that's the case, post back and we can "walk you through" doing that.

Now you can shut down the XP computer and change the monitor to your new one.

...  On the new computer, change the Workgroup to the name you used above; then reboot.

You should now be able to simply run Windows Explorer, and click on Network and "see" the files you shared on your XP system.    If for some reason it doesn't show, then in the address bar just type \\<computer-name>\  and press enter [Where <computer-name> is the name you gave the computer ... e.g. "XP-Computer"] and it should show with no problem.    Depending on the specific security settings (which I didn't have you change), you may also need to enter the user ID and password for the XP system.

If you decide to just use an external drive, you don't need to bother with the networking.   In that case, just connect the external drive to your XP computer while you have a monitor attached;  create a folder on the external drive for the data you want to copy [e.g. "Data from XP"];  then copy EVERYTHING you might possible want to that folder [My Documents folder; Favorites; e-mail; address book; and any data for other programs that isn't stored in the My Documents folder.     Once the copy completes, you simply shut down the system; move the monitor to your new PC; and boot.   Then connect the external drive to it and you can just copy the data from the external drive to the new PC.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40584240
First, I could be misinterpreting your skill level, but it sounds like you're not very computer savvy at all.  

Second, the external drive as an intermediary is probably your best bet, if you don't have a friend who can help you - The advice offered was correct, but very basic and there are a LOT of factors and things that could prevent it if you don't adjust the settings on both systems appropriately.

One option would to remove your old hard drive and install it in an enclosure.  This is RELATIVELY simple.  If you aren't experienced though, I would suggest asking a computer savvy friend for help or bringing the old computer to a shop that could do it for you - I would say a fair price would be $25 for the "service" of transferring the hard drive from the computer to an external enclosure - the external enclosure can be $15-50 though.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40584283
Agree using an external drive is the best option => it's (a) the simplest approach; and (b) provides you with a backup drive for your data.

Removing your old drive and putting it in an enclosure is indeed a simple way to "create" an external drive ... but using your old drive for this has a few disadvantages:  (1) it's old;  (2) it's likely much smaller than any new external drive would be; (3) it's possibly not even a SATA drive (not really a problem as long as you get the right kind of external enclosure); and (4) it still requires a bit of knowledge to copy the files off of the drive, since you'd have to navigate XP's folder structure.

I'd simply buy an inexpensive external drive and use it to transfer your data.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 40584306
The problem I have with using an external drive is that you could always miss something.  Some older programs may store data in places you don't normally expect or use and failing to copy it could become a problem at some later date.  By removing the drive and preserving it as an external drive, you are NOT trying to use it as additional storage - it's an archive only, so drive size doesn't matter.  Further, there are still IDE enclosures available, so even if it's not SATA, that's really not a concern.  

I favor the external approach (or better still, using a tool like Disk2VHD to create a copy of the drive) but then we're getting potentially more complicated.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40584350
Agree it wouldn't matter if it was IDE (as I noted above).   ... and it's certainly true that you need to be sure any data not stored in My Documents is captured (as I also noted).    

I also favor images => in fact the FIRST thing I always do before working on any system is IMAGE the drive, so no matter what happens it can always be restored to the original state.    In this case, what I'd do is buy an external drive;  IMAGE the XP drive to that external drive;  then copy the data from the XP system to the XP drive (so it didn't have to be extracted from the image unless there was something that was overlooked);  and then there'd be no further use for the XP system.
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Expert Comment

ID: 40585664
don't forget to export  your favorites and mails
many picture software keep the pictures in a folder in their installation; usually Program Files\"softwareNNN"
so look there also

what i often do, when i'm not sure where data is, is making a search for document types, like ***.doc, ***.jpg, ***xls

Author Comment

ID: 40618848
I joined EE because I am not computer savvy, but more so than most people my age who are not in tech as a profession.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 40618855
Thank you for explaining this to someone who is not computer savvy.

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