How to Migrate a Windows User to Different Windows 10 PC

Copy the file, exchange of data. Transfer File Concept - Vectorhanss / Shutterstock

Microsoft has removed Easy Transfer from Windows 10, but you can still move user profiles between computers. Microsoft accounts are easy to transfer. you can move files manually. Transwiz (free) and PCmover (pay) also do a good job.

Easy transfer used to make things easy

Microsoft introduced Windows Easy Transfer with Windows Vista and supported in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. It was a great free option to bring your local user settings and profiles from an old computer to a new computer. From Windows 8, you can choose to sign in with a Microsoft account. Connecting with the same account on any device would transfer many of your settings.

When Microsoft released Windows 10, it has not advanced Easy Transfer. Instead, Microsoft chose to associate with Laplink and for a short time offered free access to its PCmover software. Unfortunately, this free offer is no longer available. If you want to use PCmover, you must spend at least $ 30 now.

What is the best way to move a Windows user profile?

We have studied several methods to manually move Windows user profiles from one PC to another. But in each case, we could not always move the profile without further troubleshooting afterwards. We can not recommend a process that requires as many manual corrections of file permissions and other complicated tasks.

This gives you some reliable options to move your account: Convert your local account to a Microsoft account, use free software like Transwiz or buy PCmover. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Converting your local account to a Microsoft account is easy and free. You do not need to download any external software. But everything will not be moved. Files that you have outside OneDrive and third-party application settings such as Photoshop will not be moved.
TransWiz is a simple and free software for transferring a single profile account from one device to another. If you have multiple profiles, you will spend more time exporting and importing because it does not handle multiple accounts well. In addition, the account to which you are connected can not be transferred. Therefore, you will need at least two accounts on the source machine. You will also need an external drive to move your data.
PCmover is the most powerful option. It can move multiple profiles at once and you can easily transfer to your network with a USB transfer cable or an external hard drive. In addition, it can transfer files, settings and even some programs. However, it is the most expensive option, starting at $ 30.

Option 1: Use a Microsoft account and transfer files

If you are using Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, your Microsoft account profile will automatically be transferred with a connection. If you are currently using a local account instead of a Microsoft account, you can consider converting it to a Microsoft account. Some features, such as OneDrive and device encryptionwill not work without it.

It will not bring everything; you will still need to manually transfer important files and reinstall programs with an external hard drive. Think of it as a quick way to change Windows settings and start cloud syncing.

The conversion process is easy, especially if you already have a Microsoft account. If you do not, you will have to create one. You will need to start this process on the PC with the account you wish to transfer.

Click the Start button and then the Settings dialog box. Then choose Accounts, then "Sign in with a Microsoft account." Then follow the installation wizard.

Then we will move the data manually Using the Windows 10 File History Tool. After connecting a hard drive, go to Settings> Update & Security> Backup. Select Add Drive, and then your external drive.

backup settings dialog box, indicating options for adding a drive

Windows will start making a backup automatically. By default, the backup includes the Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders. If you want additional folders, click on the text "More Options" and choose the folders to add.

Take your external to your new computer and plug it in. Return to Settings> Update & Security> Backup, and then configure the file history again using the previous external drive. Click on more options, scroll down (after the list of folders) and click on "Restore files from a current backup".

Navigate to your most recent backup, choose the folders you want to restore, then click the green button.

File History Restore dialog box, showing the registered folders.

You will need to reinstall the programs to finish things.

RELATED: How to use Windows file history to back up your data

Option 2: Download TransWiz (Free)

Transwiz profile selection dialog box, with the selected TestUser profile.

Transwiz is a great option to consider if you want to transfer one or two local accounts and do not want to convert your account into a Microsoft account. However, you will still need to move some items manually just as you do for the Microsoft account conversion process. You will also need an external hard drive.

First, download and install Transwiz on the old and the new machine. The program is free.

On the old computer, if you only have one profile, create one with administrator rights. Then move on to that. If you have more than one profile, make sure that at least two of them have administrator rights and choose the profile you have not yet transferred. Transwiz can not transfer a profile if you are currently logged in.

Start Transwiz, select "I want to transfer data to another computer", and then click Next. Then choose the profile you want to change and click Next.

Choose your external drive as the location to save. click Next. Then enter a password if you want one. If you do not, leave both fields blank and click OK.

Transwiz will create a zip file on your external drive. Take it to your new computer, open Transwiz at this location and choose the option to restore data. Point it to the zip file on the drive (no need to unzip it yourself), and Transwiz will do the rest. A reboot of the machine is required to complete the profile addition.

Transwiz brings more user profiles, but no data. If you want your files and folders, use the file history process described above. You will also need to reinstall the programs.

Option 3: Buy PCmover ($ 30)

The two previous options work for moving profile data, but it's up to you to transfer files, folders, and reinstall programs. PCmover will not only migrate your user profile, it will also move files. More expensive options also transfer applications.

You will need download and pay for PCmover to begin. Several levels exist at different prices, but if you want to move all users and all applications, the "Express" version at $ 30 will do the trick. Laplink offers Ethernet and USB transfer cables that you can purchase. The program will transfer the data on your network. The cables are not necessary, but they can speed up the transfer process depending on the speed of your network. However, another benefit of this method if you can ignore the external drive.

Once you have installed PCmover on each PC, open it and click the Next buttons to provide the serial number when prompted. If you purchased a transfer cable, connect it to both computers.

PCMover with a box around the Next button.

On each PC, choose the other PC to connect. If you have a transfer cable connected, you can see two entries for your devices, one for the network connection and one for a cable connection. Select the cable connection for both. Then click on "OK".

Several computers dialogue with boxes around the options of the computer and the ok button.

PCmover will try to guess the direction in which to move the data. If you make a mistake, you can click on the words "Change transfer direction". Then, on the "new PC" (that is, the PC on which you are moving data), click on "Scan PC".

Depending on how much data you have to go through, you may have to wait while the program is scanning your PC. Finally, you will see a quantity of data to transfer. If you want more granular control, click on "Show Details".

From there, you can explore different categories and uncheck anything you do not want to transfer. Once you have everything to your liking, click on "Start Transfer".

In our case, it took about five minutes to transfer 20 GB of data via a USB 3 transfer cable. If you have more to move or use a network connection (or both), it may take longer. When PCmover finishes, you will be asked to restart your computer. Once the restart is complete, you are done.

It's a pity that Microsoft has removed EasyTransfer in Windows 10, but with Microsoft accounts and cloud options, like OneDrive and Dropbox or large external drives, it's less necessary than before. If you are looking for a free solution, Transwiz can always do a decent job. And, although Laplink's PCmover has an associated cost, the program works very well and is extremely easy to use.

If you have to move everything in your PC, you should take a closer look at PCmover.

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