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How to Install and Upgrade Windows 8

Objective 1.3: Migrate and configure user data

An installation solution that commonly best suits businesses is called migration. This involves saving portions of the current installation, such as the user account and data and files, by backing them up to a temporary store while you reimage the computer. This saved state data can later be returned to the computer.

Choosing to migrate

Migration to Windows 8 is recommended for many reasons, especially for Windows XP installations. For example, you can ensure that no problems associated with the previous Windows installation, including malware and viruses, carry over to the new Windows 8 installation. You can also easily restore user accounts with not just the main enterprise-set account permissions but also a user’s individual preferences.

You can perform a data migration from one computer to another in two ways: by using Windows Easy Transfer, a feature built into Windows 8, and by using the User State Migration Tool (USMT), which is provided as part of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT).

Migration using Windows Easy Transfer

Don’t think of Windows Easy Transfer as a basic tool to help consumers switch to another computer at home because it’s much more useful and full featured than you might imagine. For example, you can use it to migrate files, settings, and accounts from one computer to another over a network and in a secure manner. Follow these steps to perform a migration with Windows Easy Transfer:

  1. Start Windows Easy Transfer on the host and target PCs. On the target (Windows 8) PC, search for Windows Easy Transfer from the Start screen. On the host PC, run Windows Easy Transfer from a Windows 8 installation DVD or flash drive; you can find it in the E:\support\migwiz folder (assuming E is the letter associated with the installation media). You need to run the program Migwiz.exe (see Figure 1-6).

    FIGURE 1-6

    FIGURE 1-6 Launching Windows Easy Transfer on the host PC

    On startup, Windows Easy Transfer tells you what it can transfer (see Figure 1-7). This, frankly, is anything and everything from the host PC except the operating system. This makes Windows Easy Transfer a very powerful tool.

    FIGURE 1-7

    FIGURE 1-7 Starting Windows Easy Transfer

  2. Decide how you want to transfer the user accounts and data (see Figure 1-8). You can perform this transfer using an external USB hard disk or, if you have one large enough, a USB flash drive. You can also perform the transfer over a wired or wireless network, although using a wireless network isn’t recommended in case the signal is lost during the transfer.

    FIGURE 1-8

    FIGURE 1-8 Choosing how to transfer the user data

    Until now, you have been selecting the same options on both host and target PCs.

  3. Specify which is the host (old) PC and which is the target (new) PC (see Figure 1-9).

    FIGURE 1-9

    FIGURE 1-9 Choosing which is the target PC

    If you are transferring files over a network, Windows Easy Transfer will give you a security code on the host PC that needs to be typed into the target PC to make the connection (see Figure 1-10).

    FIGURE 1-10

    FIGURE 1-10 Security code from Windows Easy Transfer

  4. Select what to transfer from the host PC while the target PC waits for the transfer to begin. The choices screen is simply laid out and easy to use, with Customize and Advanced links available to help you choose which aspects of a user’s account and what else on the computer’s hard drive to transfer (see Figure 1-11).

    FIGURE 1-11

    FIGURE 1-11 Choosing what to migrate in Windows Easy Transfer

Migration using the User State Migration Tool (USMT)

You can find the command-line User State Migration Tool in the C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.0\Assessment and Deployment Kit\User State Migration Tool folder of your hard disk after you install the ADK. Here, you will see different x86 and amd64 versions of the tool; you should use the one that matches the operating system you are using. (On 32-bit Windows versions, this path will read C:\Program Files\Windows Kit… and so on, because the x86 part of the folder address isn’t used.)

The main tools in this folder, for which you will need to open a command prompt, are as follows:

  • ScanState.exe. The migration tool for files, settings, and accounts from the host computer.

  • LoadState.exe. The migration import tool for the target computer.

  • MigApp.xml. This tool contains details of software that migrates from a Windows 7 computer to a Windows 8 computer.

  • MigUser.xml. This tool contains details of the user accounts to migrate.

  • MigDocs.xml. This tool contains details of the documents and files to migrate.

  • Custom.xml. This tool enables you to create custom XML files that can migrate additional files and data, such as a line-of-business (LOB) application, or to modify the default migration behavior.

  • Config.xml. This tool can be used to exclude certain items from migration. You can create this file using the /genconfig option in the scanstate tool.

You run the ScanState command-line tool on the host computer with the following format:

scanstate [StorePath] [/i:[path\]FileName] [Options]

The /i[path\]FileName option specifies an XML file that contains rules determining what’s to be migrated. You can specify this option multiple times to include all your necessary .xml files.

With those options is a great menu to choose from, and you can find descriptions of them by using the /? switch with the ScanState.exe command. Another switch that you certainly want to know about is /hardlink, which you can use to create hard links to the migration store location. If you use this switch, you must also use the /nocompress switch.

On the target PC, you would use the LoadState command with this format:

Loadstate [StorePath] [/i:[path\]FileName] [Options]

Again, you can read about many command-line switches with the /? switch, but the most important is /lac:[password] (local account create), which specifies that a local user account is to be created on the target computer. By default, the account will be disabled if it doesn’t already exist on the target computer, and you should use the /lae (local account enable) switch to enable it.

Using folder redirection

You might want to consider redirecting a user’s files, or all users’ files, to a central server when you migrate the user files to a new Windows 8 computer. This isn’t the same as users having a roaming profile where their files and documents are always kept on the server as well as on their own computer and synched whenever they log in. This method uses either a server in the office or one of the computers as a file server.

All files and documents for all users will always be stored solely on this central server and nowhere else. Doing so has certain advantages, not the least of which is file security if anybody uses a laptop, because files stored on this computer won’t be available outside the immediate network.

You can add the central storage, which can be per user or shared between users, to the main libraries in Windows 8 as follows:

  1. Create a folder on the target computer for the network share—for example, C:\Shared.

  2. Create another folder within that folder—for example, C:\Shared\Documents.

  3. Select the subfolder that you just created. On the Home tab on the ribbon, click Easy Access, and then click Include In Library.

  4. Delete the folder.

  5. Press Win+X to open the Administration menu and then click Command Prompt (Admin).

  6. Type mklink /d followed by the path of the folder you just deleted and the path of the network folder—for example, mklink /d C:\Share\Documents\\Server\SharedDocs—to create a symbolic link between the two folders.

    Doing so adds the network files to your library, something that can’t be done from within File Explorer itself.

You can also use the Sync Center in Windows 8 to maintain a synchronized copy of the server files on the local computer—useful if the user is working on a laptop—by right-clicking the folder you want to make available and clicking Always Available Offline from the options that appear (see Figure 1-12).

FIGURE 1-12

FIGURE 1-12 Syncing a network folder

The first synchronization will then take place, which can take some time if you have many files, and a copy of the network files will then be kept on the local computer.

To manage this sync partnership, open the Sync Center by searching for it at the Start screen. You will want to use two main options most of all:

  • To manage the schedule when the files are synched with the server, double-click the sync relationship in the main Sync Center view and then click the Schedule link that appears on the toolbar. Figure 1-13 shows how you can set the frequency or specific times when synchronization takes place.

    FIGURE 1-13

    FIGURE 1-13 Changing the synch schedule for offline files

  • The other aspect of synchronization over which you might want finer control is the offline copy of the server files. To access these controls, click the Manage Offline Files link. Here you can enable and disable synchronization, but on the Disk Usage tab you can change the amount of local disk space allocated for synchronized files, which is useful for laptops with small hard disks. You can also remove any temporary files that might not have been cleaned up (see Figure 1-14). On the Encryption tab you can also force encryption of the offline files, which can be useful if those files include anything that would be covered by data protection legislation, such as personal details of individuals.

    FIGURE 1-14

    FIGURE 1-14 Managing offline files

Objective summary

  • To migrate user accounts and files from one computer to another, use either the Windows Easy Transfer tool or the User State Migration Tool.

  • The ScanState command offers many more configurability options than Windows Easy Transfer but requires some knowledge of XML.

  • You can relocate user files to a server or central file store and still maintain access to them in Windows 8 libraries.

Objective review

Answer the following questions to test your knowledge in this objective. You can find the correct answers to these questions and explanations of why each answer choice is correct or incorrect in the “Answers” section at the end of this chapter.

  1. In which folder on the Windows 8 installation media will you find the Windows Easy Transfer tool?

    1. \support\wet

    2. \support\migwiz

    3. \support\migration

    4. \sources\migwiz

  2. Which .xml file should you use to specify items to exclude from a migration?

    1. Custom.xml

    2. Exclude.xml

    3. Config.xml

    4. MigDocs.xml

  3. Which LoadState command-line switch or switches are required to create a user account on a new computer?

    1. /createuser

    2. /lua and /lae

    3. /lac and /lae

    4. /lac

  4. How can you make server files available on a local computer?

    1. By applying them to a local library

    2. By setting their offline availability status

    3. By setting up a new sync partnership

    4. Server files are available only when connected to the local network

  5. Setting a sync partnership between server files and a local PC stores how many of the server files locally?

    1. All shared server files

    2. All server files up to a maximum specified local storage amount

    3. The most recently accessed server files

    4. Server files that don’t have their archive switch activated