Windows Easy Transfer and 64-Bit Vista

I have been running 64-bit Vista on my laptop for some time now.  Overall, it has been stable and fast, with a few compatibility issues – no Cisco VPN client for 64-bit Vista, and no support for the SIIG USB 2.0 to VGA dongle.  On Friday, I decided that I was going to rebuild my hard drive to 32-bit Vista.

I proceeded to plug in an external 100 GB USB drive as a destination for my files and settings.  I then launched Windows Easy Transfer (WET).  It ran for an hour or so and transferred my files and settings into an image file on my external hard drive.  So far, so good.  I then inserted the 32-bit Vista DVD and launched setup.  I did the install, overwriting all of my previous files.  It all went without a hitch.  I reconnected my external hard drive and launched WET on the newly installed 32-bit Vista instance.  I promptly received an error message from WET telling me that the image file was from 64-bit Vista (no kidding) and that it was not able to transfer to 32-bit Vista.  What?  Seriously?  It waited until NOW to tell me this?

I was left feeling a bit helpless and lost for a few minutes.  All of my files, gone.  I looked on the net for some 3rd party tool that would crack open this image file and allow me to access the files inside.  Alas, there was nothing.  Fortunately for me, a colleague has the exact same laptop as me, and he is the Mac guy, so he never uses it.  Additionally, I had a spare hard drive of my own that fit into both laptops.

And so I removed his hard drive and put my old drive into his laptop.  I installed 64-bit Vista on that drive/laptop.  I then connected my external hard drive to that laptop and initiated WET.  I spent the next hour or so transferring my files and settings to this newly built machine.  Once it finished, I manually copied My Documents and my PST file from this temporary 64-bit laptop back onto the external hard drive.  I then took the external hard drive and connected it to my laptop with 32-bit Vista, and I manually copied all of my files to their respective destinations.  What should have been a 3-hour project took almost all day.

And now my questions:  Why doesn’t Microsoft tell you at the very beginning of WET that it only works 64-bit to 64-bit?  Why doesn’t WET allow you to specify the destination OS version?  How can Microsoft possibly call this Easy?

Bottom Line – If you are planning to “downgrade” your operating system from 64-bit to 32-bit (for whatever reason), do not use Windows Easy Transfer.  Copy your files and settings manually.

As always, leave a comment if you have questions, and I will do my best to answer or clarify.


About Tim Smeltzer
I am a husband, father, and technologist. While I am very much interested in almost all technology, my current area of specialty is secure mobile messaging. You will find me blogging from time to time on mobile technology - what I think is cool, what I think is not cool, and how to do things. Please be nice if you leave me comments. I am really trying to help!

One Response to Windows Easy Transfer and 64-Bit Vista

  1. Hi, interesting post. I have been thinking about this topic,so thanks for blogging. I will likely be coming back to your blog. Keep up the good posts

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