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Windows 7: A big question that could save me LOTS (weeks) of time.

20 Jul 2010   #1

Windows 7
A big question that could save me LOTS (weeks) of time.

Well Here's the deal.

I basically have an empty computer running windows 7 right now. I did have an old computer also running windows 7. I also have an external drive. Now I copied the "Program Files" folder from my old computer to the external drive... I want to get all my applications back onto the new computer. (I don't have access to my old computer anymore.

Here is the question.

By simply copying my "Program Files" to my new computer, Will all of the applications automatically work and count as being installed? Or is there a lot more to it?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #2

Windows 10 Pro x64 x3, Ubuntu

sorry, but there is a lot more to it

There are registry entries and possible other links to related software settings that need to be re-created.

If you had access to the old system it may have been possible to use Windows Easy Transfer to copy these extra items to your new system but even this method can fail if programs are not written to follow Microsoft guidelines exactly
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #3

Windows® 8 Pro (64-bit)

My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Jul 2010   #4

Windows 7 Enterprise

Short answer, no.
When you orginally installed the software on the old computer, it added a bunch of registry keys that it needs for it to work.

Longer answer, maybe.
You will need to get into your old registry and manually hunt down each key/value of all the software.
Most of these could be found in the hkey_current_user, or hkey_local_machine hives.
You cant just copy over the entire registry as this could crash your new computer.
This could take forever (or at least weeks) to find everything you'll need to get that specific app to work. Many bigger apps (like adobe stuff) often have funky keys that you probably wont recognise as being for that app.

Also, if any of the apps have other system files, they'd be in c:\windows\system32 too. They too are near impossible to find if you dont know which file you should be looking for.

It would be best and easier to reinstall the apps on your new machine if possible.

However, there are some apps that can be just copied and pasted if they can be run as standalone apps.
Such as I've managed to get Quake2 and Need For Speed Underground2 to work by copy/pasting their root folders to a new machine.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #5

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


There's a lot more to it, I'm afraid most of your applications won't work. You can only move so called portable applications by copying them.

Installing an application is lot more than just putting the files in a folder ( For instance, most programs write specified information to Windows Registry and some put data and information files to hidden AppData (C:\Users\Your_Username\AppData) and ProgramData (C:\ProgramData) folders.

You can always try, but prepare yourself for a disappointment.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #6

Windows 7 Enterprise

Wow, quick responses already
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #7

Windows 7

hehe i know and xarden, its not even your topic :)

Can you give me a list of all the folders that would possibly be dependencies for my applications. I have all my old computer files on the external, but not the old computer itself
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #8

Main - Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-Bit; 2nd - Windows Server 2008 R2

It is not the preferred way to do it, but I am pretty sure you'll have success with this:

Image the old drive over to the new hard drive, boot up, then let Windows 7 discover all the "new" hardware. I have successfully done this myself and am posting this from my main computer which went through two motherboard changes in the past month. (Long story...)

If the systems are radically different or you had a RAID thing going on it probably won't work unless you are very lucky. If the alternative it to set everything up from scratch (the only way to get a truly "clean" system), what have you got to lose? If it doesn't work you'll know it in a matter of an hour or two and be no worse off than when you started.

As always, back up your data first! :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #9

Windows 7 Enterprise

Yea, I thought I was going to be the first to reply, but when I did I got beaten to it. Twice.

Its pretty hard to say what files/folders are required for each app, without knowing what apps they are.
Kari also sums it up pretty well.

It really is more hassle than its worth.
I've been there... still there with one of my machines actually... Cant get my Fruityloops back

Its best to reinstall the apps, and salvage whatever userdata files you have for them.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Jul 2010   #10

Windows 7

Well I am relieved that I still have my program Files folder. This way I know what applications I need to install...

I have disks scattered around my room and downloads that I need to re-authenticate (ie adobe cs4)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 A big question that could save me LOTS (weeks) of time.

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