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Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrade explained

Prepare your system for Microsoft's new OS

With Windows 7 now available, hundreds of PC users will be upgrading to Microsoft's new OS. However, the upgrade for those running Windows XP will be more complicated than for those running Vista.

I don't have a CD or DVD drive to burn discs, and I don't have an external drive. Where do I back up my data?

You're the perfect candidate for an online storage service. There are a number of consumer-grade online backup services, but two deserve special attention for this part of your Windows 7 prep: Mozy and Carbonite.

Mozy offers 2GB of storage space for free, and lets you buy an unlimited amount on a per-month basis for just $5 (£3) a month.

Carbonite, meanwhile, gives prospective customers an unlimited amount of storage free for 15 days, plenty of time to back up your data from Windows XP, then restore it to Windows 7 once that's on your PC.

Both Mozy and Carbonite work with Windows 7 now, according to the two companies.

Another contender is Microsoft's free SkyDrive, which maxes out at 25GB of storage space. The caveat: SkyDrive limits individual uploaded files to 50MB or less.

What about email? How do I prep that?

Tough one. If you're using Outlook Express - the now-obsolete free e-mail client bundled with Windows XP - you'll find a full set of instructions here on how to migrate the kit and caboodle to Windows 7 (you'll have to download Windows Live Mail separately, since Microsoft dumped, among other programs, an e-mail app from the new OS).

Similar directions for moving content of the more full-featured Outlook from one machine to another (as in an XP-to-Windows 7 upgrade) can be found here.

For other email clients, your best shot is to search using strings such as 'email client name migrate' and see what comes up.

That search for Thunderbird, for example, revealed that all you need to do is copy the 'C:\Documents & Settings\username\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles' folder found on the XP machine to your backup destination, then later copy that to the same location on the new PC after reinstalling Thunderbird.

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NEXT PAGE: Copying your browser's data

  1. Prepare your PC before you swap to Microsoft's new OS
  2. Will your software and peripherals run on Windows 7?
  3. Other locations to back-up your data
  4. Copying your browser's data
  5. Do I have to reinstall every app I have on XP?

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