You have decided (or been forced to decide) that it is time to give up on XP and upgrade to a newer OS. It’s a big change, but something we’re going to have to go through if we want to keep our computers safe. But how do you go about starting that change?
Well first, you want to complete a back up of all your important files, pictures, music and documents you’ve saved up over all these years. One thing to know about backups is that there are not many software programs for backing up your computer that will allow you to transfer your programs from one computer to another. You will need to note down any serial numbers and locate your installation CDs or download files to reinstall on the new OS. Also note that not all programs are guaranteed to work on the new OS. You can check on the compatibility for most programs using Windows Upgrade Advisor or the Windows Compatibility Center . (It seems Microsoft has removed the pages about the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and only lists Windows 8/8.1 Assistant, so be sure to use that download link.)
You can use any backup software, and/or a large capacity flash drive or an external hard drive to do this. These can all be purchased for around $50 or less, depending on capacity (a large capacity external hard drive will run you more than that but you can generally get a 500GB hard drive for around $50 .) Using a flash drive or external backup without using backup software means you will have to choose and save all the files on your own.
You may also want to note down any bookmarks, favorites, saved passwords, toolbars, and other personalized settings, as those also may not transfer from one computer to another.
Another way to complete your file backup and transfer is with Windows Easy Transfer.  Please make this very important note: You can use Easy Transfer to transfer files from XP to Vista or 7. You CANNOT use it to transfer files from XP to Windows 8 or 8.1. (If you are moving to a Windows 8 (or 8.1) OS, you can only transfer from Windows 7, Windows RT, or Windows 8.)
The good news is that the program is already installed on Windows 7 and Windows 8. You will need to use the download link on the Easy Transfer page to install it on any XP or Vista computer. You can find your version of XP (32-bit or 64-bit) by going to Start menu, right clicking on My Computer, and clicking on Properties.
If it says nothing after Windows XP, you have the 32-bit installation. If it says x64 Edition, you are using 64-bit. Use this information to download the correct version of Easy Transfer onto your computer.
In part 2 , I will go over the steps for beginning the transfer.