Windows Easy Transfer will not back up email

Firstly, thanks to Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows for helping me out with testing this.

I was thinking about the people who will want to use the Windows Easy Transfer software on their Windows 7 install DVDs to copy across all their documents and settings from Windows XP or Vista.  I wondered what would happen to any email stored in either Outlook Express or Windows Mail.  This is because Windows 7 does not have an email application by default.

I thought that perhaps, if the user had already installed Windows Live Mail, an application that can happily import email from both Outlook Express and Windows Mail, Windows Easy Transfer might, just might import any email from your previous Windows installation into that program.

Alas, Paul kindly tested this for me and Windows Easy Transfer will not import email into Windows 7, even if you do already have Windows Live Mail installed.

This means that anybody not using webmail, or who has email stored in Outlook Express or Windows Mail, should not rely on WET to save their email for them.  This is not something Microsoft have stated and, frankly, they should have come clean over this as it’s quite a substantial limitation.

Before migrating to Windows 7 then, anybody who has email stored in their previous copy of Windows who also does not have it saved up in the cloud, should use the export option in that email software to back it up to an external drive, seperate partition or pendrive first.

This also means that anyone performing an in-place upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 using Windows Mail should also use Windows Mail to export their email before performing the upgrade, to avoid that email being lost forever.

This advice also applies to Windows Calendar in Vista, though currently, Windows Live Mail is unable to import any calendars directly.  There is a workaround for Hotmail, MSN and Live Mail users though if you export your calendar in iCal format and import it into the web-based calendar.

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11 Responses to Windows Easy Transfer will not back up email

  1. Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 5:38 am #

    I saw your article and I was stunned. My mail was transferred fine. Why wasn’t yours? And then I realized…

    You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. This problem is pretty tiny. And the solution is far easier than what you’ve presented.

    First, this is only a problem if you use the default store folder location. If you’ve moved it (which I hope you have…to under “Documents” somewhere perhaps), then it will get transferred as long as you transfer the location.

    Then, when you start up Live Mail under Windows, you once again change the store folder to where it’s supposed to be. Live Mail will notice that the folder you have suggested is already a store folder and will ask you if you want to merge it in (I may be off on verbiage here, I’m typing this from memory). Once you do, it will also recreate the accounts, and everything will be set up just as it was previously for you.

    Of course, all of this only helps if you’re using a storage location other than the default store folders. Well, if you’re not, you should be. So, if you’re not, then move your store folders before running Windows Easy Transfer.

  2. Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 7:30 am #

    Which would be fine for technical users, but not for the 90% of Windows users who, sadly, aren’t.

    Thanks for the tip though 🙂


  3. Andy August 25, 2009 at 8:46 am #

    Then users should get someone who knows what they are doing. Upgrading/re-installing a major new OS should not be performed by noobs

  4. Anonymous August 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    There is an argument to be made for novice users not installing Windows just so they can have the best experience possible. However the world we live in a slightly different, which is why the Windows 7 installer and Windows Easy Transfer have been designed the way they have.

  5. Brad August 26, 2009 at 5:53 am #

    Surely you are not suggesting people don’t regularly backup their email files! 😉

    I have always had at least 2 backup copies of my Outlook .pst files.
    I need them once when my Outlook corrupted my .pst files on Vista.

    I back up the actual files with simple free backup utilities because I know where they are but as you say a novice user can use the export option in their mail software to do this.
    Some backup software will even go and find all your email for you and back it up.

    I agree that MS should remind everyone to do this.
    People appreciate the little things like helpful tips.

  6. David October 27, 2009 at 4:31 am #

    you people should get a mac, and be nice to each other… You have to be so ‘careful’ when you own a windows computer…. Mac give you warnings before, windows goes ha, ha afterwards!

  7. wguru April 15, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    David is soo right on. Examples are rampant throughout all Windows install, update and/or upgrade processes. Hell, MS is so lazy they don’t even disclose if updating an app of their’s affords ‘over the top’ install or if the old needs uninstalled first. Moreover, MS laziness and/or ineptness even posts falsehoods on their download pages, ref. updating Windows 7 Windows Easy Transfer. ie; there MS says users need not install that page’s (undisclosed) version “as it is already installed on Windows 7 systems”, ie; W7’s default installed WET is v6.1.7600.16385. And the download is about a year now on the shelf.

  8. Fire Marshal Bill June 23, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

    Go to a Mac just so you are warned? Now THAT is making a mountain out of a molehill. LOL. I say when hell freezes over!

    The first thing I do when I set up Outlook/OE is to point the mail folder to a logical partition other than C:. All my data, including email, desktop and profile, is stored on the D: Data drive, as well as a second copy on an external drive. Then, I slash and burn the hard drive with abandon. Case closed. I sleep well at night!

  9. Anonymous October 4, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Ummm…what is the point of this?

  10. joe November 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I have a problem with Windows Mail Live.

    I successfully (at least that’s what the the end message read)imported my Windows XP Outlook Express folders and emails to Windows 7 Windows Mail Live.

    However, I cannot find the imported folders or messages.

    Can you help me? Thanks.

  11. easy backup wizard January 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    what a pain

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