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Deploying Windows XP, Managing User State Page 3

By Marcin Policht (Send Email)
Posted Dec 30, 2004


There are three general approaches to migrating user state during new operating system deployments.

  1. Organizations can use Microsoft user state migration tools, which include Files and Settings Transfer Wizard (intended primarily for individual use) and User State Migration Tool (USMT, geared toward higher volume migrations), which will be covered in the next article of this series.

  2. Organizations can also use third-party tools, the more common of which are:

    • Unicenter Desktop DNA and Desktop DNA Professional from Computer Associates (currently at version 4.7) are complete migration solutions that, as part of a desktop deployment, automate the transfer of user and application settings between computers using a variety of media and methods, including network-based, one-to-many scenarios. They contain a number of useful features, such as real-time and scheduled migrations, a high degree of customization via templates or scripts easily created with DNA Studio, as well as the capability to manually select files and settings to migrate or rollback. One of the major advantages of these tools is their capability to transfer remotely state data for all users of a particular computer together. Both Microsoft tools perform transfer one user at a time and require the user be logged on interactively when the transfer takes place. Another feature worth mentioning is the capability to copy applications (not just their settings) from one computer to another. This greatly simplifies hardware replacement and new operating system deployments.
    • Migration Suite from Altiris (currently at version 6.0) is similar to Desktop DNS products from Computer Associates. The suite offers a complete solution for migration to Windows XP, covering hardware and software inventory, backup of user and computer state, desktop deployment (via imaging) with application installation, configuration, and user-specific customization.
    • Ghost Solution Suite from Symantec is another enterprise-level solution. In addition to functionality to migrate user data and settings, it includes multicast-based PC imaging with inherent backup and recovery capabilities, automated application deployment, as well as secure data disposal, making it compliant with Department of Defense standards.
    • The Professional Edition of the agent-based PC-Relocator from Eisenworld enables entire applications to be transferred between computers (using a variety of means, such as network, USB, or parallel connections) or can store them to removable media. However, unlike the previously described solutions, PC-Relocator is intended for individual migrations. The same functionality is also available in the Enterprise Edition, which offers remote administration, automation (through custom scripting), and other customization features geared toward high-volume migrations.
    • Personality Tranxport Professional and Tranxition Migration Studio are two offerings from Tranxition Corporation. The first \ is a standard user state migration product; the second provides a fairly intuitive development environment, which can be used to further customize settings for applications not natively supported.
    • Intellimover from Detto Technologies allows highly customizable user state migrations involving both PCs and Macintosh computers (with equivalent Move2Mac product) for individual and SMB customers.
    • MoveMe from SpearitSoftware is intended for individual use and small-scale real-time and deferred migrations with a limited need for customization. It supports copying of entire applications (in addition to transferring only their settings).

  3. Custom methods are most appropriate in small environments or in scenarios where desktop migration to the new operating system requires additional, significant changes, such as an overhaul of the client application set or the way users are configured (and there is no budget for enterprise-level third-party solutions). In such cases, it might be necessary to adjust user state settings beyond those offered by free tools from Microsoft.

    Our next article will discuss in more detail two user state migration tools from Microsoft: Files and Settings Transfer Wizard and User State Migration Tool.

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