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Overview of Migrating User State

Updated: March 28, 2003

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Any time that you perform a new installation of Windows XP on a client workstation, you should migrate user state to ease users into the new system and maintain user productivity. User state consists of user data — the files that users create and need to do their jobs — along with user settings containing application-specific and user-specific information. Additionally, application settings supply the user with links, menus, and other information that can be essential for their productivity.

If user state is not migrated, an organization can accrue costs as users spend production time reconfiguring their applications and other settings. Organizations must evaluate the cost/benefits ratios for migrating various types of items. They must understand the security issues related to migration and be sure to educate users about what to expect before and after the migration.

The way that you choose to deploy Windows XP affects your user state migration plan. Ideally, an organization can perform either a parallel or a wipe-and-load deployment, restoring collected user state to a clean environment.

The method that you use to collect and restore user state is critical to the success and efficiency of your user state migration. To avoid the high migration cost of a strictly manual migration, an organization can:

  • Partially script the migration, leaving nonstandard items to the discretion of the individual user or IT staff.

  • Use migration tools that automate the migration of common settings but allow customization.

  • Create its own custom tools.

The degree to which an organization should automate user state migration depends on these and a variety of other factors, including the number of users to be migrated and how widely dispersed they are; how centralized the organization’s IT effort is; the degree to which users share a common desktop, folder hierarchy, and computing requirements; the IT expertise available to assist in and support the migration; and whether the deployment involves simultaneous domain migration.

Before you begin planning a user state migration, identify the computers on which you will deploy Windows XP, and determine the appropriate deployment method for each computer. When you complete this process, you will be ready to deploy Windows XP, with a complete, tested plan for migrating user state during the system deployment and a schedule for the migration. For worksheets to assist you with the deployment of migrating user state, see "Additional Resources for User State Migration," later in this chapter.

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