Upgrading Vista 32 bit to Windows 7 64bit


Since I own an MSDN subscription, I was able to get my hands on a copy of Windows 7 last Thursday.

I didn’t actually install it until this past Sunday because Sunday is the only day I don’t need my computer and I needed a point in time where I could know I would have a good backup to work from.

Since my backups are made at night while I sleep, starting the upgrade process made the most sense starting Sunday morning when I got up.

Why so cautious?

Because I was going to attempt an upgrade from Vista 32-bit to Windows 7 64-bit, for which there is no direct upgrade path.  So I needed to use the migration wizard tools.

For those of you who are wondering. The upgrade itself went rather smoothly.  No driver issues.  All my software is working.  In fact, the only two noticeable “complaints” that I could make are that one of my email accounts is not working.  For all I know that is something on the server side.  My other complaint is that I had to re-install a lot of my software.  I’ve been amazed as I need to install yet another software package.

Of course there were the tools you would expect from a developer.

  • Office w/ Outlook
  • Visual Studio
  • SQL Server
  • Version Control

But there are the multitude of supporting programs

  • Quicken
  • 7zip
  • Camtasia
  • VirtualBox
  • Live Writer
  • an FTP Program
  • MyBackup Program (Acronis)
  • iMacro
  • Xobni
  • ClearContext

And that’s just the list of the ones I had to re-install today.

Fortunately, the migration wizard took care of moving my email accounts.

The process

If you are planning to upgrade from Vista 32 to Windows 7 64, here are the steps I went through.

  1. Complete system backup.  Acronis does a great job of backing up the entire drive.
  2. Using the Migration Wizard that you can find at %WinDir%\System32\MigWiz\MigWiz, migrate everything to an external drive.
  3. Install Windows 7, 64-bit
  4. Using the migration wizard in the Support directory of the install CD, restore from the file the migration wizard made from Vista 32
  5. Install all the other software.

One thing I didn’t do that you might consider doing is to make sure you get the inetpub/wwwroot directory in the migration wizard steps instead of relying on the backup.  It will make your life a bit easier.

You’ll also want to make sure you can locate all the license keys for all of the software you own.

Is it worth it?

Mostly, I’d say “yes.”  There is a noticeable speed improvement that I expect is because I moved to 64-bit more than anything else.  Today has been a hard day, but I’m pretty confident that the grief I’ve gone through will be more than offset by the amount of time I won’t be waiting for things to happen in the future.

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