Backing Up Files for Upgrade


I need to back up my files in anticipation of upgrading my rig from 32-bit Windows XP to 64-bit Windows 7. I don’t own an external hard drive and can’t afford to buy one (being a poor college student). I do, however, have a rig with two hard drives. If I were to transfer my files onto one drive and reformat the other with Windows 7, would the new OS be able to recognize the old drive and give me access to my files?

—Rhys Pygall

Yes, you can transfer your files to the other hard drive. In fact, due to the way Windows sets permissions, you’ll definitely want to do that: Transfer your files to a disk other than the one you’re upgrading. If you try to access a My Documents folder from an old install with a new version of Windows, you’ll probably lack security permissions. We’ve covered how to get your permissions back in this column before, but it’s easier to just bypass the issue by using a separate drive, like you’re doing.

SUBMIT YOUR QUESTION Are flames shooting out of the back of your rig? First, grab a fire extinguisher and douse the flames. Once the pyrotechnic display has fizzled, email the doctor at for advice on how to solve your technological woes.

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