Microsoft USMT (User State Migration Tool) definition

Contributor(s): Stephen Bigelow

Microsoft User State Migration Tool (USMT) is a command-line utility for transferring end user files and settings between computers.

USMT can handle the orderly and automated transfer of user accounts, user files and folders, email content and contacts, user multimedia, user programs and associated data, and Internet settings and preferences. Microsoft USMT replaces older Microsoft tools such as the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP and the Easy Transfer utility with Windows Vista.

The USMT is actually composed of two principal utilities: ScanState and LoadState. The ScanState.exe utility scans the original computer for preferences selected through the command-line interface and creates a data store. The LoadState.exe utility moves the data store to the destination computer and reassembles the files in their correct locations. Several graphical user interface (GUI) front ends have appeared to assist less technical users with USMT, but technicians requiring precise control over system migration will prefer the granular control the traditional command-line interface affords.

Several versions of Microsoft USMT are currently available, though Version 4 is needed to migrate systems to Windows 7, and Version 5 is needed to move systems to Windows 8. Although Microsoft USMT can move files and settings from 32-bit to 64-bit systems, it cannot downgrade 64-bit to 32-bit systems.

This was first published in December 2012

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