If you're making the move to a new PC, you can bring your files with you using an external storage device such as a USB drive, SD card, or external hard drive. First, you’ll copy your files onto your drive, then you’ll transfer them to your new PC.

Note: For info on how to move files to a new PC without needing a storage device, see Move files to a new Windows PC using OneDrive. OneDrive can securely store your files, so they’re backed up and protected in the cloud and accessible from any device—including your new PC.

To move files from a Windows 11 PC using an external storage device, follow these instructions. 

Back up files from your current PC to an external storage device 

  1. Connect your external storage device to your current Windows 11 PC.

  2. On the taskbar, select File Explorer .

  3. Locate the files you wish to copy, or the folders where those files are stored.

  4. To copy multiple files, hold CTRL as you select additional files or folders.

  5. Once you have files and folders highlighted, select and hold (or right-click) the folders, then select Show more options > Send to. Select your external storage device name from the list of options.

  6. Your files and folders will begin copying to your drive. You may need to repeat steps 3 – 5 if you have files stored in multiple locations. Make sure to also move files from locations like your Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Music, Podcasts, Pictures, and Videos folders.

Verify your files are correct and remove the storage device 

After you have copied or moved your files onto an external storage device, you can verify they're in the right location by browsing the external drive. 

Then you'll need to safely remove the drive to ensure no files are lost or corrupted. To remove the device, select Eject before you disconnect the drive from your PC. 

Once you have moved your files onto your external storage device, you'll be able to transfer them onto your new Windows 11 PC. 

Transfer your files to your new PC 

  1. Connect your external storage device to your new Windows 11 PC.

  2. Select File Explorer from your task bar.

  3. On the left guide bar, select This PC.

  4. Locate the external drive and double-click its corresponding icon.

  5. Locate the folder where your files are saved, and then double-click that folder's icon.

  6. To select all the files in this location, select See more  in the top left and then Select all. All the files in this folder will now be highlighted. To copy only one file, select it by clicking on it once.

  7. Once you select a file, you will see Cut and Copy in the toolbar. Select either to cut or copy the selected file(s).

    To paste a file, navigate to a location where you want to paste the file, and then select the Paste icon in the toolbar.

  8. Your files will begin to transfer to your Windows 11 PC. Note that this may take time depending on the number and size of the files you transfer.

  9. After the files are copied, you can navigate to their new location to make sure the files were successfully transferred.

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Back up files from your current PC to an external storage device

  1. Connect your external storage device to your current Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 PC.

  2. On the taskbar, select File Explorer .

  3. Locate the files you wish to copy, or the folders where those files are stored.

  4. To copy multiple files, hold CTRL as you select additional files or folders.

  5. Once you have files and folders highlighted, make sure you're in the Home tab, then select Organize > Copy to, and select your external storage device name from the list of options. 

  6. Your files and folders will begin copying to your drive. You may need to repeat steps 3 – 5 if you have files stored in multiple locations. Make sure to also move files from locations like your Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Music, Podcasts, Pictures, and Videos folders.

Verify your files are correct and remove the storage device

After you have copied or moved your files onto an external storage device, you can verify they're in the right location by browsing the external drive.

Then you'll need to safely remove the drive to ensure no files are lost or corrupted. To remove the device, select Eject before you disconnect the drive from your PC.

Once you have moved your files onto your external storage device, you'll be able to transfer them onto your new Windows 10 PC.

Transfer your files to your new PC

  1. Connect your external storage device to your new Windows 10 PC.

  2. Select File Explorer from your task bar.

  3. On the left guide bar, select This PC.

  4. Locate the external drive and double-click its corresponding icon.

  5. Locate the folder where your files are saved, and then double-click that folder's icon.

  6. To select all the files in this location, select the Home tab in the top left and then Select all. All the files in this folder will now be highlighted. To copy only one file, select it by clicking on it once.

  7. Select the Home tab in the top left, select Copy to, and then select the folder you'd like the files copied to: Documents, Music, Pictures, or Videos. You can also choose a custom location by selecting Choose location....

  8. Your files will begin to transfer to your Windows 10 PC. Note that this may take time depending on the number and size of the files you transfer.

  9. After the files are copied, you can navigate to their new location to make sure the files were successfully copied over.

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