A user in your organization has an aging computer that will not boot. The hard disk still works, they’ve just managed to do something that doesn’t allow them to log in using Last Known Good Configuration or Safe Mode. The computer is full of important user data, such as bookmarks, Outlook PST files, application settings, encryption certificates and encrypted documents. They should have backed this stuff up to the network but, lets face it, the people who back their stuff up regularly aren’t the ones that ever come to you because their computer is stuffed.

What you want to do is move the user to a new computer and retire the old one. Before you do can that, you need to recover all their data from their old computer. This can be a bit of a trial. You could boot off a Windows PE disk and hunt around for the stuff, but that approach can be a bit hit and miss.

What you should try is an offline migration using the new User State Migration Tool (USMT). The USMT is a freely available tool from Microsoft that is designed to assist in the migration of all important user data, including stuff like encryption certificates, encrypted files, bookmarks, Outlook PST files and settings from one computer to another. In the past, you had to run USMT from within Windows. A funky new feature of USMT version 4.0 is offline migration – which allows you to run USMT from Windows PE. The USMT isn’t specifically designed to work with computers that will not boot, but the offline migration mode allows you to leverage it in that way. Rather than hunting around of a computer that will not boot for important files and settings, you let the USMT gather and restore user data.

You can perform an offline migration from computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. All you need to do is set up a bootable Windows PE 2.0 device and include the USMT files on it.

To find out more about using USMT to perform offline migration, consult the following TechNet web page: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd560758.aspx