How to Migrate Data from an Old Windows Phone to a New Windows Phone

A few days ago, I broke my HTC 8S with Windows Phone 8 and I replaced it with a Nokia Lumia 720. Getting my hands on a new phone meant I had to move all my apps and data, and configure it as close as I could to my old smartphone. This was a great occasion to write a tutorial on how to migrate everything from an old Windows Phone 8 device to a new one. As you'll see, it's a relatively straightforward process. Anyone should be able to go through it without any major problems.

Please Read this Before Going Further

Before moving on to the next steps, you should be aware of a few important aspects:

  • In order for this guide to work, you need Windows Phone 8 Update 3 on your new smartphone. A big and very helpful change in this update is the fact that it allows users to connect to Wi-Fi networks during the setup process. This means you don't have to use your mobile connection for transferring data and it also provides faster downloads.
  • In order to be able to migrate data from an old Windows Phone 8, you must have created at least a backup on that device. If you need a guide on how to create backups, please read this tutorial: How to Backup Your Windows Phone 8 Data Automatically.
  • Be aware that using a mobile data plan to migrate your data and apps to a new Windows Phone might not be a good idea. The amount of data being transferred can prove to be quite large. It's recommended that you are in reach of a wireless data connection, and you know its password so that you can use it without having to worry about anything.
  • Keep in mind that this process migrates your accounts, your Windows Phone settings, messages, apps and games. It doesn't migrate the settings of your apps or your saved games. Those are lost and you need to manually configure each app and game on your new Windows Phone.

How to Set Up Your New Windows Phone 8

If you meet all the prerequisites mentioned above, turn on your new Windows Phone 8 device. After a short while you will see a welcome message, similar to screenshot below. Tap get started to begin the initial setup.

Select the language you want to use and tap next.

You'll be presented the Windows Phone Terms of Use. To go ahead, you'll have to accept them.

Then, you are asked about how you want your phone to be set up. Here, you can choose to either use the quick recommended settings or, you can choose to customize them. My recommendation is to tap the custom button so that you can choose what you want to activate.

Select the features you want active and, when you're done, tap next.

Now you are asked to select the region and time zone you're in. Provide the necessary information, choose whether you want Windows Phone to automatically set the date and time and specify whether you want your location to be sent to Microsoft when your Windows Phone is activated. When done, tap next.

Now it is time to connect to a Wi-Fi network that's in your area. Tap on the network you want to use. If it is a secured network, you'll have to enter its password.

Upon connecting to the Internet, you'll be asked to sign in with your Microsoft account, create one or skip this step. In order to migrate your data from your old phone, you'll have to sign in.

Enter the details for your Microsoft account and tap sign in.

How to Restore Your Apps & Settings from the Old Windows Phone

Now comes the most important step in the whole migration process. You are shown a list with your latest Windows Phone 8 backups. If you have multiple Windows Phone 8 devices, you will see an entry for each of them.
Select the phone from where you want to restore your data and then tap next.

The next screen informs you that Windows Phone is about to start restoring your settings, accounts and apps. Also, you are informed that, if you did not connect to a wireless network, this action will use your data plan. Tap next to continue.

The phone will let you know how things are going by displaying a simple progress bar. When done, it will say Complete 100% and you can tap next.

If on your old Windows Phone you had other accounts configured besides your Microsoft account, you will see them displayed. To complete the restoration process, you have to enter their passwords. When done, tap next.

Then you are informed that the process is almost complete. Tap next.

You can start using your Windows Phone even though the migration process is not finished. Now your smartphone will download and install the apps from your previous Windows Phone.

If you want to follow their progress, open the Store and tap X downloads, where X represents the number of apps that are not yet installed but pending download and installation.

The downloads screen is opened. Here you can follow the download progress for all your old apps.

If you notice an app that you don't want installed, you can cancel it: tap and hold on it to open the contextual menu and then tap cancel download to remove it from the download queue.

All you have to do now is wait for every app to be installed. There are cases when some apps won't install and require your attention. If you tap on one of their names, you'll see an error with the code 8000ffff.

This happens when an app isn't compatible with your new Windows Phone. For more information on this problem, read this article: How to Solve the Error 8000ffff when Restoring Windows Phone 8 Apps.

Conclusion

As you've seen, migrating from an old Windows Phone to a new Windows Phone is easy and relatively fast. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to share them using the comments form below and we'll try our best to answer.