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Expression Web

2014032801 Email to Ronx

Copy EW website configuration data between PCs

How to copy Expression Web website configurations to new OS or PC

As Operating Systems age, or PCs wear out, it is sometimes necessary to scrap one PC and move to another - all those applications, settings and data to move over. Upgrading the OS often amounts to the same problem, since applications have to be re-installed.

Moving (or copying) Expression Web website settings from one computer to another requires four steps:

  1. Copy the configuration files from the original computer to a temporary location
  2. Copy from the temporary location to the new computer
  3. Edit the configuration files to correct the website location on the new computer
  4. Find and enter the password for publishing each website into the Publishing Properties.

Note that the configuration files contain the website location (on the computer), the publishing location(s) and username(s). The files do NOT include any passwords.

Copy to temporary location

When using any Windows operating system, the Expression Web 3 settings for each web site are located in the folder at:
%Appdata%\Microsoft\Expression\Web 3\SiteData
and for Expression Web 4 the settings are at
%Appdata%\Microsoft\Expression\Web 4\SiteData

When entered in the Windows Explorer address bar the expression %Appdata% will automatically expand into the correct path for the Windows version being used, in Windows XP, for example this is: C:\Documents and Settings\<userName>\Application Data\

Each website has its own folder (in the SiteData folder) which contains an XML file named user.config. To move the settings for a website from one computer to another, copy this folder (and its contents) to the corresponding location on the other computer.

To find the folder in Windows Explorer, type the location into the Windows Explorer address bar.

Type in location Translate %Appdata% Website data folders Website user.config file revealed

Copy FoldersWith the website folders open in Windows Explorer, scroll through the Folders bar and use the + symbols to open the folders for Web 3 (or Web 4) until the SiteData folder is revealed and opened. Then right-click and drag the required SiteData folders to a temporary external storage location - this could be a LAN drive or USB drive, even a floppy disc. Choose Copy from the context menu when the mouse button is released, or the files may be moved and thus be unavailable to Expression Web on the original computer.

Copy to new PC

Reverse the above procedure on the new computer - use Windows Explorer to copy from the temporary location to %Appdata%\Microsoft\Expression\Web 4\SiteData

Edit configuration file

The configuration file is an XML file containing most of the settings relevant to a website. It is likely that the website location will have to be edited, unless the paths to the sites are the same on both computers. Note that the default location used for Expresssion Web sites varies according to the version of Windows; for example:

Windows XP: C:\Documents And Settings\<userName>\My Documents\My Webs\

Windows 8: C:\Users\<userName>\Documents\My Web Sites\

An example extract from the user.config file resembles:

<PrimitiveObject Name="Name">rxs-enterprises_local</PrimitiveObject>
<PrimitiveObject Name="Path">E:\websites\wwwroot\</PrimitiveObject>
<PrimitiveObject Name="Type">Local</PrimitiveObject>
<PrimitiveObject Name="Username"></PrimitiveObject>

In this case the username is empty since the site is a local site.

The path (as in "<PrimitiveObject Name="Path">E:\websites\wwwroot\</PrimitiveObject>") may have to be changed to suit the websites location on the new computer.


The user.config files do not include any passwords - these are hidden in the Windows Registry and/or other encrypted places. To publish a website the appropriate password must be entered in Publishing Properties.