Guide to Backing Up Your Computer

(and reformatting, as thats the next logical step)

  • Backup Personal Files
    • First thing you should do is turn off any encryption on your files. On any other computer, the files are gibberish so to protect them. The thing is, when you reformat your computer, it becomes a new computer, making all your files unrecoverable. Hopefully you remember which files/folders you right clicked and turned on encryption for. Otherwise, you should be aware that Outlook stores your mail encrypted, but how to backup that is for some other guide, as i don't condone the use of outlook.
    • The most obvious thing to backup is all your files in 'My Documents', the Desktop, or any other folders you have created to stored personl files. Where do you save your:
    • Work?
    • Pictures?
    • Messages?
    • Documents?
    • eMail?
    • Music?
    • Videos?
    • Downloads? (especially if you have a slow connection or the program is no longer available)
  • Important Miscilaneous Data
    • All Your Passwords, Usernames, Product Keys, or other 'saved' form data
    • Bookmarks
    • Saved FTP, printer, or network place addresses
    • The windows address book if you use it
    • Scheduled tasks
    • Save a copy of the entire Registry (run->regedit->click My Computer->File->Export)
  • Backup Program Data, Files, and Settings
    • The next and possibly longest procedure is to go through every program/game/utility you use and backup files you can think of. These files and settings can usually be found somewhere in the folder where the program is installed (in program files), My Documents, Application Data (documents and settings/username), or in the Registry. Go through each one and ask yourself:
    • Do i have the original install CD or download (and activation keys)
    • Where do i save this program's type of files?
    • What extensions or updates did i install for it?
    • What skins or plugins did i install?
    • Do i remember my username/password or other 'saved' form info?
    • did i make a lot of settings changes that i want to backup?
    • Is there data saved in the program that i want to extract?
  • Locations of Windows Files
      	Wallpapers	C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper
      	XP themes	C:\Windows\Resources
      	Cursors		C:\WINDOWS\Cursors
      	Sounds		C:\WINDOWS\Media
      	The Desktop	C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Desktop
  • My List of Program-Specific Backups
      • plug-in list
      • bookmarks
      • skins
      • Away messages (registry)
      • profile (application data)
      • username/password
        MSN messenger:
      • MSN Plus!
      • Stuffit Plugin
      • Skins
      • Plugins
      • playlists
      • Bookmarks
      • media library
        Media Player Classic:
      • config file
      • themes
      • backgrounds
      • icons
      • cursors
        Free Launch Bar:
      • folders with settings
      • game saves
      • main executable
      • downloaded updates, extensions, extra maps
        Google Earth:
      • bookmarks
      • username and password
        Matlab programs


        Joystick 2 Mouse

        Electric Sheep Saver

  • Reformat Procedure
    • Install Windows
    • Update to Windows SP2
    • Do windows update (Restart and repeat)
    • Setup firewall, antivirus, and antispyware
    • Download and install the latest drivers
    • Install DirectX
    • Install Codecs and make other Windows modifications
    • Start installing all your programs and Copying back your files
    • dont forget:
                Shockwave and Flash
                Quicktime and Real Alternative

Originally published around 2006