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files to backup before re-installing Windows


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#1 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:48 AM

Hi everyone,

 

I'm getting close to re-installing Windows 7.  This is something I think some people take lightly and seem to do every few months, but I've only re-installed any version of Windows once, that I can recall, in twenty years!  So I'm being careful and methodical.

 

A dedicated Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64 install disk (as opposed to one of those install-everything disks) came with my computer, along with several other disks containing drivers, utilities, and any software that the vendor (Velocity Micro) had originally installed.  And I have a 4 TB external hard drive for storing my personal files. 

 

I'm sure I'll need to copy the Documents and Settings folder, as that contains (I presume all) my pictures, documents, videos, e-mails and more.  And I'll want to at least note what applications I've got so that I can download and install the most important of them again.  Aside from these two major things, can anyone point out anything else I might need or want?  I'm referring to locations where personal data is stored, since programs can be reinstalled.

 

Note that I'm not interested in making an image of the drive because Windows is borked and I want a fresh install.  There may be other corrupt files as well.  My only way to access any of my files (or get online with this computer) has for months been through a bootable live Linux flash stick.  I've learned enough about Linux (Mint) to know that I want to install it, and keep Windows around too.

 

I'd like to stay fairly focused on this one question about files to back up, to keep it simple, though brief related tips are ok, too.  I'm just afraid of veering too far off topic, which I've found gets too difficult and time-consuming to read.  I can post separate questions about subsequent installation steps.  But in case it matters, I will say that my ultimate goal is to have Windows 7 and Linux Mint 16 both installed, to be able to choose one at boot time, and for the two operating systems to share all my files (if possible).  But first things first, which I believe is knowing what files and folders to preserve.

 

Thanks so much.


Edited by Captain Dunsel, 13 March 2014 - 03:03 PM.


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#2 jhayz

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 01:58 AM

Hi, please see Windows 7 backup and restore feature. Hope this helps.


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#3 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 02:51 PM

Well that would be great, jhayz, but as I said I cannot boot Windows so I don't see how I could use that Windows backup application.  Thanks



#4 OldPhil

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 03:29 PM

Doing a clean install on top of a factory rcovery partition will render the partition unusable.  I did this on this laptop, in my opinion being as it can no longer be used delete the partition during the load.  You will save about 15 gigs of space, not keeping the usless data.


Edited by OldPhil, 13 March 2014 - 03:30 PM.

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#5 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:08 PM

OldPhil, I'm sorry but I don't know what you're talking about.  I don't know what a factory recovery partition is.  :scratchhead:   My question is: what files should I backup?

 

Edit: I'm back a few hours later...

 

I now think I realize what a factory recovery partition is; I just hadn't heard the term in a while.  But I doubt my computer has one because, as I mentioned, it came with a dedicated Windows install disk, along with several other disks for each of the programs and drivers that the company had originally installed.  In other words, there's no need for a recovery partition since I have disks.  And I've never seen any evidence that I have such a partition, either.

 

Thanks


Edited by Captain Dunsel, 14 March 2014 - 12:49 AM.


#6 EwenB

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 06:50 PM

You should keep the contents of "My Documents" because presumably you maintain copies there.  If you use MS Excel for spreadsheets the file is usually stored there.  You should keep "My Pictures", I always keep "Devices and Printers" out of habit really because drivers need to be installed anyway,  Export your Favourites to an HTML file in your Documents, there's nothing worse than hunting for favourites later.  There are probably a few that I have forgotten because usually I restore from an image.

 

Hope this helps

 

PS and late edit:  Use a Linux "Live" disk (Puppy Linux is good for this) to access these folders and burn you findings to a CD/DVD


Edited by EwenB, 13 March 2014 - 06:54 PM.


#7 Queen-Evie

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:45 PM

If you use an email client and you have mail set to delete from the server when it's downloaded to the client back up your mail and address book. If you don't all will be lost.

 

Another way to back up your favorites if you use Internet Explorer is simply copy the Favorites folder and paste it to you external drive or whatever you are using for back up.



#8 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:40 AM

You should keep the contents of "My Documents" because presumably you maintain copies there.  If you use MS Excel for spreadsheets the file is usually stored there.  You should keep "My Pictures", I always keep "Devices and Printers" out of habit really because drivers need to be installed anyway,  Export your Favourites to an HTML file in your Documents, there's nothing worse than hunting for favourites later.  There are probably a few that I have forgotten because usually I restore from an image.

 

Hope this helps

 

PS and late edit:  Use a Linux "Live" disk (Puppy Linux is good for this) to access these folders and burn you findings to a CD/DVD

 

Thanks Ewen.  This is the kind of thing I wanted, though I might already be covered.

 

"My Documents" is actually inside the "Documents and Settings" folder, so I already counted that.  Same with "My Pictures."  I don't use Excel, but thanks.  As for Favorites, although I know of no way that I can export them, since that would require being able to launch whatever browser created them, there are a bunch of them also in the Documents and Settings folder.  I'm not sure which browser generated those I've found, but I did know they were there from previous exploration, and I assume each browser stores its favorites somewhere in that folder. 

 

In fact it seems that single "Documents and Settings" folder may contain just about everything I want to save; something I've wondered for some time.  I even seem to recall reading once that it was created for the very purpose of making backups easier.

 

You said to use a Linux "live" disk to access these folders and burn them to a disk.  But as I mentioned, I'm already using a live USB Linux Mint flash stick, and have an external hard drive.

 

Now, on "Devices and Printers"... what is that, a folder?  A file?  And where would I find it?  I did a search with Linux of my entire internal hard drive and it didn't turn up anywhere, though a number of files and folders containing just the word "device" did.

 

Thanks



#9 NickAu

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:47 AM

 

although I know of no way that I can export them, since that would require being able to launch whatever browser created them

Linux may be able to find them if they are stored in a folder. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/832521

..

 

I use xmarks. http://www.xmarks.com/ I save the bookmarks but not passwords. This way if anything happens my bookmarks are safe.


Edited by NickAu1, 14 March 2014 - 12:58 AM.


#10 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:53 AM

If you use an email client and you have mail set to delete from the server when it's downloaded to the client back up your mail and address book. If you don't all will be lost.

 

Another way to back up your favorites if you use Internet Explorer is simply copy the Favorites folder and paste it to you external drive or whatever you are using for back up.

 

Thanks Queen-Evie.  I've already seen that all my mail and address book are also stored (deep) in the Documents and Settings folder.

 

On favorites: yeah, that's what I was thinking as well. 



#11 acerts04

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 12:58 AM

Pertaining to your question of backing up files..
A nice tool to use that saves files and settings in Windows Easy Transfer. It is not really classified as a "backup program" and shouldn't be used in place of regular back ups, but it is a simple and effective tool to use when migrating to a new OS, new computer, or reinstall. Check out this article and see if it works for you.

http://www.7tutorials.com/what-windows-easy-transfer-how-backup-your-data-transfer

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#12 Captain Dunsel

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 01:12 AM

 

 

although I know of no way that I can export them, since that would require being able to launch whatever browser created them

Linux may be able to find them if they are stored in a folder.https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-where-firefox-stores-user-data

You may be able to just copy a folder into linux browser folder and back up that way. or just copy the folder to USB ... IE not included.

 

I use xmarks. http://www.xmarks.com/ I save the bookmarks but not passwords. This way if anything happens my bookmarks are safe.

 

 

NickAu1, I know about that profiles folder, and in fact needed to find it again just a week or so ago.  But you did get me thinking because the profile is in a different place for my Linux live setup than for my old Windows setup.  And once again, the Windows profile is in Documents and Settings.  Good!  And yeah, I think the IE favorites are in the Favorites folder, also in D&S.  Thank you.



#13 NickAu

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 01:17 AM

You are welcome. If I got you "thinking" that is great you may remember something else too that may be some place else.



#14 EwenB

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 03:25 AM

 

You should keep the contents of "My Documents" because presumably you maintain copies there.  If you use MS Excel for spreadsheets the file is usually stored there.  You should keep "My Pictures", I always keep "Devices and Printers" out of habit really because drivers need to be installed anyway,  Export your Favourites to an HTML file in your Documents, there's nothing worse than hunting for favourites later.  There are probably a few that I have forgotten because usually I restore from an image.

 

Hope this helps

 

PS and late edits:  Use a Linux "Live" disk (Puppy Linux is good for this) to access these folders and burn your findings to a CD/DVD

 

Thanks Ewen.  This is the kind of thing I wanted, though I might already be covered.

 

"My Documents" is actually inside the "Documents and Settings" folder, so I already counted that.  Same with "My Pictures."  I don't use Excel, but thanks.  As for Favorites, although I know of no way that I can export them, since that would require being able to launch whatever browser created them, there are a bunch of them also in the Documents and Settings folder.  I'm not sure which browser generated those I've found, but I did know they were there from previous exploration, and I assume each browser stores its favourites somewhere in that folder. 

 

In fact, it seems that single "Documents and Settings" folder may contain just about everything I want to save; something I've wondered for some time.  I even seem to recall reading once that it was created for the very purpose of making backups easier.

 

You said to use a Linux "live" disk to access these folders and burn them to a disk.  But as I mentioned, I'm already using a live USB Linux Mint flash stick, and have an external hard drive.

 

Now, on "Devices and Printers"... What is that, a folder?  A file?  And where would I find it?  I did a search with Linux of my entire internal hard drive and it didn't turn up anywhere, though a number of files and folders containing just the word "device" did.

 

Thanks

 

Don't worry about the "Printers, etc." folder, as I said it is just a habit I got into and it has sort of stuck.  When you re-install your printer and /or fax machine the drivers will be written there automatically.  I won't confuse the issue so just forget about it.  I wish you plain sailing in your re-install and being logged onto this topic, I'll keep an eye out for your progress.

 

Regards






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