Sometimes, it just feels good to reformat your system. Other times, you need to reformat your system to get rid of an annoying piece of malware or a virus. But no matter why you have to reformat your system, you’ll want to backup your files before you begin.
How do you know which files to backup? We’re going to help you out. Here’s an easy checklist filled with the information that most users (and hopefully, you), want to keep when they reformat their system:
-User folder data: Look through all of the folders included under your name in Windows. Those folders include My Documents, Downloads, Contacts, Saved Games, and more. Back these folders up to avoid losing your important personal data.
-Outlook files: If you use Outlook to manage email services on your computer, then you’ll want to save your emails to a .pst file in order to maintain a local storage stash of your messages. Using the method we just linked to, you can also save your email settings, address book, calendar entries, and whatever other personal information you have saved in Outlook.
-Game data: If you’re a PC gamer, then you don’t want all of your hard work to go to waste. Look through your My Documents folder to find a folder called my games or similar. Copy and paste the save game data and transfer it to your backup drive.
-Take screenshots of your desktop and your Start menu: This will make the reformat process as easy as possible. You can see how your icons were arranged as well as which programs you included on your Start bar.
Browser-related data: You probably use your internet browser more than any other application on your computer. In fact, you’re probably using it to read this blog post. Don’t let your bookmarks go to waste when you reformat your operating system. Save your personal data using simple plugins. Check out Febe for Firefox for the easiest possible way to backup all your bookmarks.
How to backup your computer
The easiest way to backup your computer – especially if you’re just about to perform a reformat – is to attach an external hard drive to your computer and copy and paste files to a special backup folder on that drive.
Alternatively, you can use cloud storage services like Dropbox, although uploading several GBs of files could take days over an average internet connection, and you might run out of space before the process is complete.
If you’re only backing up a few hundred MBs of data or saving a low number of GB of data, then a USB thumb stick should work just fine. Once you’ve reformatted your system, you can install automatic scheduled backup services if you want to avoid this hassle the next time you’re reformatting your system.