List of the most important things to backup before you format your hard drive

You may find yourself in a disaster if you don’t backup these most important things from your computer before you format your hard disk drive. Read on…

Today one of my colleague at the office received a new replacement laptop for his out of warranty laptop. The next thing he was expected to do was to take a backup of his data and return the old laptop. While he was taking a backup of his data from the old laptop, he forgot to take backup of few things which could have costed him a fortune later. Fortunately for him, he remembered those things moments before he returned his old laptop. This incident gave me a good topic to write a post on. ;)

Here is a list of applications and different things on your desktops and laptops that you should consider taking a backup before you get rid of your old system or format your hard disk drive.

1. Email Backup – Take a backup of your outlook PST files and if you use any other email client, take a backup of downloaded emails from your respective email client applications.

2. Office Files Backup – Scan your hard disk for all the office related documents such as Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Access, PDFs, e-books etc before your hard disk gets a clean wipe. If you use any accounting application or any other application such as a contact manager that has its own internal database, don’t forget to export the data to a safe place.

3. Backup your pictures – Gone are those days when we used cameras with reels, now everyone has a digital camera and store all the photos in the computer. If you have not uploaded your picture files to any online photo album services such as Picasa or Snapfish, search for them and take a backup.

4. Chat Conversations – Who doesn’t use an IM client? If you don’t, skip to next point. Otherwise, look into your system for the saved chat conversations and take a backup. For some of you who conduct business deals, work on freelance projects and use IM clients as your primary source of communication, there’s a lot you can not afford to lose.

5. Product Keys – Don’t forget to retrieve the product keys of all the applications you had purchased. In most cases, the product key information should be in your mailbox, which you must have received from the vendor at the time of purchasing it, but just in case, make a note of all the applications you had purchased and their respective product keys.

6. Software Drivers and Patches – Did you spent a lot of time searching for the drivers for your obsolete hardware? You may want to take a backup of the drivers, don’t you? You should also consider taking a backup of the patches you had been downloading, as most of those patches may no longer be available on the vendor’s website.

7. Personalized Settings – Some applications lets you customize its settings and store the settings file in the application folder itself. If you had spent considerable amount of time towards customizing an application to your requirements, take a look at all the installed programs and take a backup of your personalized settings. This may also include the files that gets created by the games you play such as snapshot of your current game level, sound settings etc.

8. Browser Bookmarks – There are hundreds of social and online bookmarking services, but most of us [that includes me] still bookmark websites in our desktop browsers. Take a look at your bookmarks, it may have a secret link to some software download page or something you forgot about. Better, export your bookmarks and take a backup.

9. Music and Movie Files – For most of us, it may be the first task on your checklist, but for rest of us, take a backup of your music files such as MP3 and other audio and video files.

Have you have got any thing else to add to this list, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and post it in the comments section below and I will add it to the list.

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[tags]Backup, Hard Disk, Laptop, Product Keys, Software, System Backup[/tags]

3 thoughts on “List of the most important things to backup before you format your hard drive

  1. If you have any files other than shortcuts on your desktop, make sure that it is backed up. Also ‘My Documents’ folder. Another thing is the Saved games.

  2. Hi Raj, very good information, in fact I was looking for this since long time, I always try to memorise before formatting but will sure forget few things. But this quick check helps a lot. Thanks for that…

  3. FONTS. This only adresses to people who are a bit into designing or at least like a good lay-out and took the time to downlaod and install some fonts themselves. Be sure to copy your windows/fonts map, cause, unless you remembered the exact name of the font, chances are little that you will even find these again.

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