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I want to do a clean re-install of Windows 7 but there are files and installed programs which need to be backed up and restored. I tried using the Windows 7 backup utility to do a full backup to an external usb drive. The problem is that whenever the backup gets close to finishing, it always crashes. The system I am backing up has been compromised by viruses, which might be causing this. I already used several utilities to get rid of the viruses but some of the damage they did can not be undone. I tried doing the backup in safe mode but Windows 7 does not allow this. What other methods can I use to backup and restore important programs and files on Windows 7? Perhaps there is a way to do it from outside Windows 7, like say, using a Linux live cd? One of the main problems I see is restoring installed programs since those make use of the registry so simply copying the files probably won't work.

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This probably isn't the answer you want to hear, but I'd reinstall your programs manually. As you said, your system has been compromised. Chances are that allowing any automated tool to copy things from your old to your new PC will bring some of the mess along with it.

If you use the Windows 7 backup tool just to back up your documents and files (and not programs or settings), you might have more success... But by that point, you might as well copy everything by hand.

Additionally, have you tried restoring the failed backup? If you're lucky, it could have crashed after finishing, and you might have a working backup after all.

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How can I try to restore the failed backup? When I go to the utility, it says that a full backup was never completed, and I didn't see an option there to do a restore? – Phenom Aug 24 '10 at 19:41
If you don't see the option to restore, then maybe you weren't lucky after all, sorry. – zildjohn01 Aug 26 '10 at 18:04

Have you tried playing around with Cobian backup? I have found Cobian to be very useful for other backup needs.

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It sounds to me like your first priority should be to completely remove any viruses. Assuming they are 100% removed, you should be able to backup your current registry for importing after you have reinstalled Win7. I don't think it's impossible to backup programs, but I know it can't be easy. The registry is just one part. You'll have to backup every file your programs utilize which may be scattered all over the place.

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Assuming that I have already removed all the viruses, how do I find out where all the files the program utilizes are? – Phenom Aug 24 '10 at 19:43
Well, I suppose that's the hard part. I don't know of any program that will automatically tell you. It will be a very complicated process. Unless there is no possible way, you would really just be better off reinstalling your programs after you reinstall Windows 7. Also, what kind of irreparable damage did the viruses cause? Are you absolutely sure you even need to reinstall the O/S at all? – Thomas B. Aug 24 '10 at 19:53
IE doesn't work. I installed Firefox and it works. That means the virus did some kind of damage that prevents IE from working. The problem is that I have some software that was purchased that needs to be reinstalled and I can't find the original download link to get it, which was in an email that has been lost. – Phenom Aug 27 '10 at 19:57

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