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I would like to know if there is any (especially free) solution to back up and restore settings from applications (even if only from a whitelist of the most popular ones), both for XP and further versions of Windows.

Most of the applications I see are designed to work in XP solely for the purpose of upgrading to Windows 7 - I would like one that could also transfer settings to Windows XP.

I know XP is an old system, and that new installs of it are not recommended. This recommendation makes a lot of sense depending on the country, and it does not apply to this case; I'm simply asking for an XP-friendly solution.

Do note that I'm not asking for a way to transfer applications or documents, just settings is more than enough. Anything else is a bonus.

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The problem is with the definition of “settings”. There are countless “settings” in Windows both system-wide and user-specific. And that’s just with Windows itself, let alone settings related to third-party programs. Unfortunately you really will need to be more specific as to your needs. – Synetech Feb 11 '12 at 4:34
@Synetech Any kind of support would be appreciated, for example, just being able to back up settings of popular applications (browsers, IM clients, VoIP, etc) along with simple OS settings such as wallpapers and user account settings (maybe whole user accounts?) would help already. You see, when people call me because "the browser's home page is not the same and I can't figure out how I changed it before" after a reformat, then any help is help I appreciated, even a software that backs up really rudimentary settings is welcome as a suggestion. – Camilo Martin Feb 11 '12 at 5:00
Sadly, settings are scattered throughout the system in numerous formats and places. Some are stored in the registry, some in files, some in this folder, others in a different one. Some in binary files, while yet others in plain-text ones. Unfortunately there is no single repository of setting-locations or backup program that can do-it-all. You best bet is to search for a backup program that supports third-party apps and/or look for application-specific information. – Synetech Feb 11 '12 at 5:09
@Synetech I understand no solution will do-it-all. I understand that settings for some applications could even be quite hard to extract. But a solution for common applications would already be quite nice. Also, maybe somebody has thought about making it extensible. For example, take a look at CCleaner. It cleans settings for many applications (therefore it knows where these are), and some people have extended it to a point where even some obscure programs are covered. Something extensible would be cool. – Camilo Martin Feb 11 '12 at 9:07
Yes, that would certainly be sweet. In fact, a long time ago (10+ years) I had the idea of just writing my own backup program that can be easily extended to support any program. Unfortunately I never had enough time to do much work on it. – Synetech Feb 11 '12 at 21:55
up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you want to do it manually, here are the locations most software store their data at -

%AppData% -

  • C:\Users\AppData\Roaming in Vista and Windows 7
  • C:\Documents and Settings\Application Data in XP

%LocalAppData% -

  • C:\Users\AppData\Local in Windows 7
  • C:\Documents and Settings\Local Settings\Application Data in XP

C:\ProgramData in Windows 7.

C:\Program Files, and C:\Program Files (x86) (64-bit systems only)

Settings at Registry are stored mostly inside -


This is just a manual effort, I'll post of any software I come across that does the same job.

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Thanks a lot, this made me think about writing a tool to do this. It could prove trivial, considering the benefits (I'll have to re-format a lot of computers in the near future), and if there's really no free, open-source alternative, it'd be a cool project! – Camilo Martin Feb 11 '12 at 9:10
By the way, by trivial, I mean a tool which would take a snapshot of the system, then the user would change settings in his application, and take a second snapshot, then record the places where the application stored the settings. So basically it would be a semi-automated process of adding "supported applications" to a list, and using that list to migrate settings on real machines (the recognition process could be done in a VM), in case anyone's wondering. I understand blindly copying these folders and registry keys would cause havoc. – Camilo Martin Feb 11 '12 at 21:19
I just wanted to note a couple of things: on Linux, backing up configurations is as simple as backing up the home dir. It's effing sweet, everything backed up without a single problem, and quite some applications even. Another thing is that in the future I'll be making my own (humble) app to take care of this, so your answer mostly covers it. – Camilo Martin Mar 12 '12 at 5:55

Windows Easy Transfer - transfer your data to a new computer. Direcly in Windows 7. Here is something about it:

I just found this app .
It claims to be application manager. I have no time to test it right now, but here is review:

There is also GameSave Manager, if you play games. I use it few years ago and it was perfect:

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The problem with Windows Easy Transfer is that I'm sure it won't work if e.g., you want to take something from Windows 8 and put it on Windows 7. About the two alternatives you mention, they seem interesting; I wonder if you can customize them. I think that's important because if it can't automatically pick up one app, having a way to tell it which files and directories to pick (or, for that matter, which ones not to) would be an useful feature. Thanks for the answer, though! – Camilo Martin Aug 11 '14 at 8:02

this new tool, called CloneApp can do all this

Rather than backing up the system or even the software, it backs up registry keys and configuration files with a pretty convenient gui.

Its a portable app, and you can backup any settings you wish.

There's a pretty extensive list of software it'll back up, and its possible to write new plugins. With the currently installed plugins, click on select installed, and start cloneapp to clone your current settings, and it'll do its thing.

You'll want to make sure any software you're backing up isn't running and it backs up some of your user files as well.

Download, run, and it'll save everything you picked to a folder. Hit restore to restore. enter image description here

While the screenshot's from windows 10, it works in XP as well.

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Please read How do I recommend software for some tips as to how you should go about recommending software. You should provide more than just a link, for example some additional information about the software itself, and how it can be used to solve the problem in the question. – DavidPostill Oct 28 '15 at 18:16
While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – DavidPostill Oct 28 '15 at 18:16
I ended up expanding the answer, since this is a pretty nice piece of software which I've been struggling to remember the name of for ages. I hope the OP will take a look, and write future answers to least this standard ^^. I'll have to try it on an XP box later – Journeyman Geek Oct 29 '15 at 0:02

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