I'm using Windows Backup to back up my Win7 Pro laptop. I'd like to use it to back up my complete user profile, but I only see standard profile directories (e.g. C:\Users\JohnstonJ\Documents) in the list. Non-standard ones aren't there (e.g. C:\Users\JohnstonJ\MyCustomDirectory).

What's the best way to handle this? The only thing I can think of is to browse under the "Computer" entry and navigate directly to C:\Users\JohnstonJ and check off the entire profile (to get what's in there, and any new directories that come up). But is that going to back up the profile twice? Cause other unforeseen problems given that I checked it off by navigating through the computer, rather than picking it under the "Data Files" category? (e.g. back up temporary file garbage, files in use problems, etc. that the "Data Files" category might be handling better).

Looking for solutions that other people use that are known to work well and still uses the Windows Backup software - I don't really want to fuss with 3rd-party backup software.

Example - as you can see, I have two directories in my profile that Windows Backup is not offering to back up: "Dropbox" and "New folder":

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  • Since you are using the libraries to manage your data: What about creating a new library with those two folders manually? You should be able to select the folders in the way you want then.
    – Ray
    Jun 10, 2012 at 10:52

2 Answers 2


As you've already realized yourself, referencing the files through the My Computer branch may not be desirable because it may treat the folder like a normal folder and not a profile folder.

The thing is, the folders that are not listed are not part of your profile. They just happen to be stored in the same location.

The folders that you can select for backup inside your profile all have special meaning to Windows. Your Dropbox folder doesn't mean anything to Windows. It's just another plain old folder.

Which is why you would want to select the folder through the plain old My Computer branch in the backup wizard ;)


So, one question remains, will this pose a problem for your backup?
Possibly. But I doubt it's for the reason you assume

I'm almost certain all selected locations are backed up in identical ways. The major difference will be how the data will be restored.

For example, your My Pictures folder, will always be restored into your My Pictures folder. No matter where on your system it is located. You could have moved it to Y:\Something\Users\James\My Pictures and your pictures would end up there.

Your folder C:\Users\James\Dropbox\... it will always be restored to C:\Users\James\Dropbox\.

I'm sure the distinction goes a bit deeper than fixed paths. But I'm sure the biggest part in the distinction is how the data is labeled for later restore.

  • Generally I'd say the user profile is the folder where everything else resides, i.e. \Users\Foo by default. This is also (excepting the local application data) the definition that is used with user profiles in domains. Saying that your profile only encompasses data under a few special folders is a bit misleading in my eyes.
    – Joey
    Jun 16, 2012 at 12:21
  • @Joey: I don't agree. But I might be misinformed. Maybe it's just an issue with the terminology I'm using. Feel free to improve my answer, maybe I will agree with you after I read it :) Jun 16, 2012 at 13:41
  • @Joey: I didn't realize you were the one who bountied the question. Let me elaborate on my position regarding the profile term. I always considered only those parts in the Users folder to be profile data, which is referenced as such by the system (like the contents of the AppData folder). A file that is placed in that folder is somewhat orphaned and not part of the profile. Or to put it differently yet again, `C:\Users\Oliver` is the storage location of my profile, but it doesn't represent my profile. I wrote the answer to the best of my knowledge and wouldn't know how to improve it. Jun 18, 2012 at 12:40

You can use DataGrab to backup your entire profile, including all the folders/settings in oyur user profile.

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You can download it here.

  • The original question does explicitly state that he'd prefer not to use third person tools though
    – Journeyman Geek
    Jun 10, 2012 at 13:43
  • @JourneymanGeek Missed that, yet I will keep this answer.
    – HackToHell
    Jun 10, 2012 at 13:46
  • 1
    +1 because of that tool. But it is not the actual answer though :)
    – avirk
    Jun 10, 2012 at 14:26
  • 3
    The tool is written in VB6, so it will likely not be able to handle Unicode file names at all. Which is a major drawback for people using that (and I certainly don't want my backup mangled).
    – Joey
    Jun 10, 2012 at 16:23

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