If you are a Windows 7 user and have gone through the C drive, you’ll have probably seen a folder called Users. This Users folder stores all your user profiles, which includes all your settings and user data.
Since your user profile has all your important documents and settings, it makes sense to back up a copy so that if your PC crashes, you can easily restore back the settings. However, you can not back up the user profile folder by just copying the folder to a safe place because it will always be in use when you’re logged in. There is a risk that files are not copied properly and leads to data loss.
There are several methods by which we can backup the complete user profile.
1. Backup User Profile Using Windows Backup
The Windows Backup method is the easiest method to back up a user profile in Windows 7.
- Go to Windows Start Menu Search and type “backup and restore“. Select the first search result which will be Windows Backup and Restore utility.
- Select the destination where you would like to back up your user profile. You can either choose a drive in your computer or a network share. There is no option to select a specific folder to back up to.
- Once you have selected the drive, it will create a folder called Backup and back up all your data in the Backup folder.
- On the next screen, you should choose “Let me choose” radio button to select the profile to back up.
On the next screen, you have to choose what you want to back up. You should un-check everything and only select the user profile folder that you want to back up. Also make sure that you have unchecked “Include a system image of drives: (C:).”
Clicking on “Next” will take you to the next screen to check your backup settings. Make sure everything is correct. Click “Save settings and exit”. You may also schedule the backup to automatically backup the specified folder at regular intervals. You can also run the backup now from Backup and Restore Control Panel item.
2. Backup User Profile Using Windows User Profile Tool
The second method is much simpler to use. Windows provides a User Profile Tool to copy, delete or move a user profile.
- Go to Windows Start Menu Search and search for “View advanced system settings“. Select the first result which will open Advanced System Properties.
- There are three settings: performance, user profiles and startup and recovery. Click the Settings button under User Profiles.
- This will open up the User Profiles settings. The user profiles of all the users are listed here. You can select any user and delete the profile or change its type.
In most cases, you will find that the “Copy To” button is disabled. To enable it, download Enabler and run it (the Enabler is portable, you just need to unzip and run. There is no need to install).
Run Enabler and click Enable.
Note: When you run Enabler, make sure that only the User Profiles settings window is open. If there is more than one window open, Enabler will try to process each window and will hang in the middle if there are many windows open.
This will, most probably, enable the “Copy To” button. If it is not enabled, just close the window and open the User Profile settings again. You’ll need to select the user profile from the list to enable to “Copy To” button.
In most cases, the Enabler will work but there are times when it will not be able to enable the “Copy To” button. You’ll need to try again and again until it works.
3. Backup User Profile Using DataGrab
DataGrab is a portable user profile backup tool with lots of options for backup customization. Once you open DataGrab, it will automatically find the user profile folder in the system drive. You can also select other drives if there are user profile data placed in any other drive other than the Windows system drive.
You can select which folders in the user profile to back up. DataGrab will automatically list all the folders under the user profile of that user. It also gives options to back up application data of important software like Outlook, Firefox etc. There are several other options that you can configure if you want further customization. The last thing to check out before hitting the Copy button is the Backup Location. You should change the backup location from the default C:\\ClientData to some other drive other than the system drive. This will give you more security of the backup. DataGrab also allows you to append the date to the backup folder. This is beneficial if you are taking regular backups through DataGrab.
The biggest advantage of DataGrab is that it can also be use to back up an Offline Windows installation. If your Windows get corrupted, you only need to attach that hard drive to a running Windows System and backup the user profiles from the dead Windows. You can even burn DataGrab on a CD-ROM and boot from the CD-ROM to back the problematic system.
Another feature of DataGrab worth mentioning is the different copy methods supported. It supports different methods to copy the data to a safe location. This ensures that if one method fails, there’s always another method to work on. The recommended copying method is using Unstoppable Copier. By default, Unstoppable Copier is not included in DataGrab and you need to download it and place it in the DataGrab folder. If DataGrab finds Unstoppable Copier, it’ll will automatically use this preferred method.
You can download DataGrab from the author’s site.
What other ways do you use to back up your Windows user profile?