Just Me asked in Computers & InternetSoftware · 1 decade ago

Computer crashed - Which files should I try to save?

My computer crashed last week. The HDD had some sort of problem; it looks like maybe a corrupt MBR or similar issue because a scan of the drive reveals no errors. I put the HDD in another computer I have at home and using a file recovery program I can get at the files, but I will need to do a reformat and reinstall.

So, my question is: Which files should I try to backup? I am running XP SP2, Office 2003, Firefox and several other common applications. I have grabbed everything that was under My Documents, any Word Documents, my Outlook .pst file and a few other bits and pieces. Which other files should I go for? I'm thinking configuration files, bookmark files, address books, etc. But obviously they would have to be usable when I reinstall XP - not all apps let you simply copy over the old version of the config file.

And a reminder: I can't boot the drive or open any applications on the drive so I can't start Firefox, or Outlook, to do a proper backup of the files.



Thanks to those who have offered suggestions.

To clarify, I've tried everything to avoid reinstalling. I have tried FIXMBR, FIXBOOT, the Windows Recovery Console, etc., etc. Probably a few things I've tried have created even more problems. The computer needed a good "high colonic" anyway...!

What I'm most concerned with is specific files - file names/locations if possible. I could back up the entire hard drive but it wouldn't help me when it comes time to reinstalling - I need to know which files can simply be copied over and which will actually be of use. I seem to recall a lot of config/profile files can't simply be copied over for one reason or another.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Its easiest to just copy the entire c:\documents and settings\"username" directory, this should get most of your favorites, your desktop settings, etc. If you have any games on your system, a lot of times these are saved in their own directory in their program files folder. The config files are not for saving personal information that you should worry about using, they are for program settings only.

    And before formatting your HD and trusting it with your information again, do you know the cause of the problem in the first place, whether it was user or software error, or if it is a hardware failure. If you don't know for sure, or if it was a hardware failure, hard drives are getting cheap enough to buy a new one that you can trust, if it was human or software caused, then reformatting shouldn't be a problem! Also, for future reference (You may already know this because of this problem) NEVER allow windows to run checkdisk (or check your disk for "Consistency") , this will corrupt a Hard Drive faster than anything, and causes problems that weren't there to begin with, and a lot of data loss or mbr (fat) problems!

    Hope this helps

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  • 1 decade ago

    with your bookmarks and favourites, they are system folders so only copy the contents of the folders. You can paste the contents back in

    search for bookmarks.html and favourites.

    some info for you

    Partition the Hard drive – reasons


    Firstly C drive is compulsory for the Operating System (XP) (Vista), and you install all your programs on C drive.

    D drive is made for YOUR files.

    What you do is MOVE my documents to D drive.

    When you download music, videos, pictures from your camera or make any MS Office documents or save emails, you save it on D drive.

    The reason for this is to do with

    1. Hard drive failure - usually a failed hard drive will not boot, but can often be seen when hooked up as a slave.

    So when you get your new hard drive up and running, you can copy D drive from your old to your new. You haven’t lost anything.

    2. Virus. Normally virus are programmed to infect C drive. If you get a bad virus all that has to be done is format the C drive partition then re install you OS and programs from disks.

    You haven’t lost your personal stuff because its on D drive.

    3. Scanning your C drive for virus or spyware. These malware programs live on C drive. It is not necessary to scan D drive. It is a lot quicker to scan a small partition than a large hard drive.

    Now you can see the above is compromised by the fact that programs get updates and lots of programs are installed from the net. Therefore if you had to wipe out C drive it be hard to get it back to how it was.

    To remedy this we use Norton Ghost to image C drive and store the Image on D drive.

    (Vista requires a version 10 or newer of Ghost).

    If you get a bad virus you just use the Ghost disk to boot up on, then copy the image stored on D drive back over C drive.

    It takes less than 30 mins to rebuild C drive.

    Also you may have this running on say a 250 gig HDD, and it fails. You buy a new 400 gig HDD and install both into you computer, the failed one as a slave.

    Using the ghost disk to boot up on, you partition the 400 C drive to 30 gig (XP)and the remaining to D drive. Then you repack C drive from the image. Then Copy your old D drive files to your new one. In a time of less than 1 hour and it’s all running. The image loads all the drivers, OS everything.

    Then you update new images of C drive every few months so that the one stored on D drive is not to far out of date.

    On XP and Vista you create C drive to a maximum of (XP 30 gig, Vista 40 Gig) It doesn’t need to be any bigger, so don’t make C drive to big as you will not use it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Rather than try to pick and choose, I'd grab the entire Documents and Settings folder. That way you are sure to get all bookmarks, application settings, mailboxes, etc. This is where all the personalization info gets stored.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Not sure. Try to save the really important ones. You can also can take your computer where they reboot your computer and put your files back on to the computer.

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  • Elmo
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I think you have answered your own question, you can however, back up your favorites folder. All programs will have to be reinstalled.

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  • 1 decade ago

    when you have done try to repair the windows installation, it will keep all files and repair the operating system

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