Back Up My PC

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This page contains tips and instructions on how to back up files and settings on a PC (Windows) computer.

Your Software Needs

Make a list of software you will need to install on on your new or re-imaged computer.

  1. Begin by reviewing our standard software list -- these programs are installed without you needing to ask.
  2. Next, refresh your memory about the software you use:
    • Review the program icons on your Taskbar and Desktop.
    • Click the Start button (Windows icon, far left) then review the displayed list of program entries and folders.
  3. Adobe software (including Acrobat DC for editing PDFs) is available for installation at your convenience using http://go/getadobe/.
  4. For your other software needs, check our self-service website (http://go/selfservice/) to see if installers are available to you there. If not, you will need to ask ITS to install this software for you.

Locally-Stored Files

"Local" files are ones that are only stored on your computer's hard drive (as opposed to in the cloud or in a dept. folder on Middfiles). If copies of such files are not saved elsewhere then they will not be available on your new or refreshed computer.

If you have documents scattered all over your desktop, or if you use folders such as "Documents," "Pictures," and "Music", then you have items that will be lost if you do not take appropriate steps! Here's what to do:

  1. Open File Explorer by clicking the folder icon on your Task Bar.
  2. On Windows 10, expand This PC to display its contents; on Windows 11 computers the local folders are already displayed in the navigation pane.
  3. You'll see a variety of local folders which can contain important items. Review the contents of these folders in particular, looking for files ending in .docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc.:
    • Desktop (This folder holds everything you have on your computer's desktop!)
    • Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos (These folders are where most people find items they need to copy elsewhere.)
    • Downloads (Check here in case you need to save any recently downloaded files.)
    • iTunes Library (See section below for instructions on how to move this properly.)
  4. Drag and drop work-related files from these local folders to OneDrive, Google Drive, shared departmental cloud or middfiles storage (or other appropriate storage devices) to ensure access from your replacement computer.
    • Refer to OneDrive use (or "Google Drive use") for detailed instructions on Middlebury's cloud storage setup and use.
    • Any media files, such as pictures and videos, may be stored in your Middlebury OneDrive or Google Drive folder or departmental shared storage if they are work-related, otherwise please copy them to a personally-owned external storage device or to personal cloud storage.

Browser Favorites (Bookmarks)

Most web browsers now support syncing of bookmarks and other settings so you don't have to locate and copy them yourself. Once you create an account you can use it to log in on other devices; your bookmarks and settings will be brought in for you automatically! See appropriate links below to learn how to take advantage of this handy feature.

Web browsers also support saving bookmarks and settings to a file that can be used on different devices or browsers. This process is known as exporting and importing.

Note Printers You Currently Use

You'll want to jot down the names of the printers that are currently installed on your computer. Here's how to find the details:

  1. Click the Start button (Windows icon, far left), then type Printers to start a searchOpen Printers & Scanners.
  2. Write down the printer names -- or take a screen snapshot.

You will need to re-install these printers for use on your new or refreshed computer.

Outlook Points to Consider

Additional Mailboxes

Do you have access to other email accounts in addition to your own? Scroll through Outlook's navigation pane at left and note the names of all other such accounts.  It's best to know what should appear as only accounts for which you are the owner will re-appear automatically on the new or refreshed computer. You will need to add all others manually.


If you only use one or two Outlook signatures, it's quicker to recreate them by copying from an old message once you have your new or refreshed computer.

If you use multiple signatures, you'll want to save the files for later use. Here's how:

  1. Launch Outlook, then click File / Options, then Mail.
  2. Hold down the CTRL key when you click the Signatures button. This opens the hidden folder where the signatures files are stored.
  3. Use CTRL+A to select them all.
  4. Right-click any selected file, then choose Copy.
  5. Navigate to a storage location (OneDrive or Google Drive) then create a new folder where you can store the signatures for later use.
  6. Open your new folder, right-click in the right-hand pane, then choose Paste. Your signature files are now stored for later use.
  7. Close the Signatures window, then click OK.

Favored Views

If you have made numerous adjustments to the pieces of information Outlook displays and how it looks, you might benefit from saving your view with a name. Named views can be re-applied easily and are stored on the email server in the cloud, making them accessible to your new or refreshed computer.

To save a view:

  1. Click Outlook's View tab.
  2. Click the Change View button; you'll see Outlook's preset views as well as any you may have created.
  3. If needed, click Save Current View as a New View.
  4. Supply a name for your new view, then select All Mail and Post folders to make it available for use in any Outlook folder.

Archived Email

This is an uncommon situation and most users who have Outlook Archive folders know they need to take special steps to preserve them.

Outlook contains a feature called AutoArchive which saves all e-mail older than 6 months to a file on your local hard drive and deletes it from our email servers. We do not typically recommend using AutoArchive, but we occasionally find it in use -- often by accident -- so it's good to take a look. 

  1. In the Outlook navigation pane, see if you have entries for Personal File Folders or Archive Folders -- the contents of these are stored on the local computer itself, not on the e-mail server. You can use Control Panel => Mail => Data Files to open the folder where the .pst files are stored, then back them up.
  • You can also navigate directly to your Outlook folder using File Explorer -- typically the path looks similar to this:
  1. Highlight all files ending in ".pst" Make sure in particular your selection includes "outlook.pst" and/or "archive.pst".
  2. If File Explorer does not show file extensions, click View, then check the box to display file name extensions.  (On Windows 11, click View, then Show, then File name Extensions.
  3. Select Edit | Copy from the menu to copy the selected files.
  4. Open the folder where you want to put your backup copies in File Explorer (such as your OneDrive - Middlebury College folder).
  5. Select Edit | Paste from the menu to paste your .pst files to the backup location.


  • How To MOVE your iTunes library to a new computer (Apple's support information)
    Follow the instructions to create (or update) an iTunes backup, then move it manually to appropriate storage that can be accessed from your replacement or refreshed computer.
If you are an Apple iTunes user and store music, photos, etc. on your computer, it is very important that you Deauthorize your old computer before ITS replaces it. This process allows you to release your personal iTunes account (with attached device ID) so it can be applied on a new computer.

Other Customizations to Consider

  • Office Templates
  • Quick Access Toolbars
  • Ribbons
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Article ID: 169
Thu 8/26/21 3:34 PM
Wed 5/1/24 1:01 PM

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