How to backup software programs and games before a complete factory default restore


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Question: How to backup software programs and games before a factory default restore



I am intending to do a complete restore and would really like not to have to reinstall the complete "Programs and Features" list of software I've installed. I have a WD external hard drive, but my experience is, it only seems to keep the folder, but is missing a component or something to actually start most of the programs after one is discovered missing or has been deleted. This isn't very useful, if programs have to be reinstalled after a restore because the program's backup folder is useless, what is the point of a backup.

I hear a lot of "pictures, videos, and documents" and even mail, but I really want to backup program software I've purchased and also freeware programs I've downloaded. The other category never mentioned, and I guess could be included in videos?, is games. I have 10 to 20 purchased games on two different websites and whenever I have done a system restore, I always have to download each one again. The same with Audible Audiobooks, I have to download about 20 separate downloads to recover a simple collection.

I'm totally new to computers and maybe I don't fully understand how to correctly use backup possibilities, but shouldn't there be a way to put everything saved (backed up) back to its original place and everything work as it should.

PS
And is there a way to save a game's progress before a complete system recovery? Is there a folder for the game's progress that could be put on the backup hard drive? I don't know how many times I have had to restart games that have progressed for 35 hours of play time or more, just because I can't figure out how to retrieve or backup the game's accumulated progress.


shewood1
 
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The missing components are the registry keys and the files of the installed softwares found in C:\ProgramData folder which is hidden by default in windows 7

Most of the games save their user files in D:\Users\XXXX\Documents folder
XXXX stands for your user name or the name of the User account.Back up those files fond in the documents folder

Browse these folders with the name of the game or name of the manufacturer of the game

Example-- NFS Most Wanted files are found in C:\Users\XXXX\Documents\NFS Most Wanted
NFS Hot pursuit files are found in C:\Users\XXXX\Documents\EA Games\Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2
Stop downloading the same thing again.Download a full installer or offline installer of the software and save it to your HDD.While downloading with Internet explorer use the save optin insted of the run or open optins to save the setup file to C:\Users\XXXX\Downloads by defult and install it from there.
Today onwards save every setup file you downloaded to a drive other than C for future Re installations
Most of the free wares works without installing you just has to run the main executable from the program files folder.
Some sharewares also requires no installations but you have to enter the serial key for registering or activation
Try to recover the serials for your softwares.They can be found in the About menu in the software
Recoverkeys is a excellent software for recovering the serials but it is not free
http://recover-keys.com/

About 25% of modern softwares has to to be installed using the orginal setup files (antiviruses,Firewalls,MS Office,CD Burning softwares like Nero,Deamon Tools etc)

You can find some of the installation files of softwares on you pc in C:\Windows\Installer
It is for setups which uses the Windows Installation Package(.msi extension)
The folder is hidden by default in windows 7
To know which file installs what,right click the file and select properties and go to the details tab
 
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Kougar

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As Amaltom said, just because you back up the game / data files, doesn't mean you actually backed up the program. Programs typically install data and configuration settings in the hidden Users/AccountName/Appdata directory as well as registry configuration settings.

If you want to do a COMPLETE wipe as you are discussing then there really isn't many options. My advice would be to simply back up the settings, configuration files, game saves/account information, and any other personal info like email, account info, and mods/patches that a game or setting might possibly contain.

Now one option you can do in the future, is once you have a NEW, clean install and have all your programs installed, configured, and ready to go.... then use a disk imaging program to create a disk image. Then in the future you can use that disk image to revert back to a clean system, but with all of your original programs intact and ready to be used as you want right now.

Since you mention games.... be sure to grab any profile / saves / other game data from your root documents folder and your Documents/my games folder.
 

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