I don’t promote unless you really know what you are doing.  The point of this post is if you don’t have time for a full backup and all you want are the most critical files.

Warning:  Do not do unless you have another recent full back up from some third party programs

Third Party Backup Programs

You can never have enough backups

But my computer won’t boot or boots but acting really sloooooooooooow?  This article is not for you.  Consider reading this post on making a USB rescue stick and adding Paragon Backup and Recovery to it.


My Full Backup Exists!

Really?  Did you save your license keys?

License Recovery Tool – Reactivating Windows 10

Use Belark Advisor to recover most licenses.  Though, it does not work on MS Office since the release of 2013.  Hopefully, they have they know the email and or have the email of when they purchased Office or any other software for that matter.

Window 10 requires a product key for it to operate.  Recover your old product key through reading this post.

A fair amount of users are now using Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive.  However, it misses a fair amount of data and most people don’t even know they are using OneDrive and would not call it a true backup.  It’s syncing files to the cloud.  The typical files (not guaranteed) to backup when you’re pretty confident in your existing backup are located here:


How to search for PST and OST locations on your C drive.

Outlook PST search

Typical Outlook file locations

C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\PST_file_name.pst
C:\Users\user name\documents\outlook files\

ProTip!  The source may vary from if they are using Exchange and the Exchange file is a .ost not pst.  Grab all settings within Mail32 in control panel before proceeding with any wipe and read more about Outlook here.

It’s faster to restore your data when you copy your existing PST to the AppData location once you created a new profile.  Immediately exit Outlook once the profile is created and IMAP begins syncing the inbox.  Then change the newly created .PST file extension to .old.  Then copy your data from your quick back manual copy/backup from an external drive to C:\Users\user name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\ and rename it the name of the current file with a .pst as an extension.

Outlook PST Path

Documents and Data

Windows 8 and 10 hides the Documents folder really well for unknown reasons.  Read how to fix that in our Windows 10 support FAQ






Quickbooks working file is in a funky location.  It’s in public and not the users personal profile.  I would perform a Quickbooks backup within the program before wiping.  Read more details on Quickbooks messy setup here.

C:\Users\Public\Public Documents\Intuit\QuickBooks\Company Files



Not too many people have random databases like ACT! or Access but it’s worth inquiring about and finding its location


Where am I stashing all this data?

Windows backup, wipe, and restore techniques are as only as good as your hardware you purchased with reading this.  Check out this Amazon deal: Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard … by Seagate for backing up your data.  Also, consider upgrading your SATA drive to a faster solid state drive at the same time.  This may be your opportune moment.  Contact your computer manufacture to see if there’s any limitation with upgrading to a SSD.   I have had problems with the PC sleep option and a storage size limitation when upgrading to SSD.


Windows Backup, Wipe, and Restore

Connect external, add these folders, and copy data from the PC to them.




Device Manager

Take a snap of your Device Manager.  Again, you’ll thank me later when you run into device drivers issues.  I expanded the most problematic device driver fields.

Device Manager


Performing a Quick Windows Backup, Wipe, and Restore Summary


As you can see here, there are obviously some serious things to look at before wiping.   Take a long pause and reflection of all you are doing before wiping your computer.  You’ll thank me later.



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