Your PC’s hard drive could fail at any time or a software bug could erase your files, so backups are critical. However, you don’t need to back up all the files on your PC. That would waste space and make your backups take longer to complete.

Below is our list of the top 5 folders you should backup up on Microsoft Windows.

AppData and ProgramData

In the AppData folder (C:/Users/{Username}/AppData) you will find both Roaming (moves with user to another system) and Local (specific to a system) data. Prioritize the Roaming data and backup apps that require user specific configurations. The ProgramData folder (C:/ProgramData) stores app settings and data that are not tied to individual users. Backup files that you might need in the future.

Documents

Your documents folder (C:/Users/{Username}/Documents) is generally where all of your personal files and documents are saved. Some software developers also use this folder to store app-related data. Regardless this folder should be top of your list to backup.

Downloads

The majority of web browsers and media default to the downloads folder (C:/Users/{Username}/Downloads) for downloading files. Backup this folder or the individual files if you don’t want to download again.

Email

There are a number of emails clients out there and they all store data differently. In general, if you use IMAP you don’t need to worry about backing up your emails. However, if you use POP3 you may need to back them up. Further investigation will be required to see if you need to backup your emails.

Music, Pictures, Videos

Similar to the documents folder, Windows provides special folders for storing personal media files.

Music (C:/Users/{Username}/Music)

Pictures (C:/Users/{Username}/Pictures)

Videos (C:/Users/{Username}/Videos)

Some apps use these folders for storing local files. If you have media files not saved elsewhere or don’t want to download the files again backup this folder.

Now that you have gotten through the top folders and files you need to backup you are probably wondering which you can ignore. Drivers and program files (C:/Program Files and C:/Program Files (x86)) are specific to your machine and don’t make sense to backup. Temp files are exactly what they say they are – temporary – and no backup is required.

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