How can I backup the information I cant see before formatting A Windows Box? ~ Ask The Admin

Thursday, July 03, 2008

How can I backup the information I cant see before formatting A Windows Box?

Every time a machine gets put in front of me that needs to be formatted I first have to backup all the user's personal data. I can't see their passwords for their IM or Email accounts - So how can I retrieve it? We have covered programs that reveal the password behind the Asterisks before but this goes much further. Check out what we can backup with this method:

  • Documents/Pictures/Music Collections
  • Mail Settings (Accounts, Passwords, Address Book etc.
  • Dialup & VPN Setting.
  • Messengers Accounts
  • Windows & Applications License Keys.
  • and much more...

Data such as Documents and Media files are simple to backup. But how can I know what's behind those asterisks to save their passwords? You ask how can I collect all those licenses and other hidden data ???? And how can we do it FAST and efficient? We definitely don't want to end up like lost password Lucy below...

Well, the solution comes from a great site for small and useful freeware utilities called NirSoft. The site includes many utilities that reveals your precious information. It's like the missing piece of the puzzle. Some of us have used the Windows documents and settings migration tools - but this is so much better.

But wait! What I need to satisfy the inner admin in me IS - Automation !!

So I've collected some of the utilities, added my own batch script and packed it all to an automated self-extracted archive called: SaveMyData

When you run it, this batch will:

  • Collect all your private settings.
  • Export the data to text files.
  • Save the files in a Backup folder in your system drive.
The Settings includes:

Mail Settings, VPN & Dialups Passwords, Product Keys, Messengers Passwords , IE AutoComplete Passwords, Network Passwords, Wireless Networks Keys (WEP/WPA)

* note: one of the tools (Pspv) exports the data to a Text file and also to a Data file that can later be manually imported back using that same tool.

I know that these utilities drastically changed the amount of time I need to dedicate to the pre-format actions.

I sure hope it will help you guys too :-)