Backing up Software Profiles

Published December 15, 2014

Back in the day when it was easy to wipe my computer clean, reformat and re-install the operating system, I had gotten into the habit of backing up my files. Although I backed up the files, I never backed up my profiles. I guess I never realized how important they were or didn’t really know how to do it. Now, backing up profiles are just as important as backing up files.


Quick aside:  The files on my hard drive are organized the exact same way as if I had a metal file cabinet. The main folder is called File Cabinet. Within the File Cabinet are folders labeled A, B, C., D, etc all the way to W (I haven’t had a need for X, Y and Z yet).

Within each alphabetical folder are filed the appropriate documents, images, etc. This makes it easy to backup my files. All I need to do is copy the File Cabinet to the storage device and I’m done (except for the profiles).

Let's Talk about Profiles

Profiles are what customize your software to your liking. For example, my web browsers have my bookmarks, cache files, settings, etc. that make it easy for me to find places, usernames and sometimes passwords on the web. My iTunes profile keeps my audio library intact and my email profile keeps my emails and preferences intact.

Each software program (or most of them) has individual profiles. By backing up and restoring them, it saves you the time and frustration of having to recreate and re-tweak the software to your liking. The only challenge is finding each program’s profile.

Finding Your Software’s Profile

The best and easiest way to locate profiles is to do an Internet search asking, where is my “insert software program name” profile located? You can change the wording of the query, as long as the gist is the same. You’ll find results that give directions for locating the software’s profile.

For example, here are links to a few programs for which I had to locate my profile:

  1. NaturallySpeaking
  2. Mozilla Thunderbird
  3. Mozilla Firefox
  4. Google Chrome
  5. iTunes

What I’ve found is the longer I’ve had the program, the larger the profile. Some of the profiles are in excess of a gigabyte. I guess if I were so inclined, I’d create a new profile from scratch every few years. Doing so will weed out those modifications that I no longer need/use and reduce the size of my profile. But, I’m not so inclined, at least not yet.

Equipped with my software installation files, File Cabinet and profiles, it is quicker and easier to get back up and running from a reformat. Problems will arise, however, if the backup is incomplete or you’re missing software installation files (or if you're using Microsoft products).

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 10 February 2023

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