How does Windows choose which files to back up?

When you back up your files using Windows Backup, you can let Windows choose what is backed up or you can select the individual folders and drives that you want to back up. Depending on what you select, your backup will contain the items described in the following sections.

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Let Windows choose

If you let Windows choose what is backed up, the following items are included in your backup:

  • Data files that are saved in libraries, on the desktop, and in default Windows folders for all people with a user account on the computer.

    Notes

    • Only local files in libraries are included in the backup. If you have files in a library that are saved on a drive located on a different computer on a network, on the Internet, on the same drive that you are saving the backup on, or on a drive that is not formatted using the NTFS file system, they aren't included in the backup.

    • Default Windows folders include AppData, Contacts, Desktop, Downloads, Favorites, Links, Saved Games, and Searches.

  • If the drive you are saving your backup on is formatted using the NTFS file system and has enough disk space, a system image of your programs, Windows, and all drivers and registry settings are also included in the backup. This image can be used to restore the contents of your computer if your hard drive or computer stops working. For more information, see What is a system image?

Let me choose

You can choose to back up individual folders, libraries, or drives.

Notes

  • All files in known system folders (folders that contain files that Windows needs to run), and known program files (files that define themselves as part of a program in the registry when the program is installed) will not be backed up even if they are in a selected folder.

  • If a folder or drive is not selected, the contents of that folder or drive are not backed up.

Windows Backup won't back up the following items:

  • Program files (files that define themselves as part of a program in the registry when the program is installed).

  • Files stored on hard disks that are formatted using the FAT file system.

  • Files that are in the Recycle Bin.

  • Temporary files on drives smaller than 1 GB.