Before you wipe Windows... –

If you're planning on re-installing Windows for the 13th time this month, selling your PC to get the latest model, or anything where you're going to lose the contents of your hard drive, you might want to consider backing up some of the items below.

Anything in My Documents If you use it.

Search all hard drives for the types of files you normally work on For me this is *.tcl, *.html, *.php, *.java, *.doc and *.jpg for me, but you might have Excel spreadsheets, music files, etc.

If there's a place where your downloads go, check that I'm thinking of those times when I was too lazy to file the file and left it in C:\Program Files\Getright.

Check the MRUs of your common apps The "most recently used" lists, usually found on the file menu of applications such as the Microsoft Office suite, Textpad, other stuff I don't use.

Desktop(s) My desktop is always cluttered. That goes for my real ones too :) If you have multiple logins for Windows, don't forget the profiles folder in your windows folder.

Scan through your "Add / Remove Programs" list to refresh your memory There might be shareware programs whose installation files are still hanging around, for example.

Saved games Don't let those all-night Command & Conquer sessions go to waste!

Export your e-mails I use Outlook and my mails are already in a .pst file which can just be copied. I also use Thunderbird, which uses the mbox format. The is are 2 files for each folder, the main mbox file and an index file. The mbox file has the same name as the folder in Thunderbird, the index has an msf extension. The exact location of these files depends on your OS. For me on XP it's C:\Documents and Settings\myuser\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\5hekeor5.default\Mail\ where there's a folder for local folders and a folder for my mail account.

Save your web bookmarks For IE copy the Favorites folder; for Mozilla & Firefox copy bookmarks.html from your profile.

Sneaky configuration files... the syntax files for Textpad that live in the system folder where ever Textpad was installed.

Proxy settings If you're behind a firewall it's worth noting the settings for your browser.

IE Trusted sites Regular Internet Explorer users know it's full of holes and hence have high security settings for the internet, allowing only trusted sites to use scripting & other risky features. My list of trusted sites is too big to have to type in every time, so I export it from HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings\ZoneMap using regedit. UNTESTED.

Autoexec.bat & Config.sys If you have DOS drivers, don't forget your autoexec.bat and config.sys and the files they refer to.

Dial-up networking You can't check the password of that account you set up 3 years ago, but you can at least make a note of your current DNS.

System Properties It's sometimes handy to get a print out of the system properties. This will tell you the driver, IRQs and other scary stuff for all your hardware.

.ini files Some applications are endlessly configurable and keep their settings in a config file either in the same folder as the program, or in windows. Or windows\system.

Hosts If you have a network might need to keep windows\hosts.

Fonts You'll just die if you can't print your CV in "Groovy70sFunkSoulFontMan".

Serial Numbers For those of you who have misplaced your official documentation/cd box, you can usually get the serial number of applications that use them in Help\About...

Rips / Disk images If you rip CDs, DVDs, or have other software that uses large disk images, check for these files.

VMware If you have any virtual machines on your PC, either copy those or go through this whole process for them also.

Partitions Don't forget the other partitions on the disk if you have any.