Copying your Home folder

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About this article

This article includes instructions for copying your Home folder on both a PC and Mac. It is intended for students and employees.

When to copy your Home folder

Copying your home folder is a surefire way to ensure all files stored in your default folders (Desktop, Documents, Downloads, etc) get backed up. This will backup nearly all of your stored files, however, it also will backup unneeded files and folders that are for system use only. For this reason it is important you have you data organized so you can sift through your content, and ensure you can restore your files post-backup.

Fig 1. Hard drive and home folder icons for HP 840

Copying your Home folder on a PC

On a PC, your Home folder is the folder on your desktop labeled with your name (Fig 1). Your Home folder contains all of the default folders created for you when you received your computer, including your Documents, Music, and Pictures folders. It also includes your Desktop folder. For more information on the Home folder, consult: Where on your PC laptop are your files.

  1. From your Desktop, right-click on the Home folder icon (the one with your name on it, not This PC) and choose Copy
  2. Open up your personal network drive or external hard drive, right-click somewhere in the window, and select Paste
  3. You may need to select Yes if asked to provide Administrator access

Copying your Home folder on a Mac

On a Mac, your Home folder contains all of the default folders created for you when you received your computer, including your Documents, Music, and Pictures folders. It also includes your Desktop folder. For more information on the Home folder, consult: Where on your Mac laptop are your files.

First find your home folder. You can do this from hard drive icon on your desktop or from the Finder:

From the hard drive icon

  1. Double-click the hard drive icon
  2. Double-click the Users subfolder
  3. Double-click the icon that looks like a house labeled with your StarID

Copy folder(s)

  1. Select the folders that you want to copy.
  2. Open up your personal network drive or external hard drive, right-click somewhere in the window, and select Paste
  3. or drag the folders that you want to copy to your backup location.

From the Finder

  1. Select the Go menu
  2. Select Home

Copy folder(s)

  1. Select the folder with your StarID, right-click and select Copy "StarId"
  2. Open up your personal network drive or external hard drive, right-click somewhere in the window, and select Paste

Pro tips

  • You cannot paste your Home folder, or any folder, into your OneDrive for Business.
  • Check the size of your Home folder before you copy it
  • Your Home folder on a PC contains a large, hidden subfolder used by Windows called AppData. You do not need to copy this subfolder. Before you copy your Home folder, make sure View Hidden Files is unchecked and the copy process will bypass it. If you don't see the AppData folder, that means it's already hidden.
  • The copy process may take some time if you have a lot of files in your Home folder and you are copying it to an external disk.
  • Restoring files from your Home folder may not always be as simple as overwriting your new computer's Home folder. There is no guarantee that your Home folder on your new computer will be structured exactly the same way as the Home folder on your old computer. It is strongly recommended that you restore your files from your backup Home folder one subfolder at a time.

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