PC backup - personal data older Elitebooks

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About this article

This article is intended for employees that are exchanging an older Elitebook that was distributed to them prior to 2012.

Fig 1. Hard drive and home folder icons for HP 8470w
Fig 2. Hard drive and home folder icons for HP 840
Fig 3. File Explorer
Fig 4. Sidebar for HP 8470w
Fig 4. Sidebar for HP 840
Fig 5. Your User or Home folder

Where are your files?

  • For PC laptops distributed prior to summer 2012, the space on the hard drive was divided into two partitions. The formatted volumes were labeled Boot/Programs (C:) and Data (D:). You were encouraged to keep your personal folders and files on D:, while C: was reserved for system files and applications. Since then, we have been allocating all of the hard drive space to a single partition and volume labeled Boot/Programs/Data (C:).
  • All EliteBooks have an icon on the Desktop that provides access to the hard drive. On older EliteBooks, that icon is called Computer or My Computer (Figure 1). On the the latest EliteBook 840, the icon is called This PC (Figure 2). Double-click this icon to open it. You can also open up the same view of the hard drive by selecting the File Explorer icon on the task bar at the bottom of your screen (Figure 3).
  • When you open your hard drive, you will see a list of locations on the left sidebar. The list will differ slightly depending on your EliteBook model. Older models will have a list with separate Computer and Libraries headings (Figure 4). The latest HP 840 will have things combined under the heading This PC (Figure 5).
  • There is also an icon on your desktop that opens your Home folder (Figures 1 & 2). If you open this folder, you will see several folders on what is called the root of the hard drive. Do not delete or rename any of these folders.

About the Home folder

Your Home folder is a special folder on your hard drive set up just for you. This is where you should save any personal or school-related file on your laptop. To help you keep your files organized, WSU created some sub-folders in your Home folder (e.g., Documents, Music, Pictures). You can use these folders if you wish or you can create your own. You can also create sub-folders within these folders (e.g., a Courses folder inside your Documents folder). Build a folder structure that works for you.

What's a default save location?

Some applications have default save locations for files you create using that application. For example, Microsoft Word opens a specific folder in your Home directory the first time you Save a document and every time you select Save As. WSU has already set the default save location of many of the applications that came installed on your EliteBook. For example, the default save location for Word is your Documents folder in your Home directory. When you install applications, a default save location is selected automatically or you are asked to select one during the installation process. You want the default save location to be a folder in your Home directory. For example, when you install Apple iTunes, it will use your Music folder in your Home directory. Sometimes, an application will pick a very strange and out of the way default save location. Keep your eyes on this as you install applications and change the default save location if needed. Also, be careful about deleting or renaming existing folders in your Home directory if they are default save locations for an application.

How do I access the Home folder?

From the Desktop

  1. Double-click the folder icon on your desktop labeled with your name (Figures 1 & 2)

From the C: directory

  1. Double-click the hard drive icon on your desktop (Figures 1 & 2)
  2. From the left sidebar, select Boot/Programs (C:), Boot/Programs/Data (C:), or Windows (C:), depending on your EliteBook model
  3. Open the User folder
  4. Your home folder is the one with your username as the folder name (Figure 5)

About the sub-folders in your Home folder

Documents, Music, Pictures, and Movies

These are folders that we created for you thinking that this might be a nice way for you to organize your files. If this works for you, great. If you want to create new folders with new names, that's fine too. However, keep in mind that these folders are default save locations for various applications. Even if you don't want to use them, please don't delete them for awhile until you are sure you have your own folder structure and default save locations worked out.


The Desktop folder in your Home directory contains all the folders, files, and shortcuts found out on your desktop. Some people like to store things, lots of things, right on their desktop. They save files, folders, and shortcuts to applications right out on the desktop. If this method works for you and you want to replicate it on another EliteBook, back up the Desktop folder and then copy and paste it to your Home directory on the other machine. Note that your shortcuts will not work on the new laptop if the applications they link to are not in the same place. The fastest way to restore them is to delete them and recreate them on the new laptop.


This folder contains any application update, printer driver, or other software or hardware-related file you ever downloaded from the web. The vast majority of these files do not need to be retained because you will probably never use them again. However, this folder may also contain manuals, journal articles, image files, and other useful, downloaded documents or media that you do want to retain. Take a look through your Downloads folder regularly. Delete anything you don't need and move anything important to another folder to better organize it. Ideally, your Downloads folder should be empty.

Other sub-folders

There may be many other sub-folders in your Home folder. Some applications that you install on your laptop will create sub-folders in your Home folder to store personal data and files associated with that application. For example, installing TechSmith Camtasia creates a folder in your Home directory to store your project files. The actual application itself is stored in another location. For most applications, you can change their default save locations if you wish, but always check any sub-folders in your Home folder to see if there is anything in there you want to back up and retain.

Public folder

The Public folder is at the same level as your home folder (Figure 5). Because Windows 8.1 is a multi-user operating system, the Public folder is there to allow you to store files that would be accessible to other people who log on to your EliteBook. Because no one but you typically logs on to your laptop, this folder isn't very useful. Don't delete it just in case you might need it someday.

Backing up your files

There are several ways that you can back up the files in your Home direcory:

  1. Drag-and-drop or copy-paste your entire Home folder to network, cloud, or external storage
  2. Pick and choose individual folders and files within your Home directory to drag-and-drop or copy-paste network, cloud, or external storage

Restoring your files

To restore your files to a new HP EliteBook, reverse the process you used to back them up:

  1. Drag-and-drop or copy-paste your entire Home folder from network, cloud, or external storage to the same locations on your new EliteBook
  2. Drag-and-drop or copy-paste individual folders and files from network, cloud, or external storage to the same locations your new EliteBook

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