Common File Locations for both Mac and Windows Users
This is a list of the locations and file paths for the most common places you would find personal information. It is recommended that you back up your personal information on a regular basis. How to Backup Data
Note: These are the default save locations for these files, but that doesn't mean they will always be there if you have changed that location. Keep in mind where you are saving your data if you make alternate folders so you can recall back to them when necessary.
How much space do I need for a backup?
Prior to performing a backup of a computer or its folders you will want to make sure you have sufficient storage on your backup device, use the methods below to determine roughly how much you will need available.
Windows: Right-click on the desired file or folder and select "Properties". The amount of information will be displayed under "Size".
macOS: To see the size of a specific file or folder, click it once and then press Command-I. To see storage information about your Mac, click the Apple menu in the top-left of your screen. Choose About This Mac and click the Storage tab. For Time Machine backups, it's good to use a drive that has at least twice the storage capacity of your Mac.
General User Data/ Personal Data
General user data is anything that you have put on the computer, including desktop icons, pictures, downloads, documents, music, movies, etc. This is commonly referred to as personal data. If you backup the file locations below, you will backup your personal data. Note that university-owned computers generally redirect user data to central servers rather than load it on individual computers).
Windows: Open "File Explorer" (folder icon on the task bar). Click "This PC" on the left, double click on the C: Drive. Here there will be folder entitled "Users". You can save all the users as a whole. Or, open this folder to find each individual user on the computer.
macOS: It is highly recommended that you use the app Time Machine on your Mac to backup your entire computer. This ensure that your programs, passwords, photos, documents, music, movies, and desktop are all backed up properly.
Word Processor and Office Documents
Windows: Follow the General User Data instructions above. Once there, click on your desired user and then click "Documents".
macOS: Documents can be found in Finder > Go > Documents. These can then be dragged and dropped onto the back up device of your choice.
Windows: Follow the General User Data instructions above. Under the desired user folder, click on "Music." There should be a folder entitled "Itunes Library".
macOS: Follow the General User Data instructions above. Under the desired user folder, click on "Music." You will be backing up the folder "iTunes".
Windows and macOS: Microsoft has instructions on how to backup your Outlook contacts: Outlook Contacts Backup
Applications such as mail clients and purchased third party software commonly do not save their files in your user accounts. It is important to reference these programs' specific guides for their default save locations. If using Time Machine on a Mac, all application data will be saved.
A common reason to back up information is to free up much needed space on your hard drive for other applications and programs. If this is the case, ensure that you have properly backed up the information and right click and "Delete" the contents of these locations. Ensure that you go to your recycle bin and select "Empty Recycle Bin". Keep in mind that if you do not empty this bin, all of that data will still be utilizing space on your hard drive.