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important folders

Have you ever saved a document, a photo, or downloaded a file from a website and did not know where on your hard drive it was actually saved? Or, have you ever wanted to back up your important files, but have no idea where your important folders are located? 

Here are a few common folder locations that a Windows system stashes your saved files. For backup purposes, just follow the folder paths shown to locate the particular folder within your hard drive - starting from your C: drive icon.

Note: Wherever you encounter the term "[username]" within the folder paths shown below, replace that with your Windows login username.

DOCUMENTS
This is the location that most programs point to when you hit that Save option. Looks here first for your documents, spreadsheets, PDF files, etc.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Documents

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents


DESKTOP
The files and folders you see on your desktop screen is simply a reflection of a special "desktop" folder in your hard drive. Any changes done within this special desktop folder reflects onto your desktop screen, and vice versa.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Desktop

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Desktop


PICTURES
When you connect your digital camera or its memory card into your system, the software that manages the photo transfers typically dumps all your pics in your pictures folder. Note that some digital camera software (eg. Kodak) tries to be special and throws your photos in a shared folder.

NOTE: I recommend NOT using the cable-connect method to transfer photos from your digital camera. Click here to read why.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Pictures

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\My Pictures


MUSIC
When you download songs via iTunes or rip songs from a CD, your system typically stores the files inside your music folder. In order to back up or transfer all your tunes to another computer, start the copy and paste process from this location.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Music

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\My Music


FAVORITES
If you use Internet Explorer to browse the web the favorites folder on your hard drive is where you can access those individual website shortcuts. From there you can copy and paste them for back up and transfer purposes.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Favorites

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\Favorites


DOWNLOADS
When you download a file from a website using your Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.), the Downloads folder is usually the folder your computer offers as the Save location.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\Downloads

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\My Documents\Downloads


OUTLOOK
The Outlook data files constitute all accumulated email messages and folders, contacts, calendar events, and tasks. Your Outlook data are buried deeper in your hard drive compared to other saved files. 

Note: Due to the nature of how Outlook reads and writes data to these files, be sure you have the Outlook program closed before trying to copy/paste the data. No, your system will not explode... you'll just get a message saying the data file you're trying to copy is locked (until you exit Outlook).

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook


WINDOWS MAIL
Windows Vista, Windows 7 and newer PC's no longer support Outlook Express. Instead these systems either come with Windows Mail installed or you need to download the free "Windows Live Essentials" from Microsoft's website. You can also install Windows Mail on a Windows XP system. Below are the folders where all the email and email folders are stored. Note: this does not include your email contacts/address book.

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail


KODAK EASYSHARE
Majority of all camera file transfer programs transfer photos/videos into your Pictures or Videos folder. Kodok Easyshare on the otherhand tries to be slick and transfers them to the Pictures folder within the "All Users" or "Public" Windows account. Look for the photos in the following locations:

In Windows Vista and newer PCs:
C:\Users\Public\Pictures
C:\Users\Public\Videos

In Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\My Documents\My Pictures

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