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Can't get Migwiz to run? Fab's Autobackup to the rescue!

I love Windows XP's file and settings transfer tool. It makes backing up customer data prior to a reformat a painless procedure, and I've never had any problems with the app itself. I've forgotten it doesn't automatically grab .pst files, but that's my own damn fault.

But what can you do when Windows won't boot? Running a repair isn't a great option: the setup could run into trouble, and then you're right back where you started.

Fab's Autobackup is a slick, free utility that I wish I'd come across a long, long time ago. It's available as a PE Builder plugin or as portable application.

The portable version is a nice alternative to FST, and it's intelligent enough to gray out options that you don't need to back up - either because the program in question isn't installed or the user's profile doesn't contain any pertinent application data.

It'll also back up and restore all the files FST does (Application Data, Local Settings, Favorites, My Docs, etc.) as well as your Windows and Office activation files. A nice bonus, since it may well spare you the hassle of dealing with Microsoft's lovely automated telephone activation service. The author's site states the activation restore doesn't work anymore, but it has worked for me on a few occasions.

You're also given the option to select custom locations for certain data, 7zip compression, and TCP/IP parameters.

Now that I've told you what it does, I'll get back to the non-booting install. The PE Builder version supports user profiles located somewhere other than a system drive. Grab Bart's PE Builder and add Autobackup to your Windows Preinstall Environment disc, and you'll be able to easily grab profile data from any Windows install on any functional hard drive.

Long days at the workbench can make a guy forget things (like backing up .pst files), so an app like Autobackup is always welcome in my toolkit.

Tags: backup, freeware, migration, reformat, xp