backing up \users on crashed system

I have a system that refuses to boot to Windows 10, and I think I need to do a reinstall.
The advanced boot options is available, but it will not go into safe mode. I can however get the command line, and it recognizes both robocopy and xcopy.
Assume that C is the hard drive, and D is an external portable USB backup drive.
I've had bad luck doing "xcopy C:\users d:\backup\users /e /c /k /z" or "robocopy c:\users d:\backup\users /e /z /copyall /DCopy:DAT" due to the stuff in various \appdata subdirectories not wanting to copy.  This has been the case since Windows XP. Heck, I haven't even tried with Windows 10 (so if it's changed since 8 I wouldn't know).

I'm having a brain fart, I know they taught me back in college (back when XP was new) a trick for this situation, but I'm pretty sure we tossed all my notes last  year when I was helping mom clean up her basement on the principal that "if you haven't used them in 20 years, you're not going to use them".

Searching online, I keep finding 3rd party solutions, but the system is broken and I'm using the emergency command line tools before I do a complete reinstall. How do I save their data (because of course the user hasn't backed up anything.)

Sorry, helping family and I just can't recall the correct way to back up everything. Too spoiled by good backup software.
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Hi SlickRCBD,

Good day! This is Jhakesong an Independent Advisor and I will be happy to assist you with this.

Give this method of backing up a try using notepad within safe mode with command prompt and see if it works for you.

https://appuals.com/how-to-backup-files-from-co...

Let me know how it goes. Have a great day!

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Give this method of backing up a try using notepad within safe mode with command prompt and see if it works for you.

https://appuals.com/how-to-backup-files-from-co...

Let me know how it goes. Have a great day!

Please review the second sentence of my post for why I said this is not helpful.

The advanced boot options is available, but it will not go into safe mode. I can however get the command line, and it recognizes both robocopy and xcopy.

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Hi SlickRCBD,

Thanks for getting back. Were you able to try launching notepad from the command line where you made robocopy and xcopy work?

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I didn't even think of that, I didn't think there was enough Windows loaded to do so, but again, I didn't even think of it. I was thinking of the recovery console from Windows XP, which was basically a limited MS-DOS and that definitely would not have worked. If Windows 10 has more options, I was unaware of it. I haven't experimented much with the recovery console equivalent of later versions of Windows since XP/2000 Advanced Server (not that I ever got to play with any version of 2000 server outside the school computer labs. By the time I found out about Dreamspark they were offering Server 2003)

I tried the command robocopy c:\users d:\users /e /z /copyall /DCOPY:DAT /r:3 /w:5

and it's been going for 25 hours. That doesn't sound right to copy 1tb of data at USB 2.0 speeds, let alone USB 3.0 (gen1).

Maybe something is wrong, it keeps showing the paths C:\users\all users\application data\application data\application data\application data\ (can't count how many iterations of application data in the "path", as it scrolls off screen before I can finish counting )\documents\phonebackup\folder\file

As I helped set that up, I know there is a ton (about 5gb) of downloaded fanfics and another 10gb of mp3s.

The part about the tons of \application data\application data\ makes me wonder if something is glitching. I'm trying to backup a 1.5tb hard drive on to a 2tb USB portable drive and that 1.5tb drive only has 8gb free.

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Please don't tell me I don't want to do something without also providing the information requested.

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go to command prompt and type below line

md D:\Scratch

Dism.exe /Capture-Image /ImageFile:D:\Users.wim /CaptureDir:C:\Users /Name:Users /Description:Windows10 /scratchdir:D:\Scratch /compress:fast /CheckIntegrity

all copied files and folders stored in a single file named "Users.wim". You should 7-zip software to extract the file to see contents.

I am a regular CONTRIBUTOR on docs.micrsosoft.com.
Asus Laptop R542UQ-DM153-Intel_i5-7200u_Nvidia_940mx_2GBvram-16GBram-2TBHDD_2TBHDD_1TB_M.2SSD_Windows10_Ent_21H1_64bit_19043.1023

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Hi SlickRCBD,

Thanks for the update. I did tried launching notepad from command prompt and it did work. Within notepad I was able to get to explorer where I can copy files. As to the amount of time how the backup is going from your end, I agree it should not take that long. Let me release the question so as another Expert can pick up and provide fresh ideas to the issue. Thank you so much for your patience.

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Does anybody have any comments on my choice of parameters to use robocopy to copy the entire c:\users folder tree?

Should I have used a different set of parms?

Should I have used good old XCOPY?

I've noticed with XP, Vista, and 7 that XCOPY and robocopy also has a hard time with \documents and settings\ or \users\ taking much longer than expected, but that was on functioning systems. I figured whatever was causing problems would not be booted in the recovery console (or whatever you call this command line now). I assumed wrong.

Which also leads to my question of the best way to back up that folder from the console like this.

Anyways, I'm going to give the computer until tomorrow to finish the backup before proceeding. Not the least of which because it's late at night and I'm going to bed soon.

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OK, I'm having trouble with the backup, and here's the problem. 

I'm stuck in some kind of loop in \all users\application data

I tried changing it to "robocopy c:\users\slick..." the most vital user account to back up, but I ran into the same problem when it got to 

\slick\application data\

There must be some junctions or links that are creating an infinite loop.

I used the command

robocopy c:\users d:\users /e /copyall /z /DCopy:DAT /R:3 /W:5

What should I do instead? What is the easiest way from this emergency command prompt to back up all the users stuff? I have a lot spread across 2 standard users, an admin, and the public folder, so I'd want to set the computer to copying and leave it overnight, not type a command for each folder I want to back up.

If I have to exclude the all users folder from each user, or back up each individual folder one by one to get the documents, movies, pictures, and music plus anything else in the root, I'm better off using "copy con backup.bat"   to make a batch file. Although I'd rather use Edit.

Even Edline is more forgiving of mistakes, much as I found Edit to be an improvement.

While waiting for a reply I'm trying the "depreciated" xcopy. XCopy has served me since MS-DOS 3.30.

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Last updated June 13, 2021 Views 35 Applies to: