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How to Backup and Restore Stored User Names and Passwords in Windows Vista

written by: Karishma Sundaram•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 5/5/2010

Windows Vista has a function that allows users to backup their login credentials and passwords in a secure location. The backup file is password protected using AES, and can be stored in a remote location to avoid loss in the event of a hardware or software crash.

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    Any user that uses the Internet or even their own computer system to the fullest possibility extent will probably generate a long list of usernames and passwords. Remembering each and every single one becomes extremely tedious, so many people pick easy passwords and security phrases. This practice defeats the very purpose of having a password and a secure login. Passwords are meant to be difficult to crack to protect data. So the best option is have them written down or stored in a safe location.

    Many people choose to allow their systems to remember their login details and passwords to make life slightly easier. However, this is not a sensible course of action if the system is shared or easily accessible to a number of people. Windows Vista takes away some of that worry by allowing a user to store certain credentials within their user profiles. However, this practice is also prone to failure from time to time, as unforeseen circumstances and events cannot be disregarded. Invariably if a user has saved their passwords, it is highly unlikely that they will remember those passwords in case of loss. It is then of paramount importance to back up stored usernames and passwords in the event of a system failure.

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    Under the Control Panel menu, there is an icon for User Accounts. Double clicking on this icon will open a window detailing all the user accounts on the computer. On the left hand side of the window, there is a task list of options available to the user. One of them, Manage your network passwords, is the option for saving user credentials and passwords.


    A small pane will display all the credentials that the user has saved on their system. If there are no credentials, the Backup button on the bottom is gray and inaccessible. A user can Add or Edit credentials as per their preferences, and then click the Backup option to save them. The backup process then commences

    and the user is prompted to enter a password, since the backup itself uses high-level encryption to maximise security. The user also needs to specify a location where the backup files need to be saved. It is good practice to save the file on removable media, thereby ensuring that regardless of whether the system crashes, the authentication information remains intact.

    03 The backup created can then later be restored through the Restore button, visible on the same pane. The restore function resets all the passwords to the ones that were saved during backup.

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    Backing up and restoring user passwords and login credentials also comes in handy when transferring personal information from one system to another. In this way, it is possible to avoid having to completely personalize the second system all over again. Although all the settings cannot be replicated that easily, it can lighten the workload considerably.