How to back up and restore your Windows 8 Start screen layout

If you've taken the time to carefully customize your Windows 8 Start screen layout, backing it up might be a good idea.

Windows 8.1 Start screen
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

The Windows 8 Start screen is the gateway to your PC and usually the first thing you see when you log in, unless you've chosen to go directly to the desktop. The update to Windows 8.1 also introduced many more customization options to the Start screen.

Whether you use the Start screen only on occasion or rely on it heavily, you've probably spent some time setting it up just the way you like it. To save you from having to go through it again when you reinstall Windows or if your Start screen gets rearranged accidentally, you can back up your layout and restore it later. Here's how:

Step 1: Open the Run dialog box by hitting Windows key + R.

Step 2: Type, "%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows" and hit Enter to open Windows Explorer to the location of the Start screen layout files.

Open Windows Explorer
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

Step 3: Copy the files, "appsFolder.itemdata-ms" and "appsfolder.itemdata-ms.bak" to your backup folder.

If something happens to your Start screen layout and you want to restore it, just copy the backup files back to the original location and overwrite the files already in the folder.

That's it. Now if your nephew or a friend comes over and they rearrange your Windows 8 Start screen, you can relax and restore it in just a few minutes.

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