ExSB Online Help (Q&A)

What is ExSB?

Easexp Settings Backup (ExSB) is a tool to back up, restore and sync Windows system settings such as date time, formats, wallpaper, colors, taskbar, group policy, firewall rules, disabled services, tasks, events...and the settings of popular programs such as Office, Firefox, Edge, Chrome etc.

ExSB is not designed for backing up common files, although it's able to. You can consider ExSB to be like the Windows Sync, only it's a real backup tool that can save those settings in files or folders, and restore them to system at any time you want.

See ExSB home page for more information.

Can I sync system settings from Windows 7 to 10?

Yes, and this is one of the key features of ExSB.

More information.

Do I need to run ExSB as admin?

Backing up settings from system normally doesn't need administrator privileges, even for those system-wide settings. Only a few special setting items require ExSB to be run as admin to correctly gather settings for backup, such as Windows\Disabled Events, Windows\Disabled Tasks.

When restoring settings, system-wide settings surely need ExSB to be run as admin. Per user settings e.g. Wallpaper & Colors doesn't.

Some setting items, for example Windows\File Explorer, contain both per user and system wide settings, so that they also require admin privileges for restoring.

ExSB will check if it needs to be run as admin before starting to backup or restore, and will prompt you to confirm if you want it to re-launch itself as admin.

Note: after re-launched, ExSB does not resume the previous step for backup, nor it keeps the loaded data for restore. You will need to start backup or load backup data again. However, ExSB will keep last selection states of setting items for backup, so you can simply click "Start Backup" to continue.

Backup when I choose no: if you enabled this check box then chose "No" to deny the re-launch request, it forces ExSB to perform backing up or restoring in limited environment, instead of canceling the operation. However, it normally will fail due to lack of enough permissions.

Reload shell vs. Restart computer.

After ExSB restored settings from a backup, it may ask your confirmation to restart computer or reload shell, so that the restored settings can actually apply to the system.

Reloading shell is to force terminating Windows Explorer and then starting it again. Some settings only need this to take effect, instead of a full restart.

Reloading shell can save time as it is much quicker than restarting system. But, it's not designed for only that purpose. Some Specific settings can only be restored by reloading shell, e.g. Windows\Taskbar. Windows Explorer saves taskbar position when it is closed normally (restart, turn off, log off), thus the restored settings will be overwritten by it. In order to apply the restored taskbar location, ExSB must force Windows Explorer to be terminated and reloaded as soon as possible.

So, restart request can be delayed, but reloading shell request normally shouldn't.

What are Desktop/Documents - Location and why use them?

In Windows system, the target location of some special user folders can be changed. For example, you can place Documents folder to be on a non-system disk like "D:\Documents", so that your data in it won't be lost due to system failures, and after you rebuilt or reset your system, you can simply change Documents folder to it again, all your data will be there.

It's OK to not back up those special folders if they are on non-system disks, as rebuilding system won't destroy them. However, important data should always be backed up to even multiple safe places.

As a *settings backup* tool, ExSB can backup only the target location setting of the special folders, without actual files. Then it can restore the target location settings back to a rebuilt or reset system, so that you don't have to change them manually.

What's the difference between Windows, Windows 10 and Windows 7?

There are 3 categories (sections) for Windows system settings in the tree view of ExSB: Windows, Windows 7 and Windows 10. Why don't just put them together as a single "Windows" and What's the difference between them?

Simple. All setting items under category Windows, are OS version independent. You can backup those settings from Windows 7, then restore them to Windows 10. You even can backup them from Windows 10 and restore to Windows 7.

On the other hand, taking Windows 7 as an example, setting items under Windows 7 can only be backed up from and restored to Windows 7, because those settings do not exist in Windows 10.

Not only those setting items under Windows can be synchronized between different OS versions, they also can automatically adjust themselves to fit the target system. For examples:

What's User Defined items?

ExSB is not designed for backing up common files, but that doesn't mean it cannot work as a common backup tool.

You can configure the user defined items to let ExSB back up files, folders like a common backup tool. You can even add registry entries to user defined items to be backed up.

To configure user defined items, click "User Defined" in Tools page. The User Defined window lists all the user defined entries you have added to ExSB. You can add new entries, modify or remove existing entries.

A user defined item (entry) is a path to the target file, folder or registry key, with a regular expression filter, and several additional options.

How does ExSB decide where to save the backup?

ExSB uses the root backup folder to decide where to save new backups, and uses default backup format to decide the format of backups (zip or direct folder). Those settings are in current profile.

You normally don't need to change it. But if you want, you can always specify a different backup name and/or format.

What backup formats does ExSB support?

ExSB can backup settings to a folder directly, or to a zip file. The former is called "direct folder".

If you let ExSB backup settings to zip files, the compression level is decided by current configuration of ExSB, which can be changed in Settings window. It's recommended to use the default compression level (1), as higher levels will slow down the backup progress.

What is backup format direct folder?

As its name declared, "direct folder" is simply a folder with all the data. Files are copied directly into it; registry entries are saved as .reg files in it; and there also are additional special data files such as INFO.ini to be used by ExSB.

Direct folders are safer than zip files, because all files are in their original format. If you want, you can always compress the folder to be a zip, rar or 7z file. ExSB provides the feature post backup which allows you to use a script to compress the folder automatically when a backup operation finished.

When you click "Browse" to choose a direct folder in ExSB, you actually are choosing the file INFO.ini in its root location. This way, we can use a single "Open File" dialog box for both zip and direct folder formats.

Can ExSB back up huge files?

It's obvious that "direct folder" has no size limit, as long as the target disk has enough free space.

The zip files, on the other hand, ExSB uses basic zip format which cannot be larger than 4 GB. Since ExSB is designed for backing up settings instead of common files, 4 GB normally is more than enough. If you really want to backup huge size files, I would recommend to copy them directly or use another backup tool that supports huge files and provides better compression ratio.

Actually, file achievers with compression such as 7-Zip are good choices for backing up huge files.

Post backup script.

ExSB can run a .cmd script to perform additional tasks after a backup operation is done, when it finds the special file in its postrun folder (postrun\postbackup.cmd).

There is a file _postbackup.cmd in postrun folder of ExSB, you can rename it to postbackup.cmd by removing the prefix '_' to use it as post backup script, or manually create the postbackup.cmd.

ExSB automatically does the following when it launches the script:

ExSB runs the script and waits until it was finished (the command prompt window closed). Script will be run no matter backup has succeeded or failed, so it's possible to use script to remove "junk" files when backup failed. However, ExSB won't check the result of script, because it has done its part, result of script doesn't matter to ExSB.

Example - Compress backup folder to .7z file:

@echo off
IF %ExSB_Success% == 1 IF %ExSB_DataIsFolder% == 1 (
	"X:\Path\to\7-Zip\7z.exe" a "%ExSB_DataParent%\%ExSB_DataName%.7z" "%ExSB_DataPath%"

Example - Clean up target if backup failed:

@echo off
IF NOT %ExSB_Success% == 1 (
	IF %ExSB_DataIsFolder% == 1 (
		rmdir /Q /S %ExSB_DataPath%
	) ELSE (
		del /Q %ExSB_DataPath%

ExSB also supports to run post script after a restore operation (postrun\postrestore.cmd). But clearly it's not as useful as post backup script.

Why bother to backup disable services and tasks?

Your Windows system is slow, taking too many CPU times and memory even you leave it to do nothing? That's because there are too many unnecessary services and tasks running in the background.

For example, the first thing to do after I rebuilt my system, is to disable the services "SysMain" and "Windows Search", otherwise they will keep accessing the hard disks.

There are many services and tasks should be disabled, to make Windows running smoother. But that's not the subject here.

The two setting items can backup disabled settings of those services and tasks. You then can restore them to a new system, without the need of disabling them manually again.

Disabled Tasks is a special item. Although it can perform backup if you don't run ExSB as admin, the total number of tasks it can discover, is less than when ExSB is launched as admin. So, "Run as admin" is important to discover as many disabled tasks as possible for backup.

Disabled Events?

Windows system generates many unnecessary, annoying error/warning events that, said by Microsoft "not real errors, can be ignored." But how can we ignore them if they keep showing themselves in the event viewer?

Disabling those events is not as good as fixing them (by Microsoft of course, because it's not our fault, a brand-new built system can still show them), but for those of us who have the habit to look into event viewer, it's a way to move on.

ExSB can backup and restore the settings of those disabled events, so that you don't need to disable them again one by one after system rebuilt or reset.

ExSB also will back up the disabled "event sources" for Application, System etc., which have to be manually disabled with registry editor. If you don't know what "event sources" are, just ignore this paragraph.

Does ExSB support command line switches? Can I use it in scheduled task?

ExSB can perform backup (and only backup) in command line mode. Full syntax:

ExSB.exe -profile [pathProfile] [-postrun pathPostBackup] [-hide] [-savelog]

ExSB does not support restoring in command line mode. You must restore settings in its normal mode.

Users are not allowed to specify the target location of backup, nor the backup format. The backup file location, name and format are decided automatically by ExSB, basing on the configuration in current profile (root backup folder, default backup format), and current date etc.


  1. ExSB -profile
    The simplest command line to perform backup with current configuration in default profile.
  2. ExSB -profile D:\myprofile.ini -hide
    Perform backup with configuration in D:\myprofile.ini, and don't show progress UI.
  3. ExSB -profile -postrun D:\myscript.cmd -savelog
    Perform backup with default configuration, save log to temporary file, and run the script D:\myscript.cmd after backup done (succeeded or failed).
  4. ExSB -profile -postrun
    Perform backup with default configuration, and don't run any post backup script.

You can create a scheduled task with command line mode as Action -> Start a program, to let ExSB back up settings automatically. You also can create a shortcut with those parameters to use command line mode directly.

Note command line mode won't check if it needs admin privileges, nor will it ask you to re-launch it as admin. It will fail directly if doesn't have enough permission. For scheduled task, the task can be configured to start a program as admin. For shortcut, the shortcut can be configured to run as admin by enabling option "run this program as administrator" in Compatibility page.

So what are profiles?

A profile is an ini file that saves configuration of ExSB, such as root backup folder, default backup format, compression level, the selected and hidden setting items etc.

ExSB uses the default profile "config\default.ini" in normal mode. If you change configuration in ExSB, changes are saved to that default profile. You can export configuration to another profile in "Settings" window (Tools -> Settings). You also can import configuration from saved profiles to the default profile.

Exporting profiles is useful for backing up your configuration of ExSB. It's also a way to use specific profiles instead of the default one in command line mode.

By default, when you export, import or reset configuration, the selection states of setting items are ignored. If you want to export, import or reset them too, don't forget to choose "Include items' selection and hidden states."

When using ExSB's command line mode with a non-default profile, having or having not selection states of setting items in the profile, affects how ExSB works: If there is no selection states, ExSB will try to backup all setting items that by default should be selected (all items that are not disabled, and not marked as "recommend not backup").

Why are some setting items disabled?

A setting item is disabled, if one of the following is true:

Why are some setting items unselected by default?

When the first time you run ExSB, or when you right-click in tree view in Backup page and choose "Reset Selections", ExSB will set all setting items to their default selection states.

Some items are unselected by default. If you click on it, you will find a line of string "Recommend not backup" in the right panel. What does that mean?

ExSB considers data on non-system disks will not be destroyed by a system reset, and it's unnecessary to backup them. So, ExSB sets them to be unselected by default.

You can always select them manually to force ExSB to backup them.

Failed to restore application settings?

Unlike Windows system settings (including categories Windows, Windows 7 and Windows 10), many application settings involve data files, such as profiles of Firefox, and .pst files of Office Outlook.

Those files are not always on system disk. For example, you may have set your Firefox profile to be "E:\FirefoxProfile". This is actually recommended, as doing so can reduce the chance of losing data due to system failures.

Problem is, if you are synchronizing settings across systems, there is no guarantee that the target system also has disk E: thus the E:\FirefoxProfile obviously cannot be created.

ExSB will not alter path of files/folders for application settings when it performs restoring. It always restores the files and folders to their original locations. Because of disk E: doesn't exist so it will fail with creating the folder E:\FirefoxProfile.

To avoid this kind of problems, either make sure that the target disk exists, or restore the folder manually by copying it from backup to the new location you want it to be (you may need to modify other data such as registry entries, to alter path info manually). Of course you also can choose to not backup it, as data on non-system disk normally doesn't need to be backed up.