How to backup the Start menu settings on Windows 10

The new Start menu on Windows 10 is more useful and customizable than ever before. You have a new rail on the left to access settings and other locations. In the middle, you have a quick access to the list with all your installed apps, and on the right, you have your Live Tiles constantly showing updates to keep your informed.

Everything you see and customize in the Start menu is stored in a database inside the TileDataLayer folder. The only problem is that when you least expect it, the database can get damaged causing the menu not to work properly. To resolve any issues, or you want to move your settings to a fresh installation or new PC, it's possible to backup and restore the Start menu database with all your preferences on Windows 10.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to create a backup of your Start menu settings, and the steps to restore it.

How to enable the built-in Administrator account

You can't properly make a backup of your Start menu settings when you're signed in to your account. This means that you'll have to use another account or temporarily enable the built-in Administrator account on Windows 10.

To enable the built-in Administrator account, do the following:

  1. Use the Windows key + X keyboard shortcut to open the power user menu and select Computer Management.
  2. Expand Local Users and Groups.
  3. Select Users.
  4. Double-click the Administrator account.
  5. Clear the Account is disabled option to enable the account.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK.

You can also create a new admin account, but temporarily enabling the Administrator account is a bit quicker.

How to backup the Start menu settings

To make a backup of your current Start menu settings, do the following:

  1. Sign-out of your Windows 10 account.
  2. Sign-in using another account or the built-in Administrator account.
  3. Open File Explorer.
  4. Click on the View tab.
  5. Check the Hidden items option to show hidden files.

  1. Navigate the following path:C:\Users\YOUR-ACCOUNT-NAME\AppData\Local\TileDataLayerIn the path, replace YOUR-ACCOUNT-NAME in the path with the name of the user account with the Start menu settings you want to backup.
  2. Right-click the Database folder that contains all your settings and select Copy.

  1. Open the folder location you want to save the database.
  2. Right-click and select Paste.

How to restore the Start menu settings

If you don't have another administrator account setup on your computer, remember to use the above steps to temporarily re-enable the built-in Administrator account on Windows 10.

To restore your Start menu settings, do the following:

  1. Sign-out of your account.
  2. Sign-in using another account or the built-in Administrator account.
  3. Open File Explorer.
  4. Click on the View tab.
  5. Check the Hidden items option to show hidden files.

  1. Navigate the following path:C:\Users\YOUR-ACCOUNT-NAME\AppData\Local\TileDataLayerIn the path, replace YOUR-ACCOUNT-NAME in the path with the name of the user account with the Start menu settings you want to backup.
  2. Right-click the Database folder that contains all the Start menu settings and select Rename.
  3. Rename the folder Database.bak and press Enter.

  1. Open the folder location where you have stored the backup files.
  2. Right-click the Database folder and click Copy.
  3. Go back to the TileDataLayer folder for your account as noted on step 6.
  4. Right-click and select Paste to restore the settings.

  1. Sign-out of the account.

After you completed the steps, sign back into your account, and now the Start menu should be restored with all your customization preferences.

Deleting old database and disabling built-in account

The last thing left to do is to delete the Database.bak folder and disable the built-in Administrator account (if applicable).

To delete the old database, do the following:

  1. Use the Windows key + R keyboard shortcut to open the Run command.
  2. Type the following command to open the TileDataLayer folder and press Enter:%HOMEPATH%\AppData\Local\TileDataLayer
  3. Right-click the Database.bak folder and select Delete.

To disable the built-in Administrator account on Windows 10, do the following:

  1. Use the Windows key + X to open the power user menu and select Computer Management.
  2. Expand Local Users and Groups.
  3. Select Users.
  4. Double-click the Administrator account.
  5. Check the Account is disabled option to disable the built-in account.

  1. Click Apply.
  2. Click OK.

Wrapping things up

While you can always reset and re-configure your Start menu, these steps give you an alternative way to keep your Start menu preferences on a new installation, new computer, or when the database gets damaged on your account.

Remember that a full backup only restores the settings until the time you created the backup. If you made any new changes, you'd need to create a fresh backup to include the new preferences.

More Windows 10 resources

For more help articles, coverage, and answers on Windows 10, you can visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

34 Comments
  • I should sincerely hope that one wouldn't need to create or temporarily activate an administrative account. That would mean that one is using admin as their normal account. Not. Good. At all.
  • So people have no business using admin privileges, even on their own PC.=P But you do have a point.
  • You really need to try to keep up, this is an old tip.........
  • You really need to stop b!tching about them trying to help others. If you have no use for the article/tutorial, simply don't click on it...seriously, it's that easy. I for one had no idea backing up the start screen layout was possible. I've just been taking screenshots of my entire startscreen for that purpose. Now with this, I can save even more time in the future if I ever need to re-configure Windows for whatever reason, be it moving to a new PC, or just to start fresh after several dirty OS upgrades...
  • I was doing the same. Didn't know about this. A very useful article for some.
  • Exactly, this would help a few if not many. I was not aware of this just as well as the others...
  • As was I.
  • This is useful but MS should provide an easy way to do this as part of the sync settings.
    * runs off to Feedback hub to suggest it *
  • post the URL to the entry so we can upvote it!
  • Well we used to able to sync Start layout back on Windows 8.X., even W10M have this feature still exist (crossing my fingers not they will remove this). Its just rather sad that they resort of removing it completely instead of improving it or leaving it there until better implementation is ready. If I remember correctly many were suggesting back on Feedback Hub, idk how many votes though or how many Insiders people actually care or aware. Many seem forgot about it that even this article didn't even mentioned that we used to have it on Windows 8.1.
  • 8.1 did just that
  • You can also use PowerShell to effort/import Start menu (and Taskbar) layouts. If in enterprise you can also use Group Policy to enjoyed those layouts which used can add to. A few options here but MS should really make this easier for regular folk...
  • yea because we are in 2000 and we have to go through all this pain just to save start settings...ms should their head out of their ass. seriously. every piece of settings that are migrated to the uwp settings app should be backed up, and should be synced too if the setting has a mobile/xbox/hololens counterpart even better, we should have a detailed setting page for what is syncer so we could prevent from syncing a specific setting.
  • Exactly! There should be an option in Settings > Update & Security > Backup to back-up the entire user settings configured in the Settings app. Better yet, allow backing up app settings too. I voted for a feedback regarding that here: https://aka.ms/Snhs02
  • This should be standard part of backup like on mobile
  • This procedure is way too complicated for the average user. MS seriously needs to come up with a much simpler way to help users sync their Start settings. They did it for Edge, so I don't understand why they didn't do it for the Start Menu. Apple backs up everything to the cloud automatically, so when I bought my new iPad I just signed in to my account and everything just synced to the new device flawlessly. When I recently bought a new SP4, only my Edge settings synced to the new device after signing in to my MS account. The Start Menu did not sync and I had to configure it manually. What a pain in the... !!!
  • There really should be a simple GUI in the settings app for backing up the Start Screen layout. Such fundamental stuff shouldn't require messing around with commands/terminals/etc, this isn't Linux...
  • ... or better, what about an option to sync the Start menu settings and live tiles layout across other Windows 10 devices under the same account?
  • Yeah, Windows 8.1 had it and they refuse to implement it on Windows 10 and just gave us an excuse that it wasn't used much and other excuses which wasn't really a problem. Its time for this to be brought up again on Feedback Hub, hopefully Insider people will even care. I wish we don't really need to ask something we used to have and used to work, instead focusing on something entirely new. Sadly, there are things needs to be brought up that even some basic features still have yet to exist.
  • Sadly, we've had to do this since the beginning. You know things ain't gonna be pretty nor successful when we have to beg features that were already there or to implement ones that are standard elsewhere and are the norm nowdays...
  • That's nice and all, but the fact that is what is needed to back it up is absolutely ridiculous.
  • I thought using Microsoft Account could do this, I mean to sync all your preferences (settings, bookmarks, start layout etc). Hmmm go