Backing up and restoring Dreamweaver site definitions

We often hear from people: “I’m on a new computer. How do I get all of my Dreamweaver sites over to the new computer as well?”

Variations on this theme include: “My computer got wiped out; how can I get my sites back?” as well as “I had to reinstall Dreamweaver and lost all of my sites. How can a restore them?”

The answer to all of these questions is that you must import Dreamweaver site definitions (information that is kept in an .ste file) in order to restore a previous site. As Adobe Community Expert David Powers says, “Losing your site definitions in Dreamweaver can be a disaster, but it does happen sometimes. The best way to prepare for such an eventuality is to back up your site definitions on a regular basis.”

Create backups of your site definitions

You can back up all of your site definitions in a single operation:

  1. In Dreamweaver, choose Site > Manage Sites.
  2. In the Manage Sites dialog box, Shift-click to select all site names.
  3. Click Export.
  4. Dreamweaver asks if you want to include passwords and login details (this is the default option). Whichever option you choose will be applied to all sites, so if you want to export passwords/login details for some sites and not others, click Cancel and then export your sites in two sets by using Ctrl/Cmd-click to select them.
  5. Click OK.
    Dreamweaver asks where you’d like to save the exported site definitions. Navigate to a suitable location, leave the File name field unchanged, and click Save. Although only one site name is listed in the File name field, Dreamweaver exports all of the site definitions as .ste files in a single operation.

NOTE: This process backs up only the details of your sites, such as the location of the root folder, FTP details, and so on. It does not back up the actual files in your site, such as .html (or .php, .asp, .cfm) files, images, and style sheets. It’s a good idea to use your normal file backup routine on your actual files from time to time, as well as exporting the site definitions.

Restore site definitions

In the event of losing your site definitions in Dreamweaver or moving to a new computer, open the Manage Sites dialog box (Sites > Manage Sites), and use the Import button to navigate to your backup .ste files.

For more detailed step-by-step instructions you can consult the Import site settings documentation in Dreamweaver Help.

Thanks to David Powers, who posted the original version of this topic on the Adobe Dreamweaver forum.

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  • I use this process and it’s been a life saver. Or should I save business saver.

  • Is there any way of (or plans to develop a way) storing DW site definitions in the cloud so that every time I create a new site on my main system, I then don’t have to recreate it on my laptops?

    This would float my boat considerably!

  • This is very straight forward and worked for some of my sites, but others had trouble sync to the root folder or would only allow transfer of existing files, not uploading entirely new files. can somebody address the fix? I searched many forums with others having the same issue. In particular to the 5.5 upgrade…

  • Important to note in os x 10.7 the ‘user’ library folder is hidden. Quickest way to discover it is to go to the ‘go’ menu in the finder and hold down option – it appears in the list like magic.

  • i used to do it like this –
    reg.exe export “HKCU\Software\Adobe\Common” “D:\Backups\Adobe\dw.reg” /y

    And on the new computer just run the ‘dw.reg’ file.

    Unfortunately it doesnt work on an old pc running an old version of DW (just for CS versions).
    Hope it helps.

  • Grosir Perlengkapan Bayi says:

    finally found this article, and ready to try it, thanks alot

  • Barry Hansen says:

    1. My hard drive crashed. How can I recover my Dreamweaver CS5 site definitions from a backup? I have a disk image but no exported .ste files.

    2. How can I automate exporting .ste files? It would be a flaw if the only way of creating them is interactively and manually. Backups must be automated or people won’t do it.

  • my machine crashed, and i didnt do a backup of my site definitions, pliz how do i go about this?

  • Ditto to what Harry says, except our power went out, and apparently our techs neglected to inform me that our ups backups are all in need of new batteries. Some DW file in Library or Prefs somewhere that I can grab from my Time Machine?

  • Barry Hansen says:

    @Harry – Sadly, I never did find a way to extract site definitions from my backup image of a hard drive. If you find a solution please post it here.
    As far as I know, one must have manually exported the .ste files in Dreamweaver in advance. So I finally recreated all my site definitions by hand using the Dreamweaver menus, one by one, for over a hundred sites.

  • This is helpful, thanks. How do you backup all the html, php etc files?

  • I am trying to convert site definitions from DW cs5.5 on a windows pc to DW cs6 on a Mac. Did exactly as described, but I keep getting the error ‘ this is not a valid site definition file’ on importing. Exporting goes fine and when I open the .ste in a texteditor it looks allright. Any ideas?

  • My problem is that I had upgraded from MX to CS4 on my old PC.
    When I tried to install on the new PC, It asked for the serial number of the old Dreamweaver from which I upgraded, then told me that it was not valid.
    How do I regain the ability to install on the new PC?

  • My computer does not seem to have any file in it that is located by this method. I upgraded to Mac OS X Snow Leopard and it seems to have screwed up several software programs, including making it so that I cannot update my website. Why, oh why, would Dreamweaver have a file that is so important that can so easily get lost? I have never heard of a “site definition file” and I took 2 classes on Dreamweaver. Why wouldn’t the program automatically save this information and make it available? Am I out $500 because Dreamweaver made this critical thing that has to be hand-done early on, but we don’t know about????

  • I am not a pro here but for years had kept our site updated using my Mac and DW. Our webmaster who created the site and taught me how to maintain it disappeared 16 months ago. 🙁 This past Nov we were hacked horribly and Lunar Pages (our server) sold us a protection plan to clean it up and supposedly restore it to pre-hacking status. Then they told me they needed a back up copy of our site. I only had one that was 2 years old and sent it up. They put it live and I downloaded and tried to update the site but I can’t get the pages up onto the server. :-0 My research here tells me I am missing .ste files. I do not have them on my computer’s hard drives. LP says I need to contact you for help. Can you please tell me: 1. Is there anyway to take my site as it is on my tower and get it up onto a server? 2. Is there anyway I can save my website or does it have to be completely rebuilt? I will truly appreciate any help offered.

  • Tom Johnson says:

    I myself have run into a similar problem. I have an agent copy fo DW CS3 on my XP SP3 OS which I would like to uninstall and reinstall on my Win7 64bit OS. When I attempted to deactivate and uninstall the XP copy I get the dreaded “the licensing subsystem has failed catastrophically. . . ” message. This specific problem is another story altogether.!! At any rate as I sat drastically thinking what did I do that would cause this, I noticed that in the background I had the managed sites dialog displayed with all of my wonderful site work being devilishly displayed. Which makes me wonder in relation to this problem, where is this wonderful information kept while I am working away at my next creation?? Here in lies the problem. I presume to cut down on needless *reading and rewriting* of important information such as this, the developers #1) have to have a piece of storage set aside that keeps track of this vital piece of information, where is it read from and #2) once the day is done, they have to successfully save this info before we shutdown our system. This info has to be stored in a .txt, OR .xml file for easy retrieval!! :-(). If someone would be so kind as to share that bit of information with the group, it might delay the GREY HAIR grow that has come upon all of us here.
    Thanks for any help . . .

  • Thanks for the tip! I remember back in the day when you had to use a special utility to back up DW sites which only partially worked. Now if Adobe would just fix the broken FTP engine in DW…

  • Howdy Adobe,
    Im trying to move a bunch of .ste files from my work Mac (Yosemite) to my Surface Pro 3 (on Windows 8.1). I’ve actually moved files from this machine to the other before with no issue. Now when I try to import a site on my Surface in DW, I get the “Not a valid site definition” error. I’ve restarted, and re-installed DW. Both versions of DW are the same. Any suggestions?

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