// Apologies if I explain this poorly, and that it's going to be a little alphabet-soup-y with folder names and file system information! //
Last time I backed up my Adobe files to transfer from one computer to another, I was able to find most of my customized settings - actions, brushes, etc - and move them over. (Most things are kept in the Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop #\Presets folder, or wherever else you may have installed them to.)
The one thing I *DIDN'T* get, however, was all the custom color swatches I'd added myself onto the palette, or my actions. This seemed odd to me, since I was pretty sure I'd saved a custom palette, and obviously, could see the actions listed.
...now that I'm doing another back-up, I just learned why, and thought I'd share in case the process in case it's helpful to anyone else! (I'm using CS6, but the help I found online was regarding CS3, and I think I was on CS2 when I first encountered this.)
Photoshop DOES NOT SAVE YOUR CUSTOM ACTION SETS as files to the harddrive! Even if you've made the Action, and it shows up in the list of Actions in Photoshop every time you open it - it's only saved to this strange temporary preferences file, which won't copy over with the rest.
The remedy for this is to manually save them, by finding the spot in the drop-down Actions menu where it says "Save Actions..". Do this in the Palette's menu when you've got a palette loaded with custom swatches, too - this will let you save to a real, copy-able file that you can then go and backup!
HOWEVER. By default, it does NOT save to your usual Presets folder. (On Windows 8, at least, that folder may be locked down permissions-wise - so you can't save to the Presets folder while inside Photoshop, but if you go to copy-paste into the Presets folder through your usual Explorer window, you can override it.) It will save to a place I didn't even realize existed lol. On Windows 8 Beta (and I'm guessing regular 8 and 7 as well - a quick Google should tell you where it is on other operating systems):
C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Presets\(whatever preset you're dealing with)
That's where I found both my palette file and my action sets - I'm guessing that will be the case if you've made your own custom shapes, styles, etc, as well. Anything I'd installed from other people is in the usual Program Files...Presets folder, but anything I did myself is turning up in Users..Roaming..Presets.
So. I'm digging everything out and copying over to Presets, then backing that sucker up. Because even though upgrading from Windows 8 Beta to Windows 8 should NOT go wrong...me and Windows installations don't have a very good track record. :x And I feel safer anyway knowing all the time I've spent customizing things won't be wiped out!