Just yesterday, one of the managers in my group had the hard drive go belly up on her tablet pc. If she was running Windows Vista, and if she had performed a Complete PC backup, she could have recovered from that catastrophic event in roughly 30-60 minutes (I guessing based on the average amount of data most people have). This is only one isolated instance of bad stuff that can happen. If you don't think it can happen to you, think again.
Many of you have likely used some form of backup and recovery. If not, you are in for a surprise the first time you boot Windows Vista. We'll politely ask you to create a backup. I would heed that advice and do it. Right then. After you've installed your favorite applications and copied personal data, do another backup. Right then. In fact, use Complete PC to do the backup to DVD and you'll now have a personal image of your shiney new Windows Vista installation complete with your personal touch.
So how does Complete PC work?
If you look closely, you'll see Complete PC borrows some ideas from the virtual machine world. We do a physical to virtual state and data capture then write the results to the backup target media or drive in the form of a virtual hard drive. Huh? Yes, we write a bunch of information directly into a virtual hard disk file. It has the .vhd extension and everything.
Can I mount the .vhd with Virtual PC or Virtual Server?
I'm told you can. I haven't tried it yet but may mess around with it a bit this weekend or next week. I owe the Complete PC feature team some testing results so I can add this to the stuff I have planned. Why would we allow this? The only reason I can think of is to allow access to the data through another tool in case you manage to delete par of the backup set, but don't delete the .vhd file. For instance, if you look in the directory that is created by the backup, you'll see a number of catalogs and XML files. What if you manage to screw one of those up so Complete PC can't restore? Well, as a last measure you could mount the .vhd in a VM and gain access. You cannot boot the .vhd with our virtual machine products.
So checkout the screencast demo below and see what you think. If you are used to other imaging products, you'll be very happy with the simplicity of Windows Vista Complete PC. For more information on this and some of the other backup technologies, see https://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/features/foreveryone/backup.mspx and https://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/experiences/backup.mspx.
I was just listening to the recorded media file and noticed the following silly things I said, and one thing that was technically not possible:
- I said at the end of the backup that it was the end of a webcast. Silly me.
- I said the .vhd file was 5.8 meg instead of 5.8 gig. Dork.
- I said during the beginning of the restore discussion that hopefully you'll have the Windows Vista Recovery Environment (RE) on a partition so that you can run Complete PC. Uh, hello? If you lose the drive, you lose the RE partition. This is where the Windows Vista DVD comes in handy.