Windows Vista Complete PC Backup and Recovery

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Surely by now you've heard of Windows Vista Complete PC backup and recovery.  No?  Well, if you've ever managed to lose a hard drive, then you know how much fun it is to reinstall operating systems and applications.  Not to mention potentially losing ALL of your pictures, music, documents, and other business and personal data.

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 and


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:

  1. I said at the end of the backup that it was the end of a webcast.  Silly me.
  2. I said the .vhd file was 5.8 meg instead of 5.8 gig.  Dork.
  3. 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.

The Discussion

  • User profile image

    Fine webcast.


    As an extension to the stuff you said about mounting the VHD backup image file, it would sound bizar to me, if you couldn't mount it in Virtual PC/Server. Since the Virtual PC/Server use the VHA file extension aswell for its virtual harddrive files, it would really be a big mess.

  • User profile image
    Fine cast. Smiley
    One question to Windows Recovery Environement.

    Will their specials tools needed to put Windows Recovery Environement on HD, as you mentioned OEMS hopefully put it on a partition, or what is the trick?

    I wasn`t able to find any info so far.

  • User profile image
    Found it:

    It`s all written in winpe.chm from WAIK.

    Walkthrough: Walkthrough: Build a Windows Recovery Solution

    All you do is to customize your WINPE to include WRE (Windows RecoveryEnvironment)
    You then can take your version of WinPE and put it on HD for maintenance-purposes i.e. when not having install-DVD at hand.
  • User profile image
    Your video tutorial is great but I am getting stuck...  My old hard drive is failing so I ran the backup as your video shows.  I installed a new hard drive and am trying to restore the data to it.  Windows sees the drive fine, but it will not let me restore the data to it.  I get the following error:

    Error Details: There are too few disks on this computer or one or more of the disks is too small. Add or change disks so they match the disks in the backup, and try the restore again. (0x80042401)

    The drive I backed up to is 40 gigs (only 20 gigs of data is on the backup image) and the new drive is also 40 gigs and is completely blank.  Please help Sad   
  • User profile image
    Acronis 10 works perfect for moving a dying drive Smiley Even with vista it is working.  
  • User profile image
    Wow, yes indeed... Acronis 10.0 True Image (Trial is already enough) really works smooth
    Thanks so far for this hint.

    After trying to restore the image made by Vista Complete PC Backup (Vista Ultimate) I just got the same error as "duritz". Couldnt find any solution online and couldnt solve it on my own. I just needed to move my Vista from smaller harddsik to the bigger new SATA-drive.

    I tried NTI DriveBackup 4.0 which is working with Vista, but it created a not bootable image, Repair function with Original Vista DVD couldnt solve it. I could only log in in safe mode with no desktop icons or start menu and so on...

    Finally, after starting 30 hours ago, I have done it well within about 1,5 hours with Acronis 10.0 Trial Version.
    Just had to Repair the missing partition recognition with Vista DVD and start once in safe mode... Next start was as usual. Perfect.

    Maybe Complete PC Backup needs exactly the same partition size as the original? But I read also in other forums that this didnt worked either...
  • User profile image
    I was trying to use Complete PC Backup/Restore to move Vista to a larger drive. Won't work. You can only restore to the same or nearly the same drive. I post the results of some experimenting I did, here:

    Interesting results.

    Al Degutis
  • User profile image
    Just looking at Vista now for the first time.  I did a full pc backup to an external Maxtor drive, no problem.  Now I want to try the recovery part and when I select the drive the backup is on I get an error message stating: Windows was not able to find any backup sets . . . I can't find anything about this online.  Any thoughts here?
  • User profile image
    Good Webcast ...

    Unfortunately, I have not been able to get this workng.  When I try to run the complete backup, Windows Backup returns a window saying:

    Windows could not find backup devices on your computer.  The following information might explain why this problem occurred:

    Incorrect function. (0x80070001)

    Please close the backup application and try again.

    I have closed the backup application and tried again several times.  I have a DVD, 2nd hard drive and external USB hard drive connected to it. :O

    If I try to Backup Files, it sees the DVD and USB hard drive fine, but it does not see the 2nd hard drive connected in the computer. Perplexed

    BTW, I am running Windows Vista 64bit.

  • User profile image

    Backup and Restore, put simply, just doesn't work on Vista Home Premium.
    Many files are not backed up, and dangerously it leads you to believe that the backup was successful! I have just learnt from another forum that it doesn't do .exe and other files!

    Home Premium doesn't even do complete backups.

    It is not up to the job of trying to be a professional operating system.  A basic requirement of an operating system for the past 50 years has been the task of backing up (& restore if ever needed).

    Without this it should not even be released to Beta Testing.

    It is not "fit for purpose" (a legal consumer phrase in the UK) and you should get your money back from the supplier.


  • User profile image
    What wonderful content, congratulations on your video, I really liked it.

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