Disaster Recovery

Get Windows XP's Backup utility to use recordable optical media

Greg Shultz shows you a workaround that will allow you to indirectly make Windows XP's Backup utility use recordable optical media as a backup destination.

Windows XP's Backup utility does not allow you to directly select any type of recordable optical media (i.e., CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, or DVD-RW) as a backup destination -- even though you can copy files to recordable optical media from within Windows Explorer. However, there is a workaround that will allow you to indirectly make the Backup utility use recordable optical media as a backup destination.

This blog post is also available in the PDF format in a TechRepublic Download.

How it works

In this workaround, you direct the Backup utility to save the backup file in the CD Burning spool folder. You can then burn the backup to your recordable optical media. Here's how:

  • Launch Backup.
  • Select the Backup tab and choose the files that you want to back up.
  • Choose File from the Backup Destination drop-down list.
  • In the Backup Media or File Name text box, type the following path:
    C:\Documents and Settings\<user name>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\CD Burning\Backup.bkf

Where <user name> is the name of your user profile folder and Backup.bkf is the name of the backup file.

As soon as the backup starts, you'll see a balloon appear in the notification area that alerts you that you have files waiting to be written to the CD. Once the backup is complete, click the balloon to open Windows Explorer and then click the Write These Files To CD command in the CD Writing Tasks section of the task pane.

Note: The only drawback to this technique is that you cannot make Backup span large backup files across multiple CDs. As such, you'll need to ensure that your backup file will fit on one CD.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

29 comments
dryflies
dryflies

if you want to use eSATA or USB2.0 or NAS, That's fine, But when you back up your systems, you have to think about the situations when a restore is needed. I run a small shop, less than a hundred users, but they are scientists and LOVE digital cameras. Plus, they are constantly writing papers for publication. so I have several layers of backup. Short term desktop backup. for there document area, I have a continuous backup that saves the last four iterations of all files no more than two per day so regardless of how active they are on a particular file, they have at worst, the last two days of edits. Next, Their personal netowrk folders and each collaboration group folder and the organizational folders are each backed up in a grandfather, father, son scheme. The son makes a full backup weekly with incrementals daily until the day before the next full backup. I rotate through 4 sons. The father does a complete backup every 4 weeks,with three intervening incrementals rotating through 6 sets. The grandfather does a full image every 6 Months, with monthly intervening incrementals. Finally, I also do an image of each server system state on a weekly and six month basis. the six month disaster recovery image includes a snapshot of ALL user data on servers and is stored at a sister site in another state. is this overkill? maybe, but I have never been in the position of not being able to restore a file. The whole system, with primary storage capacity of 6TB was less than 20K + $40 per seat.

phcsmile
phcsmile

not very intresting, because its not writing cd or dvd, just sending to the folder, and even if backup destination is other than described, to send any folder to cd burning folder, you can do that simply doing right click-send to-cd dvd.... and its faster even if its 700Mb file

ken.tarr
ken.tarr

I have a client who needed a simple backup solution, and was also frustrated in that you couldn't directly record to a CD or DVD. The indirect way I did it was create the backup in the root directory (C:), then record it onto the CD or DVD. I recommded DVD given the increased storage capacity, but was limited to 4.7G so it was a decision on what needed to be backed up to get it to fit. (Turned out we had way too much selected to back up that didn't need to be in the first place!) This is still an indirect solution but saves a little time and I think is more space efficient in the long run. Thanks for the tip!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Greg describes a clever trick for Windows XP, but a truly successful backup system requires something more sophisticated. In this era of "cloud computing" and alike, what is your best solution for regular, scheduled backups?

cliffcoy
cliffcoy

Every o/s Microsoft has released, from DOS2.11 thru XP includes a command-line program called XCOPY. It can do full or incremental backups to usb-attached drives, can be scheduled and can be restored to any drive with a compatible file system. I'm not so sure about optical drives, but these days they are hardly big enough anyway.

cdbob18
cdbob18

brilliant idea..everyone is probably wondering 'why didn't i think of that' ? i assume you 'send to'/copy one folder or batch of files at a time,,,and that they can be individually restored as needed in any combination -- no matter how many 'sessions' are sent to blank dvd ? (a)is there an equivalent of 'verify' in this process that can be used to insure the non-corrupt state of what's sent to the dvd? (b)what happens if the last folder/file you send doesn't fit becuase you've gone over the media's capacity? i.e. is everything except that last session still readable? or have you coastered the entire dvd disk? (c) to avoid above, can you compute the collective size of everything to be backed-up in advance? -- without having to add manually on paper to avoid exceeding the dvd disk capacity? (d) is there a way to highlight a combination of folders and files and easily compute total gig size in advance of the burn? these are useful features of backup software i'd like to duplicate with your easier method your answers will probably appear obvious to me but only after you or someone else comes up with it first thanks again for your clear thinking

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

Yes, you can save your backup file to the desktop and burn it in cd/dvd later.... Or you can burn the data backup file to dvd using Roxio or NERO... or you can use NERO Backup as well...

roger
roger

I backup my OS with Acronis using the scheduling feature once a week. It backs up to a second hard drive. HOWEVER ! after an incident where my system crashed and took out data on both hard drives (weird!) I learned the hard way. A second backup should be kept on a different computer or external drive. For that I use SyncBack to move my operating system backups and other data, like pictures, music, movies, to an external 2 1/2 inch notebook drive. (Those small drives are really nice) If I'm out of town I put the small drive in my case and take it with me. That way, if the house burns down (I live in Southern California) I have everything with me. Lastly, I use an encryption tool to keep the private data private in case the airline loses my luggage. Sounds like a lot of trouble but everything runs without my intervention.

lhjr1947
lhjr1947

Why use Windows Backup? Are things so bad that someone can't go to PC Mag and check out the reviews and prices of backup software? Some are free and some known Software companies are very reasonably priced.

allen
allen

If you have a lot of data consider disk to disk backups using an esata toaster, you just drop in a raw sata drive, either 2.5" or 3.5" and backup, I use DriveImageXML software Free, Fast and Easy to recover from. Just purchase extra drives, of the size of your data, as you can afford them and rotate. This is the fastest method I've found and beats tape any day. I tried USB drives, but they were way to slow!.

harrywwc
harrywwc

Hi guys, if you're still playing with optical media (cd/dvd/blueray) or tape, then your backups are way too small. After more than a decade, I have given up on these - with (at home) some 160GB of data to backup on my desktop, and another 250GB on the server, I've switched to external USB disks ('cause I can't afford e-SATA drives - yet). They are cheap, large in capacity, easy to store physically - and I can be pretty sure virtually every machine I get to replace a destroyed on will have USB for the foreseeable future. Oh, and my 'backup program' is "rsync" - it is darn slow the first time on each disk (3 generations), but subsequent runs are much faster. :') .h

StealthWiFi
StealthWiFi

I transfer backups from the servers to a secured storage array and from there make copies onto BluRay disks for offsite storage

rroberto18
rroberto18

can you reply with a link from microsoft's website or other reputable source that explains how the XCOPY command works in greater detail i.e. (a) how to choose specific folders and files (b) how to specify the destination? (c) whether the use of this command requires familiarity with programming language? appreciate your reply

JCitizen
JCitizen

But I've simply copied it. This doesn't work with DVDs however, and I suspect XP isn't capable of burning to DVD without third party software; it may depend on the particular DVD device's firmware, however. a)verify? - I just put it in another machine and look oat it - clumsy I will admit, but it has never failed me yet. In fact doing this avails a better AV to examine the disc for malware that jumps on the disc during burning and attempts to take the new PC before offloading. b)refer to answer a) c) I just right ckick the root folder to see how large it is in file properties d) sounds like you already know this; simply highlight the files total for backup/copy and then right click them for size in file properties. XP tends to brain fart once an a while and not accept the folder for copy, and I don't have a workaroung for this, but the author of this article has probably already answered with his suggestions.

Former Big Iron Guy
Former Big Iron Guy

Acronis True Image Home does it for me. I set it up to back up to HD's as needed, but have it slice the backup files into DVD sized chunks. I have found the best performance to slice to a HD and then use Nero to burn the DVD's. The direct to DVD (or CD) option of Acronis is the only thing that is not up to snuff for me. I rotate ordinary backups thru a set of DVD-R/W's and take critical point backup's (SP's, major app upgrades, etc) to DVD-R's Acronis also has the ability to backup to a special Secure Zone partition on a HD. It has bootable rescue media and a startup recovery manager also. I first bought Acronis to clone HD's (like when I swapped out the OEM 40GB HD for a 400GB). I found that function much more impressive than Ghost at the time, and the pricing was much better.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you have a recommendation? Which one do you use? That is what this discussion thread is asking for - recommendations.

jakay
jakay

I personaly use a handy replicator program that allows for maximum flexibility in what you want to back up. http://www.karenware.com/powertools/ptreplicator.asp Like others, I have choosen to use the USB drive backup solution mostly due to cost and flexibility. For me, this is more than adequate.

jgrabowski
jgrabowski

We use a combination of the following: ntbackup DriveimageXML robocopy WinRaR 2 x WD USB 2.5? 250Gb passport drives The backups are done with batch files, controlled with the task scheduler. The backup files go to a 1Tb sata disk on the server then robocopy brings them over to a backup box (PC with a 1Tb drive). From there the backup is archived into a rar file using a password. The USB drive is connected to the backup box and the rar file is transferred to off site storage. We rotate the two sata drives. All this is controlled with batch files and the task scheduler. Once it was setup this has proven to be very reliable.

vitec
vitec

You must have a LOT of time on your hands... I just went through and after reading the initial stuff about RSYNC on the website it seemed like it was going to be a breeze. But after downloading it (and an unzipper for TAR's and GZ's) I finally got the package open, but things were not looking as simple as they made it out to be. There has got to be a better solution. I'm sure once you got your's up and running it ran well for you, but that is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a "quick and dirty" way of doing backups. For anyone looking to backup large amounts of data (more than a DVD's worth), I still recommend a small tape backup. There are some very nice little units that provide 100's of gigs of space for not too large a price tag. After all, what's YOUR data worth to YOU??? I agree with the G-Man on this one I'm afraid.

louspag
louspag

I keep just about everything I have at my fingertips so my backup method is Disk to internal disk using a synch product and monthly to a NAS device built from an old used computer with plenty of memory and disk space using (freeNAS). I do have off-site storage using an external USB drive periodically.

Dale7777
Dale7777

I thought Robocopy is replacing Xcopy.

seanferd
seanferd

All commands have integrated help. Open a command window, type xcopy /? Or open Windows help, type in the search box xcopy If you'd like something more versatile, see http://www.xxcopy.com

seanferd
seanferd

Type this into the internet search box. Native XP.

rroberto18
rroberto18

...or an XP command? either way, can you provide a link with selection, destination and restore specifics?

JCitizen
JCitizen

Actually I thought your suggestion here in the article was the best thing I've heard since sliced bread! 95% of my clients will not buy or use backup software; so this method will be the only one they will cooperate with I'm sure! Personally I will try Acronis; but I have so many external and net hard drives to hold my data, I'm not in a hurry to try it yet. As far as OS image backup, I've used the old Quest version of Partitian Magic - Norton Ghost was ruined by Symantec. If the client already has Roxio MyDVD installed on the unit, this is greatly simplified; but by the time they call me this is too late. So trying to install something in the recovery process isn't viable, of course.

alexisgarcia72
alexisgarcia72

I have a Pillar AXiom SAN with 0.3 Petabytes. There is no reliable or cheap way to backup all this data. I back it up the "users data", sql databases and Exchange with Arcserve and a QUantum tape drive (800GB each tape w/o compression). We backup daily and save the tapes offsite. For home I use a good initiative!... I have my hard drive with C and D partitions. C have programs and OS, D have all data. I have a full WINDOWS Vista recovery Image (you can restore the image from the windows vista boot menu or even from the Vista Boot DVD. This can recover my machine to a good state even if the machine do not boot. For data I use BEYOND COMPARE, the best sync software at all. Even MAC users hate why this software is not available in MAC. Beyond compare is the best, we check more than 10 sync software packages in the past when we need to sync 3 million files (3 terabytes) and Beyond Compare was the winner. So in a disaster i Recover my machine with Vista full restore option (this is similar to GHOST) and sync with Beyond compare. The data is stored in a couple of external hard drives (and most important data have an additional copy in 9GB dvds)

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