My recent blog post, Microsoft Bows to Feedback and Brings Back Real File Backup in Windows 7, raised quite a bit of conversation in the TechRepublic Community Forums about how much members liked XP's Backup Utility, which, by the way, was licensed by Microsoft from Veritas Software. This company specialized in storage management software, including the very popular Backup Exec for SOHO and NetBackup for the enterprise. (Incidentally, Backup Exec originally came from the Seagate Software acquisition.) With a heritage like this it is no wonder that Windows XP's Backup Utility was so effective and easy to use, not to mention so well liked by XP users.
It's a shame that Microsoft couldn't have continued that licensing relationship for Backup Exec with Symantec, who merged with Veritas in 2004. Since they couldn't, they developed Vista's Backup and Restore Center with its lame Backup Files option.
As I was pondering this snafu, I remembered that back in 2001 when Microsoft came out with Windows XP, the Backup Utility wasn't included with XP Home Edition -- it came only on the Professional Edition. However, if you had a XP Pro CD, you could very easily install the Backup Utility in XP Home Edition. I then started to wonder if it would be possible to use the same procedure with Vista. Unfortunately, the results were unsatisfactory.
However, because the Backup Utility is essentially a third-party utility that was integrated into the operating system, I discovered that installing it in Windows Vista can be done simply by copying a few files from an XP Pro system and enabling the Removable Storage Management system in Vista.
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Copying the files
Of course, in order to copy files for XP's Backup Utility, you need access to a working installation of XP Pro. You will then fire up Windows Explorer and navigate to the C:\Windows\System32 folder. Once there, you will need to locate the following files:
- Ntbackup.exe -- Windows Backup Utility executable
- Ntmsapi.dll -- Removable Storage Public Interfaces
- Vssapi.dll -- Volume Shadow Coy Requestor/Writer
I created a folder on my USB drive called Backup Utility and copied the necessary files to that folder.Once you insert the USB drive into a Vista system, you can copy the entire Backup Utility folder to the C:\Program Files folder, as shown in Figure B. Of course, you will encounter a couple of UACs and will have to deal with them appropriately.
You can copy the entire Backup Utility folder to the C:\Program Files folder on your Vista system.Once you have copied the Backup Utility folder, you can open it, right-click on the Ntbackup.exe file, and select the Send To | Desktop (Create Shortcut) command, as shown in Figure C. You can then move the shortcut to the Start menu if you want.
You'll create a shortcut to the Ntbackup.exe file.
Enabling the Removable Storage Management system
Now that you have the files necessary to run XP's Backup Utility on your Vista system, you need to enable the Removable Storage Management system. To do so, access the Control Panel, select Programs, and then click Turn Windows Features On or Off. When you do, you will encounter a UAC and will have to deal with it appropriately.When the Windows Features dialog box appears, scroll through the list, and locate and select the Removable Storage Management check box, as shown in Figure D. To continue, click OK.
Select the Removable Storage Management check box in the Windows Features dialog box.
Running the Backup UtilityOnce you have enabled the Removable Storage Management system, just locate and click the Ntbackup.exe shortcut. When you do, the Backup Utility will launch and you will be able to easily pick and choose which files and folders you want to back up, as shown in Figure E.
With XP's Backup Utility running on your Vista system, you can easily pick and choose which files and folders you want to back up.
(Even though the Removable Storage Management system is enabled, you may encounter a warning about the Removable Storage Service even though it is running as it should be. Just select the Don't Alert Me Again check box and click OK.)
What's your take?
Now that you know that you can install and run XP's Backup Utility on your Vista system, will you do so? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.
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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.