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Restore a lost feature and install XP's Backup Utility into Windows Vista

TechRepublic members have been wondering if it is possible to install the Windows XP Backup Utility into Windows Vista. Greg Shultz has uncovered the way and shows you how in this week's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report.

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.

In this edition of the Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report, I'll show you how to install Windows XP's Backup Utility in Windows Vista.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

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
You can then copy them to a folder on a USB drive for easy transport over to a Vista system, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

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.

Figure B

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.

Figure C

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.

Figure D

Select the Removable Storage Management check box in the Windows Features dialog box.

Running the Backup Utility

Once 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.

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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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.

36 comments
sam_sawyer
sam_sawyer

Greg, it may have been covered in the previous posts, but I am wondering if the procedure you detailed for Windows Vista will also work for Windows 7? The backup version that comes with Windows 7 Home Premium does not support network drives and this could be a potential solution to that irritating decision by Microsoft.

wbuckner
wbuckner

Absolutely - what does Microsoft think about this?

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

Oh, say back in the Microsoft operating system 2000 era much if not most of the how, why and where of operating systems had been developed and implemented. Not all, but most, was done. Building software is like building a bridge. You build it and move on. In time you pull it down and build another one, you don't keep building continuously. However, Microsoft has decided to try and make building like baking and setup shop. So, it has to do something with all those employees. The problem is they keep re-inventing the wheel called operating system to justify their jobs. That is why we get abortions like the "new look" that came out with XP, that most people back step to the classic interface. Important parts and pieces going missing between "new and improved" operating systems. Or, other marketing abortions like all the different flavors of OS with all but the middle couple being worthless garbage with either too little in them or too much to justify inflated prices. Now, however Microsoft is eyeing subscriptions. They wanted to do that back when I worked there, but the Internet wasn't robust enough and they couldn't convince the old timers to go back to the mainframe thin client thick server model, who remember being at the mercy of IT. Considering their lack of customer service, would you really want to do LIVE everything in subscription? That is why I am looking at other browsers. That is their beach head into our machines. Given the product roadmap I've seen; I am furiously learning how to use Linux and Mac so that I can cut loose this sorry excuse for an operating system called Vista Basic with all the bits and pieces missing and the three application limit in Win 7. I am tired of jousting with the bean counters and marketing mongrels at Microsoft.

julioa.morales
julioa.morales

It just works, but since I have installed a VMWorkstation and have a Windos XP VM. I fired up the XP's VM and drag and drop the files

frank_s
frank_s

Greg, I think you misremember--you didn't need an XP Pro disk to install the NT backup in XP Home. You could install it from the XP Home CD; it was located in the Valueadd\Msft\Ntbackup folder on the XP Home CD.

amj2010
amj2010

most of the time people want to restore their old system or file back which that they have screwed up... or the program... so a system restore option plus the backup complete pc image with the help of your installation disk is used the most...

bheite
bheite

Why bother at all. I am much happier using Acronis 11 than I ever was in Win BU. My Acronis takes about 1/3 the time and doesn't tell me all the files it couldn't get to backing up etc.. Norton Ghost was a huge pain, and blew up more often or not, sometmes even scrambling all the drive letters to where the computer was unbootable because c: was now e:. I reccomend a user evaluate BU solutions based on their performance only and Win BU comes up short every time.

Wombat Ron
Wombat Ron

I'm more interestd in installing Windows Server 2003's backup utility on to Windows Server 2008! 2008's utility is an all-or-nothing dog.

star_topology
star_topology

Surely I'm not the only one who prefers the Vista Backup Utility over NTBackup? This article threw me for a loop--Who would actually *want* NTBackup??

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Now that you know that you can install and run XP's Backup Utility on your Vista system, will you do so?

melias
melias

I use NTBackup on two PCs that backup shared data to an USB tape drive. Neither Vista nor Windows 7 backup support tape drives.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Given that NTBackup can make a full system backup, but Vista cannot make a selective backup, is why NTBackup is scorned. As an example, I have a script that calls NTBackup to run a preconfigured backup job that backs up our application databases and the sql data folder. The backup file is then compressed into a datetime stamped CAB file to be written to CD. When Vista came along, I had to have the script write a CAB directive file.

jjarmel
jjarmel

As we move to the Windows 7 release in October I'm wondering whether a solution to restoring backups from prior versions will be built into the new version. While I understand the new version will allow the choice on new backups, what happens to legacy backups ?

lelerew
lelerew

I strongly object to your encouraging activity that you admit is likely a violation of the EULA. Have you no ethical or moral standards? Encouraging others to commit criminal acts is punishable as conspiracy. Sorry, but you should be fired from your job for this lack of moral standards. If you want a good backup routine, buy BackUp4All. I've used it for years when Microsoft's stripped down versions of Seagate et seq. left me unsatisfied.

Realvdude
Realvdude

I don't see MS storming the corporate gates over this, but I wonder about installing NTBackup on a computer for someone that does not have a Windows XP Pro license.

darrin
darrin

I've previously installed this utility (actually, did it shortly after I had Vista to get some of my XP stuff onto the Vista box) and thought this was an updated version - indeed it might be but it's still a RESTORE ONLY version of NT Backup. So it's not the Windows NT Backup/Restore utility - it's the "Windows NT Backup" - "Restore Utility". Subtle but distinct difference. So if you want to use traditional NT Backup software, you are back to following the original instructions in this article. I tried copying NTBACKUP.exe and VSSAPI.DLL into the program files folder the above download creates and this does give you the backup option back, but unless you really have downgrade rights, I would imagine doing so is a violation of licensing. Finally, even though this has been tested by some on here, I'd be cautious about using it for anything other than file based backup - stick to Vista's own backup for System backup (e.g. what you'd need if you have an HD failure), otherwise you might find restoration of certain system components problematic.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Tapes are designed to work with the sever OS versions (2003 / 2008) and not normally the client.

Rob Kuhn
Rob Kuhn

I haven't tested this yet but another possible reason for wanting NTBackup in your Vista machine would be to open an NTBackup file in Vista? Or will Vista's backup do this already? I haven't had a chance to test this but if the answer is "No" that Vista will not open/import an NTBackup then I can see why you would want this. And just because you have NTBackup in Vista doesn't mean you have to use it. :-)

mloucel
mloucel

Dear lelerew: I hope you are making loads of money with MS, cause the rest of US, 99% are not, and thanks for the advertisement to BackUp4All, I'm pretty sure they will be happy, but in the meantime if you DO NOT HELP, PLESE STOP SENDING PEOPLE TO PRISION, it is incredible how things work in KARMA...

ashley.lawrence
ashley.lawrence

since when do EULAs and morality have anything to do with eachother. Besides, the writer was just guessing it would be wrong to do so, looks like it's ok in this case because it's available for download from MS and a fair bit of people who have Vista have downgrade rights to XP anyway so by default can use code from that OS anyway.

MDev
MDev

Interesting how we lost Greg in this discussion, once we probed the "gray area" (at best) of legality. I develop software for a company about one-millionth the size of Microsoft, and if somebody casually skirts the ownership rights, it can darken my employment picture (taken to extremes). It's not about being Goody Two-Shoes, it's about doing what's right and what you'd want people to do if it were *your* handiwork they were tossing about. Even a huge company is made up of real people.

bdaly
bdaly

If you have MS SA on Vista, you get the downgrade rights to XP Pro. Would this allow you to run WinXP components on Vista since you have the license for both?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

As I wrote this article, I intended that this technique be used by a Vista user who does have a Windows XP Pro license. However, if you want to get all technical about it, I'm pretty sure that the Windows XP Pro EULA would categorize this technique as a No No. I'm also pretty sure that installing NTBackup on a computer for someone that does not have a Windows XP Pro license would be considered an even bigger No No. However, I would imagine the MS has bigger fish to fry these days than chasing after people who copy a few files from one OS to another. On the other hand, if you were to encounter a problem after using this technique and then called MS tech support about it, they would probably say "Too bad, so sad..."

GameOvR
GameOvR

Cause if you do this, they are going to break down your door, beat you up and format your pc cause its not properly licensed.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

That is a very good question. If someone at Microsoft is listening we'd love to hear your thoughts.

mdhealy
mdhealy

I have read that Windows Seven lacks the Removable Storage functionality required by NTBackup and that therefore neither NTBackup nor the official tool from MS for reading data off .bkf files under Vista will work in Windows Seven. If true, that means anybody who has .bkf files must either restore from them using an XP/Vista box or else purchase third-party software that can read from .bkf files. Anybody know more?

frank_s
frank_s

The version of NT backup utility on the XP Home CD (located in the Valueadd\Msft\Ntbackup folder on the Windows Home CD) does both backups and restores--I can't speak for the downloadable version. For install instructions, check MS Knowledge Base article KB302894.

melias
melias

Tapes work on any OS that has drivers for the drives. I am curious why you would say otherwise. I know they are used mostly on servers, but there is NO reason not to use tapes on desktops.

lelerew
lelerew

Now I see it. If you make lots of money you can buy karma. Morality, the rule of law, ethical standards be damned.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Yes, you can schedule NTBackup in Vista; however, you must do so manually. Vista's Task Scheduler is designed as a MMC (Microsoft Management Console) snap-in and as such is very different from XP's Scheduled Tasks. Therefore, NTBackup's Schedule Jobs tab is unable to interface with Vista's Task Scheduler. The easiest way to get started is to first create and save a dummy backup job in Windows XP and configure it exactly as you want it to work and then specify a dummy schedule. Then, open Scheduled Tasks, find your backup job, open the Task, and copy command line from the Run text box. Paste the Run command line in Notepad, save the file and transfer the file over to your Vista system. Place it on your Desktop where you can easily access it when you need it a bit later. Now, launch NTBackup on your Vista system, select the files you want to backup and save a Backup Job (a.k.a. Selection Script (*.bks)). At this point, launch Task Scheduler and create and a task via the Create Basic Task Wizard or the standard Create Task interface. As you do, you'll select your schedule. Once you get to the point where you are ready to specify the Action, open the file you saved on your Desktop in Notepad, edit the paths to fit the location of NTBackup.exe and the name and location of your Backup Job file. Now, copy the first part of the edited command line to the Program/Script text box. Next copy the parameters to the Add arguments text box. If you have properly transferred the command line to your Task in Vista's Task Scheduler, NTBackup should run properly and as sceduled. If you need assistance with NTBackup's command line and paremters, you'll find detailed information as well as command line examples in XP's Help and Support Center-just search for NTBackup.

ddombek
ddombek

Can you run the backup on a schedule in Vista?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Both backup and restore function correctly.

TAB4217
TAB4217

Do you steal and cheat when it's 'safe' do to so? Do you obey the law only in the presence of the police? What happened to ethics and good conscience?