Regardless of your situation, you will not be happy to learn that Windows 8's backup and restore tools are completely different from the Backup Utility that came with Windows XP and as such the backup files are incompatible. You'll also not be happy to learn that while Microsoft provided supplemental utilities that were designed to allow you to restore a Windows XP backup in Windows Vista and for Windows 7; they haven't done so for Windows 8. And, to add insult to injury, neither of the previous supplemental utilities will work in Windows 8.
Fortunately, you will be very happy to learn there's a way that you can make Windows XP's Backup Utility run in Windows 8. Of course, I wouldn't recommend using it on a regular basis, but this technique works perfectly fine to restore a Windows XP backup in Windows 8.
In this article, I'll show you how to get Windows XP's Backup Utility to run in Windows 8. I'll then walk you through a restore operation and pass along some pointers as I do.
You may have noticed that I specifically mentioned restoring data from an external hard disk. The reason that I did is because Windows 8, like Windows 7, no longer includes the Removable Storage Manager, which is required to restore a backup that was saved on tape. As such, if you need to restore a Windows XP backup that was saved on tape; you will need to restore it on a computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista.
Getting Windows XP's Backup Utility
Getting Windows XP's Backup Utility to run in Windows 8 is actually very easy once you know how. As it turns out, Windows XP's Backup Utility only needs three files to run:
Of course, ntbackup.exe is the utility's executable file, ntmsapi.dll is the Removable Storage Public Interfaces DLL file, and vssapi.dll is the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Requestor/Writer Services API DLL file. (Even though the Removable Storage Public Interfaces DLL file is required, you still can't restore from a tape drive in Windows 8.)
If you still have access to a Windows XP system, you can simply copy these three files from the C:\Windows\System32 folder onto a flash drive. If you don't have access to a Windows XP system, you'll discover that some enterprising users on Web have made these files available for download; just Google nt5backup.cab. The .cab file functions just like a .zip file, so all you have to do is extract the three required files. For example, I extracted the three files to a folder I created called NT Backup, as shown in Figure A.
Windows XP's Backup Utility only needs three files to run.
Create a receiving folder
When you are using Windows XP's Backup Utility to restore files into Windows 8, you need to be aware that you are forcing old technology to work in a new operating system and will need to take some precautions along the way. The first precaution is not to attempt to restore files into their original location. For example, you won't want to restore Windows XP's My Documents into Windows 8's Documents due to differences in naming, permissions, volume mount points, etcetera. Instead, you will want to create a folder in your Windows 8 system and then restore your XP files into that folder. You can then redistribute them into the proper Windows 8 folders later.
For my example, I created a folder called XP Restore in my Documents folder, as shown in Figure B.
You will want to create a separate folder into which you will restore your Windows XP files.
Running a restore operation
To get started, go to the folder to which you copied the three files and run the ntbackup.exe file. When you do, the Backup Utility will begin looking for backup devices, as shown in Figure C.
When you launch the Backup Utility, it will look for backup devices.
In a moment, the Backup Utility will display a message box, as shown in Figure D, informing you that it cannot connect to the Removable Storage service. As I mentioned earlier, Windows 8, doesn't include the Removable Storage Manager, which is required to restore a backup that was saved on tape. Fortunately, this isn't a showstopper and you can just click OK to bypass the message.
The Backup Utility will not be able to locate the Removable Storage service and display this message.
You then see the first screen in the Backup and Restore Wizard, as shown in Figure E. While you can use the wizard to run the restore operation, you can save yourself some steps by selecting Advanced Mode.
While you can run restore from the wizard, you will be best served by running it in Advanced Mode.
When you see the main Backup Utility screen, shown in Figure F, you'll want to select the Restore and Manage Media tab.
You'll select the Restore and Manage Media tab.
Once you access the Restore and Manage Media tab, as shown in Figure G, you'll see the controls that you will need to configure and use to perform the restore operation.
In Advance Mode interface, you will see all the controls that you need to configure and use to perform a restore operation.
The first setting that you will need to change is the Restore files to setting. You'll need to select Alternate location from the drop down and then use the Browse button to select the receiving folder that you created earlier. As you can see in Figure H, I selected the XP Restore folder that I created.
You'll specify the receiving folder you created as the alternate location.
Now you will need to locate and select the backup file. To do so, pull down the Tools menu and select the Catalog a backup file command. When you see the Open Backup File dialog box, click the browse button and locate your backup file. As you can see in Figure I, I have selected my Backup.bkf file on the external hard disk assigned to drive E.
Use the Catalog command to open your backup file.
Once you select your backup file, it will appear in the Backup Utility. If you don't want to restore everything, you can expand the tree and then you can pick and choose individual files, as shown in Figure J.
If you would prefer not to restore everything, you can pick and choose individual files.
Once you are satisfied with your configuration settings, just click the Start Restore button. When you do, you'll be prompted to confirm the restore operation and can just select OK to begin. Once the restore operation is complete, you'll notice that the Status indicates that the operation was Completed with Skipped Files, as shown in Figure K.
The Status indicates that files were skipped.
If you then click the Report button, you'll notice that the log indicates that every file was skipped due to insufficient privileges, as shown in Figure L. However, when you check the receiving folder that you created, you'll find that every file has indeed been restored properly. You can write this off as a side effect of running a Windows XP program in Windows 8.
The report indicates that none of the files were restored.
To complete the operation, just close the Backup Utility.
If you encounter a corrupt backup file or prefer to use a more full featured restore program to restore a Windows XP backup in Windows 8, then you might want to investigate the BKF Repair Tool from SysTools. While this tool is primarily designed to recover and repair BKF files so that you can restore them, it is compatible with Windows 8 and can be used to perform a normal restore operation. You can download a free demo that will allow you to test its validity - you can access and see your files but you can't actually restore them. If you like what you see and want to use the BKF Restore Tool to actually restore your Windows XP backup to your Windows 8 system, you will need to purchase the program.
What's your take?
Are you planning on restoring a Windows XP backup in Windows 8? If so, will you use the technique shown in this article? 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.
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.