Restore a Windows XP backup in Windows 8

Learn how to get Windows XP's Backup Utility to run in Windows 8 so that you can restore a backup.

If you are using Windows XP and regularly backup your data to an external hard disk using Windows XP's Backup Utility, chances are that you imagined that when it was time to move to a new Windows 8 computer, you would simply restore your backup into the new operating system. Or maybe you have found yourself with a completely dead Windows XP computer and all you have left is your trusty external hard disk containing a recent backup created with Windows XP's Backup Utility.

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.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.


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:

  1. ntbackup.exe
  2. ntmsapi.dll
  3. vssapi.dll

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 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.

Figure A

Fig A 10-11.png

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.

Figure B

Fig B 10-11.png

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.

Figure C

Fig C 10-11.png

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.

Figure D

Fig D 10-11.png

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.

Figure E

Fig E 10-11.png

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.

Figure F

Fig F 10-11.png

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.

Figure G

Fig G 10-11.png

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.

Figure H

Fig H 10-11.png

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.

Figure I

Fig I 10-11.png

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.

Figure J

Fig J 10-11.png

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.

Figure K

Fig K 10-11.png

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.

Figure L

Fig L 10-11.png

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.


These steps are really very helpful in storing backup but few days back I had also used the tech support services of AskPcexperts ( ) and believe me their services are really worthwhile.


Brilliant, thanks very much. Followed your instructions to the letter and never lost one file from my dead XP laptop onto my new Windows 8.1 machine.


Thanks, It helped me and saved my time.

Once again thanks for  the detailed explanation.


I tried this on a newly installed Windows 8.1 and still could not get the backup program to work.

However, I then used a different approach. I attached my external hard drive (which already contained the XP backup) to the XP computer, and used backup to restore the backup onto a folder on the external hard drive itself. I then just copied that folder to the Win 8.1 computer.


You may find many third party BKF recovery tool that guarantees to repair and restore the data from corrupt BKF files, but I would like to suggest you take help of for BKF Repair tool. The tool is well integrated with advance features and allows you to repair or restore all the data from MS BKF files quickly.


Very helpful. Well written, too!

(Signed up just to write that.)


Restoring Windows backup file sometimes become complicated if user is not technically sound or if he is not aware of the right way to restore backup file. 

Above mentioned solution is good information. While going through different ways of restoring backup, I encountered with . It has got different solutions to recover different backup file such as backup of SQL Server, MS Exchange Server, Windows Backup, Symantec Backup, etc.


Have HP windows 7 not out of box yet. Would like info on how to make an operating system back/installation disc. Using DVD'S with built in burner.


Brand new desk top not out of box yet. Window 7.

Before doing anything I would like to make a back up disk of the operating system. I'm an X p old timer. Can anyone help with procedures?


the article and instructions are excellent. However, the process worked but all the important files, docs and settings, were empty folders.  Is there anything that can be done to recover these files?  


Great article--and it worked like a charm!  Thanks.


I was doing fine with this process until I got to step 8, when my backup file would not expand. Cannot open the backup file. I went over to systools for a fix and they wanted ninety dolllars. Is there really no other way than buying a piece of software I will only use once?? What should I do next??

Ameer Baig
Ameer Baig

Hello sir....nice post...I have a query...Can we restore all the installed programs on xp to windows 8

Clifford Silvey
Clifford Silvey

bill gate : lets lock and load and kill the mother !!


MS Backup files sometimes get corrupt or damage due to various errors like viruses attack or interruptions during backup process. You need to use effective third party tool that can quickly restore all the data from damaged BKF files. This application is supported by windows platform.


Thanks for sharing this useful article as it was a real problem solver for me, as I was going through the situation of error while restoring bkf file in Windows 8. It will surely help the world with easy steps for restoration of xp backup in Windows 8.


Well, since i'm not running XP (haven't been since the W7 RTM preview) and won't be running W8 any time soon ... i'm of the opinion that i don't need to care about this. 


Excellent and highly pertinent article. We must admire the author for bringing the right topic in front and an excellent content. Most of the people face problems with Windows 8. However, some article regarding the backup of smartphones may be also highly useful. Appnext, admob, revmob, chartboost, tapjoy may try out to break the monopoly of Android or iOS and bring their own backup and recovery system


@tulaipaul yeah surely...We must admire the author for bringing the right topic in front...


If you do still have access to a Windows XP system, you can simply restore files on XP then copy them across.


Interesting, but curious to know why this is important.  To have access to data files in the XP backup, like documents and photos?  Or also to have access to the XP OS files for some reason (to run in XP Mode)?

Also, in order to "Log in" to Tech Republic to post this comment, I have to set my NoScript in Firefox to permit EVERY script on this page to run.  Why?  If this were a different website, like USA Today, I wouldn't be surprised.  But this is a tech website, and such things should NOT happen.  Bad show.  (Although Mark Kaelin's articles are always helpful.)

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

Do you need to restore Windows XP from a Windows 8 machine? How do you plan to do it? Does Greg's tip help you?


@Mark W. Kaelin I'm sure this scenario would come up, but wouldn't the same hold true in restoring a Server 2003 backup file to Server 2012? Now THAT I'm sure is bound to come up!

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