Enterprise Software

Back up your hard drive with Complete PC Backup imaging utility

Accessing Complete PC Backup

All previous Windows operating systems come with a backup utility to allow you to back up all the files on your hard disk. So too does Windows Vista. However, in addition to its standard backup utility, Windows Vista also comes with a hard disk imaging utility, called Complete PC Backup. This utility can create an image file that contains the complete contents and structure of a hard disk. If you've ever used Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image, then you have a good idea of what Windows Vista's Complete PC Backup imaging utility is all about.

This gallery is also available as Greg Shultz's article, Back up your hard drive with Complete PC Backup imaging utility.

Caveats
Keep in mind that that the type of backup that Complete PC Backup creates can not be used to restore single files--it can only restore the entire hard disk. For that reason, Microsoft recommends that even though you use Complete PC Backup, you still use the standard backup utility on a regular basis. Another thing to keep in mind is that Complete PC Backup and Restore is not included with Windows Vista Home Basic or Windows Vista Home Premium.

Accessing Complete PC Backup
There are two ways you can access the Complete PC Backup operation. You can access it from the Backup and Restore Center by clicking Start | All Programs | Maintenance. You can also access it from the Backup Status and Configuration page by clicking Start | All Programs | Accessories | System tools.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

4 comments
jimm
jimm

My backups all fail using Complete PC Backup. I get the error, "The Backup Failed." "The parameter is incorrect 0x80070057." And this happens on two brand new machines, one with Ultimate and the other with business. It only fails at the very end. One backup was to a second HD and one to DVDs. So, I would be impressed it if would work.

jdumont
jdumont

Back this up.

steve6375
steve6375

Running CompletePc Backup starts the Volume Shadow Copy service. This service can greatly reduce the free space on your hard drive volumes. Not only this but problems come when your PC has been made with a Recovery partition (winRE) by your OEM PC builder. This hidden recovery partition will always be included in the CompletePC backup image. The Shadow Copy service creates a LOT of new files in the Recovery volume as well. If the original size of the Recovery Volume has not been made large enough for these shadow files, CompletePC Backup will error out and fail. e.g. say you have a 600MB hidden OEM recovery partition. If you try to do a CompletePC backup it will fail due to lack of space for the shadow copies! There is then no way to use CompletePC backup to back up your system. The problem gets worse if you make a CompletePC backup and then change your computer name. When you next do another CompletePC backup a completely new VHD image is created and a second shadow files set. So unless the Recovery partition is big enough, the CompletePC Backup will fail even if it is 900MB. From experiments, if you change the computer name once and have made two CompletePC backups (one b4 and one after), you need to start with a recovery partition of 1.2GB (with approx 600MB unused space).