If you support Microsoft Windows 98 clients on your network, some of your users may have older hardware in their systems. Older hardware is more prone to failure; this especially applies to older hard disks—though even today’s reliable hard disks fail on occasion. How do you restore Windows 98 and all the data from a backup when a hard drive crashes?

Windows 98’s Backup utility has you covered. If you back up the hard drive to tape on a regular basis and have a Windows 98 CD and startup disk on hand, you can easily restore a Windows 98 system by using Windows 98’s System Recovery Utility.

A procedural overview
Before I start with the actual procedure, I’ll take a brief look at the steps involved. To begin with, you’ll have to either install a brand-new hard disk or reformat the one that crashed, depending on the severity of the meltdown. You’ll also need a Windows 98 startup disk, a Windows 98 CD, and your backup tape.

The first step involves booting your system with the Windows 98 startup disk. You’ll then run a special Windows 98 minimal installation procedure. You’ll complete the procedure by running Microsoft Backup to restore your operating system, applications, and data from the backup tape.

Using the Windows 98 startup disk
When you boot up your system with the Windows 98 startup disk, you’ll see a menu like the one shown in Figure A. Option 1 is the one you want. Since it’s selected by default, all you have to do is press [Enter] and your system will boot up with access to the CD-ROM drive.

Figure A

As soon as the correct CD-ROM driver is located, the Windows 98 startup disk will automatically reboot the system and load it. In addition, the procedure will create a RAM disk and copy a series of diagnostic tools to this new disk drive. However, you won’t be using any of these diagnostic tools in this procedure, so you need not concern yourself with them.

Initiating the System Recovery Utility procedure
Loading the System Recovery Utility is a snap. Begin at the DOS prompt by typing the letter assigned to your CD-ROM drive. Bear in mind that the CD-ROM drive letter will be one drive letter higher than it normally is. This is because the RAM disk drive will be assigned to the letter normally assigned to your CD-ROM drive. For example, if your CD-ROM drive letter is normally D, it will now be E. Don’t worry about this change affecting the restore operation—all drive letters will return to the way they were when your system is restored.

Once you change to the CD-ROM drive, you’ll use the DOS CD command to change to the \Tools\Sysrec folder. For example, type CD \TOOLS\SYSREC. Next, type PCRESTOR and press [Enter] to launch the System Recovery Utility. When you do, you’ll see the introduction screen for the DOS-based portion of the System Recovery Utility.

Simply press the Spacebar to continue. As soon as you do, the System Recovery Utility will launch a fully automated version of the Setup procedure, which will begin to install a minimal version of the Windows 98 operating system—only enough to launch Microsoft Backup and perform the restore operation. As this minimal installation proceeds, you can remove the Windows 98 startup disk from the A: drive and set it aside.

The minimal installation procedure
The minimal installation procedure can be broken down into two steps that together will take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to complete.

The first half of the procedure is totally automated, so you won’t have to respond to any prompts. However, during the second half of the procedure, the Windows 98 Setup Wizard will prompt you to accept the license agreement and provide some information, including product identification number, username, and password. The Windows 98 Setup Wizard will also detect the hardware and restart the system several times.

The System Recovery Wizard
Once the minimal installation procedure is complete, you’ll see the first screen in the System Recovery Wizard. When you click Next, you’ll be prompted to enter your registration information again. The System Recovery Wizard will track down and install any special drivers needed to operate your tape backup drive. Once the tape backup drivers are in place, the System Recovery Wizard will display its last screen and prompt you to begin the actual restore operation. To commence this operation, click Finish.

Performing the restore operation
Once the restore operation begins, you’ll see the Microsoft Backup dialog box shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Once you select the Restore Backed Up Files option and click OK, you’ll see the first screen in the Restore Wizard, as shown in Figure C. You should see your backup device listed in the Restore From drop-down list. If your backup device isn’t listed in the Restore From drop-down list, see the sidebar “Manually installing your tape backup drivers.”

Figure C


When you click Next, the Restore Wizard will locate and scan your tape backup. You’ll then see the Select Backup Sets dialog box, and you’ll be prompted to select the correct backup set, as shown in Figure D. As you can see in my example, I’m restoring from a single, full backup. However, if you’ve been performing incremental backups, you’ll need to begin with the full backup set and then restore each of your incremental backup sets, beginning with the oldest and progressing to the most recent incremental backup.

Figure D

Once you select your backup set and click OK, the Restore Wizard will prompt you to select the items you want to restore. Of course, you’ll just select the check box next to the C: icon.

In the next step, the Restore Wizard will prompt you to choose where to restore the items that you selected. In most cases, you’ll choose the Original Location option in the Where To Restore drop-down list box, and click Next.

The Restore Wizard will then prompt you to select how you want the restore operation to deal with existing files. Since there are no files on the hard disk, it really doesn’t matter what you select here. However, I recommend that you choose the Always Replace The File On My Computer option, as shown in Figure E. Then, click the Start button at the bottom of the screen.

Figure E

At this point, you’ll be prompted to verify that the tape indeed contains the backup you want to restore. When you click OK, the restore operation will begin.

If you chose to back up the registry when you did your full backup, Microsoft Backup will prompt you to restore the registry. Since the registry is the heart and soul of the Windows operating system, you’ll want to click Yes to fully restore the system to the way it was.

Microsoft Backup will then prompt you to restore the hardware and system settings contained in the registry. If you haven’t added or removed hardware on your system since you last backed up your registry, you should click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and Microsoft Backup will leave in place the hardware settings that were established during the minimal installation procedure.

Now Microsoft Backup will begin restoring your files, a process that will take at least an hour to complete. Once the restore operation finishes, Microsoft Backup will prompt you to restart the system. When the system restarts, everything should appear as it did right before the hard drive failed.

More information on Windows 98 and Microsoft Backup
If you’re still using Windows 98, you’ll be glad to know that you can find support for this operating system on the Microsoft Windows 98 page. There, you’ll find all kinds of information on Windows 98’s utilities, including Backup.