Monday, December 18, 2006

Using the Windows Backup Utility (ntbackup.exe)

Most people don't know that Windows comes with a decent (read Free!) Backup Utility. Granted it is not that useful in true enterprise situations (like mine), but it does work and is handy in a pinch. Also Microsoft has released a Powertoy called "Sync Toy" that does a fairly good job backing up file systems only.

The first thing that I do when I run the Backup Utility (found at Start Menu, [All Programs]*, Accessories, System Tools, Backup) or "Run...", ntbackup, [Enter] is I uncheck "Always start in Wizard mode", and click "Advanced Mode".

*Only if not using the "Classic" start menu in Windows XP/Server 2003.

To start a backup follow these steps.
1. Click on the "Backup" tab.
2. Check the boxes for what you want to back up.
3. Check "System State" to back up Boot Files, Com+ Class Registration Database, and the System Registry.
4. Name your backup and select it's location.
5. If you want to schedule a backup job click the "Schedule Jobs" tab. Then the "Add Jobs" button in the lower right corner.
6. This will bring up a warning dialog box if you have anything selected. "Files and Folders are already selected. Would you like to start the wiazard with these selections? Click 'No' to clear these selections before starting the Wizard." You then get the options for "Yes, No, & Cancel." If you want to use your selections click "yes" if you didn't mean to follow my directions then click "Cancel" otherwise click "No".
7. On the "Back up Wizard" home page click "Next".
8. Make your selections, remeber that if you chose "Yes" you will start with those options. Click "Next"
9. On the "Back up Type, Destination, and Name" page choose your location and file name. Click Next.
10. Choose the type of Back up job that you want to do. Options and descriptions below.

  • Normal - Back up selected files, and marks each file as backed up.
  • Copy - Backs up selected files but does not marky any as backed up.
  • Incremental - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup. (You need all Tapes/Backup Files involved to sucessfully restore, makes for a quicker backup, slower recover, more can go wrong due to more tapes involved.)[Example: You Backup Incremental Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to recover from the failure. You also need to recover the server hard drive with each tape in order.]
  • Differential - Backs up selected files only if they were created or modified since the previous backup, but does not mark them as backed up. (You only need the newest/latest tape to restore, makes for a longer back up, but a quicker restore. Since you only need one tape to recover there is less that could go wrong in the recovery process. [Example: You Backup Differential Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and a Normal Backup on Friday. Your server hard drive fails Wednesday after the backup, you need Wednesday's tape/file to recover from the failure.]
  • Daily - Backs up only files that were created or modified today.

11. Select your options (Will vary due to hardware differences)

  • Verify Data After Backup
  • Use hardware compression, if available
  • Disable Volume Shadow Copy

12. Choose to append or replace the media.

13. Set the backup schedule.

Other Resources: Backup Utility Advanced Options, Microsoft Powertoys, Microsoft Synctoy


Anonymous said...

If one has a catastrophic failure of the system and windows goes bad how can one restore the system? I see that the backup makes a single file on the backup drive. Are there some files I also need to collect in order to restore in case I need to wipe my drive and start again with my backup?

Also, I've tried using it to find specific files, but I found it really tough to figure out which of the numerous listings of C: was the most current one so that I could drill down to the specific file I desired. Is there an easy way to tell which is most current?

Steve.Lippert said...

To restore the system you must first re-install Windows. At this point I hope you backup is complete because after the wipe all of the old data is gone.

The restore interface is a little difficult to figure out, but for the one backup I actually use the Backup Utility for it only lists 4 files to use and each file is clearly marked with a date and time.

Specific files within the backup file are also clearly marked. I would suggest you not use the wizard to restore and instead click on the "Restore and Manage Media" tab.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much!