- Using the Microsoft Backup Program
Using the built-in Backup program is the officially recommended method of backing up
Windows registry. The Backup version supplied with Windows NT 4.0 required a
Windows NT-compatible tape device to be installed in the local system, which
represented one of the most serious shortcomings of this utility. Furthermore, the list of
supported tape devices that could be used with Windows NT Backup in Windows NT 4.0
is also quite limited. Moreover, this utility doesn't allow you to perform registry backup
of remote systems, even if the user attempting to perform this operation has all the
required access rights to the remote system.
The Backup version included with Windows 2000 has improved and extended
functionality, including support for various types of backup media. This allows the user
to back up information using any media supported by the operating system, including
floppy disks, hard disks, floptical media, or other supported devices besides streamers.
Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, in turn, provide several new technological
improvements and enhancements.
Note Starting with Windows XP, Microsoft has introduced volume snapshots, a
technology that provides a copy of the original volume at the instant a snapshot is
taken. A snapshot of the volume is taken at the time a backup is initiated. Data are
then backed up from the snapshot rather than from the original volume. The original
volume continues to change as the process goes on, but the snapshot of the volume
remains constant. This is helpful if users need access to files while a backup is
taking place, since it significantly reduces the time required to accomplish the
backup procedure. Additionally, the backup application can back up files that are
kept open. In previous versions of Backup, including the one supplied with
Windows 2000, files open at the time of the backup were skipped.
Besides working with the integrated Backup application, the Volume Shadow Copies
function in Windows Server 2003 provides snapshots ("point in time copies") of files on
network shares. To enable Volume Shadow Copies, right-click a drive or volume in
Windows Explorer or My Computer, select the Properties command, and go to the
Shadow Copies tab (Fig. 2.2). Select a volume from the Select a volume list, then click
Enable and confirm your choice by clicking Yes in the Enable Shadow Copies window.
- Figure 2.2: The Shadow Copies tab of the disk properties window
Note Volume Shadow Copies are enabled only in shared folders, since the feature is
designed primarily for documents, which often happen to be accidentally deleted or
overwritten with other versions. Besides this, it also provides you with version-
checking capabilities while working with documents. However, the usage of this
new feature also has some limitations:
• Client workstations that can benefit from this feature must run the Windows
XP operating system. The client software for Volume Shadow Copies is
located in the \\%systemroot%/system32/clients\twclient directory on the file
server. After installing the twcli32.msi package, clients working with
corporate documents will be provided with the Previous Versions
functionality, allowing them to access shadow copies from their desktops.
This software can be distributed to clients by a variety of means, including
Group Policies, Microsoft Systems Management Server, or another third-
party software management product.
• Shadow copies are read-only, and can be enabled on a per-volume basis.
This means that you can't enable shadow copies on specific shares.
• Saving your work frequently is still the best way to ensure that your work is
not lost. Furthermore, this feature isn't a replacement for regular backup.
- Despite its convenience, the Volume Shadow Copies functionality is not a substitute for
regular backups. To start the Backup utility in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003,
select the All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Backup commands from the
Start menu. If you use this utility often (and you should do so), create a desktop shortcut
for this program.
Note Like in all Windows NT-based systems, in order to backup and restore files, the
user must be assigned appropriate privileges. For example, members of local
Administrators or Backup Operators groups can back up and restore any files on a
local computer. Users whose accounts don't belong to these groups must have at
least read access permissions to the files that they need to back up. For computers
participating in Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003 domains, these abilities are
greatly influenced by Group Policies. Detailed information on this topic will be
provided in Chapters 9 and 10.
Besides the traditional method of starting the Backup utility, you can also start it using
the right-click menu. Open the Windows Explorer or My Computer window, right-
click on the disk that you need to back up, and select the Properties command from the
context menu. A tabbed window will open. Navigate to the Tools tab, click the Backup
Now button in the Backup group, and the Backup or Restore Wizard window will open
(Fig. 2.3). The Backup utility can run in two modes: the wizard mode (in which it starts
by default) and advanced mode, recommended for power users. If you want to change the
default settings, clear the Always start in wizard mode checkbox and select the
Advanced Mode option. The Backup Utility window will appear, opened at the
Welcome tab (Fig. 2.4).
Figure 2.3: The Backup or Restore Wizard window
- Figure 2.4: The Welcome tab of the Backup Utility window
Note Before proceeding with a backup operation, check the file system of the disk you
need to backup. This is important, because you need to have a usable backup copy.
Remember that the backup software (including the Backup tool supplied with
Windows 2000, Windows XP, and products of the Windows Server 2003 family)
can't recognize errors and inconsistencies in user data. Note that the method we just
described provides a convenient way of performing this operation - you simply need
to click the Check Now button on the same tab. You also need to consider the
defragmentation software used to defragment your hard drives. Microsoft
recommends that everyone use the built-in defragmentation software supplied with
the operating system. If you're planning to use a third-party defragmentation utility,
make sure that this software is compatible with Windows Server 2003 and holds the
"designed for Windows" status. Detailed information on software tested for
compatibility with Windows 2000/XP or Windows Server 2003 can be downloaded
One of the most important goals of Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 development
was to create an operating system, which would combine all the advantages of Windows
9x/ME with the traditional strong points of Windows NT/2000. Most of the attention was
paid to tasks such as making the new operating system easy to use even for beginners,
simplifying administrative tasks and making the system more reliable. Most tools and
utilities were rewritten, and the Backup tool is no exception. Besides the traditional
functionality of backing up and restoring data, the new version of this utility supplied
with Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 includes a function for preparing the
Automated System Recovery (ASR). Although Automated System Recovery (ASR)
actually debuted in Windows XP, it is new to Windows Server platform. ASR lets you
backup operating system, system state, and hardware configuration so that they can be
recovered in case of a system emergency. Automated System Recovery is a two-part
recovery system that allows you to restore the operating system states by using files
saved to tape media and hard disk configuration information saved to a floppy disk.
- Note Most experienced users will recall the ERD functionality that existed in Windows
NT/2000. In earlier versions of Windows NT, there was a special Rdisk.exe utility
used to perform this task. Windows 2000 combines the functionality of the Backup
and Rdisk utilities, and in Windows XP/Windows Server 2003, as was already
mentioned, ERD functionality was replaced by ASR.
Preparing for Automated System Recovery
The easiest method of using the Backup program is with the special wizards, which are
similar to all other programs of this type. These wizards display dialogs prompting users
to select options and provide instructions on selecting the options. Normally, these
windows contain the following three buttons: Back, Next, and Cancel. When the user
clicks the Back button, a window appears, allowing the user to correct the data entered
after completing the previous step. To open the next window, the user needs to click the
Next button. To cancel the whole operation, the user needs to click the Cancel button.
This method is the easiest one for novice users who have little or no experience of
working with the system.
Note The materials provided in this section shouldn't be considered a complete
description of the Backup program functionality, and in no circumstances should
these materials be considered as a replacement for the user manual. This book is
intended to describe the system registry. Because of this, this chapter provides only
the most basic information related to using the Backup program for backing up and
restoring the system registry. If you are interested in a detailed description of the
Backup program or step-by-step instructions on performing typical tasks, you can
find this information in the Backup Help system. Any user who intends to edit the
registry should read this information very carefully.
To prepare for Automated System Recovery, proceed as follows:
1. If your computer is equipped with a tape device, prepare the backup media. If this
is not the case, you will have to perform the backup operation on the hard disk.
Therefore, make sure that you have sufficient disk space. In any case, you'll also
need a blank formatted diskette.