Backup Complete Computer

ByLine
How to Create a Complete Computer Backup and Restore Image in Vista
Synopsis
This will show you how to create a Complete Computer Backup and Restore Image. This is only for the Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, and Business versions.
How to Create a Complete Computer Backup and Restore Image in Vista

information   Information
Windows Complete PC Backup creates a backup image, which contains copies of your programs, system settings, and files. The backup image is then stored in a separate location from the original programs, settings, and files. You can use this backup image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working. For more information, see: Windows Help and How-to: Back up your programs, system settings, and files
Note   Note
BACKUP LOCATION:


A) If you want to delete or copy the entire WindowsImageBackup folder to save it to another location to keep a copy of it, you will need to open each subfolder in the WindowsImageBackup folder and grant access permission to them first by clicking Continue twice for eace folder. You will then be able to copy this folder like any other folder. You may want to do this because when a new Complete PC Backup is made it can overwrite the previous Complete PC Backup with the differences to create the new backup.
  • Backups are saved in a folder with this format: (backup drive letter)\WindowsImageBackup\(your computer name)\Backup (year-month-day) (time)
  • If the backup was done on Local Disk D: at 9/7/2007 1:00:50 PM (It uses 24 hour time), then the full backup file path would be:
  • D:\WindowsImageBackup\Computer\Backup 2007-09-07 130050
  • You would right click the folder Backup 2007-09-07 130050 and click Delete to delete that backup.
B) To delete all but the most recent Complete PC Backup, you can use Disk Cleanup. You will just need to select the drive that the complete PC backups are stored on and select the More Options tab.


C) To delete the Complete PC Backup completely, you just need to take ownership of the WindowsImageBackup folder and subfolders. Afterwards, you will be able to delete the folder.
warning   Warning

  • Windows Complete PC Backup is only available in the Vista Enterprise, Ultimate, and Business editions.
  • Vista cannot backup the partition or drive that you are saving the complete backup to.
  • If you dual boot with Windows XP, then everytime you start in XP the System Restore Points and all except the most recent Complete PC Backup files in Vista get deleted. For how, see: How to Stop System Restore Points from being Deleted in Vista when Dual Booting with XP
  • You cannot restore a 32 bit Vista version complete pc backup on a 64 bit Vista version, or the other way around.






Here's How:
1. Open Control Panel. (Classic View)​
2. Click on the Backup and Restore Center icon.​
3. Click on the Back up Computer button. (See screenshot below)​
4. Click on Continue in the UAC prompt.​
Backup_Computer.jpg

5. You will see this for a moment as Vista searches for backup devices. (See screenshot below)​
Looking.jpg

6. Dot the location to save the backup image to. (See screenshot below)​
WARNING: Vista cannot backup the partition or drive that you are saving the complete backup to.​
A) On a Hard Disk: For saving to a different hard drive or partition.​
NOTE: You cannot save the backup image on the same partition as Vista is installed on. It can only be saved on another partition, a separate hard drive, USB device (external hard drive), or on multiple DVDs. If you wish to create a new partition for backups, then see: How to Shrink and Create a Partition with Disk Management in Vista
B) On One or More DVDs: For saving to multiple DVDs that are bigger than 1 GB in size each.​
C) Click on Next.​
Choose_Location.jpg


7. Click Start backup to confirm the backup settings and start the backup process. (See screenshots below)​
NOTE: This will tell you how much space will be used on the other hard drive, or how many DVDs it will take.
WARNING: If you have a previous complete PC backup in this location, this complete backup will only backup the differences between now and when the previous backup was made. (See the right screenshot below)​
Confirm_Backup.jpg Previous_Backup.jpg

8. You will now see this window. (See screenshot below)​
Preparing.jpg

9. If you selected On One or More DVDs (step 6), then this window will pop-up asking for the first DVD. (See screenshot below)​
A) Insert a blank DVD into the DVD drive and click on OK.​
NOTE: It will continue to ask for DVDs until it is finished. See step 7 to see how many DVDs will be required.
Insert_Disk.jpg


10. When the backup is completed it will let you know. Click on Close.​
11. Close the Control Panel window.​
That's it,
Shawn


 
Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink

Comments

Hello RW Clark, and welcome to Vista Forums.

What did the failure error message say?

You can regain the space back by deleting the WindowsImageBackup folder. The NOTE box at the top of the tutorial can help show you more on where and how to this.
 
Hello RW Clark, and welcome to Vista Forums.

What did the failure error message say?

You can regain the space back by deleting the WindowsImageBackup folder. The NOTE box at the top of the tutorial can help show you more on where and how to this.
Thank You Brink,

I did recover space as per instructions.

I did a successful backup that failed twice previously.

As for those former error messages, I wasn't observing the operation and the failures were attended by re-boots.

Before the space recovery and subsequent back-up, I cleaned the registry with CCleaner (current version). How much this was a "hail Mary" is anyone's guess.
 
You're most welcome RW. I'm happy to hear that you got your space back and was able to create a new backup. :)
 
Brink How do i back up to an external hard drive?? Maybe this is a silly question ?
I've just got laptop back after a hdd fail, think i'd feel safer with external! llol
 
Hello Marshal, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Not at all silly. You should be able to turn on and connect the external HDD (ex: via USB or eSATA) to your computer, then do the steps in the tutorial to create a system image backup on it. When you get to step 6, you would select "On a hard disk" and the external HDD.

Hope this helps,
Shawn
 
I hate to bump an old topic, but you seem active still years after it was originally posted so I'm going to gamble and ask a few questions in hope you can shed some light on this process for me.

If I were to completely wipe the C: drive of any trace of Vista Ultimate, then clean install Windows 7 onto my laptop then decide later to wipe Windows 7 off of said laptop and clean install Vista Ultimate, would recovery disks speed up the process?

Let me clarify. I would only use the recovery disks on the computer they were made for as you made it clear in several of your posts, they're only good for the hardware they were made for.

Can I use the recovery disks to restore the OS even with no trace of Vista on it? Or do I need to use the Microsoft disk I have to install the OS first then run the recovery disks to avoid the tedious process of installing hours and hours worth of Windows Updates?

I have a few more questions, but I'm not sure what they are yet! :confused: Thank you so much for the incredibly easy to follow tutorial though, you have a fantastic way with words and grabbing timely screen grabs, this was a very painless process.

Edit:

I don't know if it's relevant to my questions, but I backed it up with DVDs.
 
Last edited:
Hello Nick, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Yes, creating a system image would be an easy way to restore the OS by doing a system image recovery when wanted.

However, I would strongly recommend to save the system image to a separate hard drive than the OS is going to be installed on instead of saving the system image to DVDs. DVDs are notorious about being unreliable for this. Not to mention how many DVDs it could take.

Hope this helps, :)
Shawn
 
Hello Nick, and welcome to Vista Forums.

Yes, creating a system image would be an easy way to restore the OS by doing a system image recovery when wanted.

However, I would strongly recommend to save the system image to a separate hard drive than the OS is going to be installed on instead of saving the system image to DVDs. DVDs are notorious about being unreliable for this. Not to mention how many DVDs it could take.

Hope this helps, :)
Shawn
Thank you Shawn. Hope your Friday flys by.
 
Yes, creating a system image would be an easy way to restore the OS by doing a system image recovery when wanted.

However, I would strongly recommend to save the system image to a separate hard drive than the OS is going to be installed on instead of saving the system image to DVDs. DVDs are notorious about being unreliable for this. Not to mention how many DVDs it could take.
So I decided, since I had time to waste apparently, I'd wipe the C: drive of any trace of an OS and then put the disks to the test. They failed, just like you said they would, haha.

I have a flash drive, but it's only a 16gb one. I formatted it, then tried to use it to create a system recovery image but I think it's to small.

Or is it that it's just a flash drive and that's not applicable for this process?

Would you recommend me grabbing a 32gb flash drive and using that, instead?
 
The size needed would depend on the size of the data on the system drives included in the system image.

Personally, I would not recommend to save a system image to anything other than a hard drive.
 
Okay. I hate to ask a silly question, but a hard drive would be what's inside the computer, right? Other than the hard drive that came with this laptop, there isn't one to save it to. It's also pretty small, as this laptop is a tad dated and the internal hard drive only has 54.4gb usable.

I do happen to have a few external 1tb usb hard drives, but they all have movies on them. Would I have to wipe the files on them and use them solely for the back up image, or could I continue to use the free space on them to hold my films? Or is using them even an option?

Worst case scenario, I could always just simply clean install the OS system and then spend a few days installing all the security updates, but dang that takes forever haha.
 
Not a silly question at all. :)

Yep, a hard drive could be an internal (inside computer) or external.

If the external hard drive has a NTFS file system and not FAT32, then you could select it to save the system image on. You do not need to wipe the external hard drive, and can continue using it as you currently are afterwards.

You can check in Disk Management (diskmgmt.msc) to see if the hard drive is NTFS or FAT32 like below.


Disk_Management_File_System.jpg
 
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