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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Caveat is using NTBackup in Windows 7

Evaluation of several backup utilities to replace the terrible Windows 7 "Backup and Restore" facility has been reported in my previous blog.

The conclusion is that NTBackup, until a more formidable free one comes around, is still the best backup utility. What you need to run this in Windows 7 has been documented here and it also mentions that you can safely disregard a warning message box.

However, the disclosure given fails to mention one very important setting you need to turn off. That is the 'Disable volume shadow copy' in the 'Advanced backup options' dialog box here:

Make sure you check this option otherwise the back up will abort with this message:
Error returned while creating the volume shadow copy:Catastrophic failure

Aborting Backup.
Test of backing a program while still in use seem to be unaffected by this option.


Anonymous said...

Is there anyway to save the tick in the disable shadow copy box?
Currently everytime I start a job I have to go back into advanced and tick the box :(

Anonymous said...

What you don't seem to address is that ntbackup without VSS is a pretty useless utility. It won't backup up files in use, like Outlook .pst (if outlook is running), and you probably won't know it didn't unless you look closely at the log file.

L. Mar said...

What you said is true. But does that automatically making it "pretty useless"?

I hate to differ. As a start, even with PST, you are assuming one is backing up while still using Outlook? All you need is to make sure you are not running Outlook.

All my machines runs in LUA and when I do backup, I simply log off and do my backup runs in a different account. PST is not opened in the Administrator's account even if I am an Outlook user, which I am not.

As for Sql Server, I backup the back up files generated by Sql Server's backup task. They are not in used.

Most of my vital systems run on Virtual Machine (not XP Mode and not MS Virtual PC as VMPlayer rocks even in Windows 7 Home), I simply back them up when they are powered down.

Everything is relative - including "useless". As for Windows 7's Backup and Restore center, that is really damn useless. Here are some of the standard features of a back up tool that Windows 7 does not support:
1) Creating backup jobs for different stuff that you can run at different schedule. If you want to see a one-size fit all, try this 'free' Windows 7 Backup and Restore center generously donated by Microsoft. You have choice - one backup list!

2) Try to backup a folder which is a mount point? No where to be seen.

3) I can't seem to find how to invoke 'Backup and Restore' in Windows 7 from command-line. Is it possible?

You also assume that I have to visual see the log file to find those files in use and not being able to back up. All you need is a script and NTBackup is fully invokable from a script including turning off volume shadow backup.

I don't think not having shadow volume copy is such a big deal. Definitely not worth paying Microsoft extra money as that is against my "paying Microsoft absolutely minimum amount" principle.

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