Will Microsoft Backup Ever REALLY Work?

Posted on 2006-04-12
Last Modified: 2010-04-18
I am currently using the backup utility in Windows 2003 Server to backup a series of PCs.  Nightly jobs run which
1) Map a machine's C drive to a particular drive letter
2) Run a full backup of the mapped drive
3) Disconnect the drive.

I have found this utility useful for recovering data files and settings.  However, the last few times I have attempted to recover entire machines, the recovered drives from backup always fail to come up due to windows OS issues.

Are there any settings or tricks to get the Windows backup utility to FULLY be able to backup and subsequently restore a system drive (aka "C" drive.)

Am I kidding myself that this is an effective solution?

Tonight's Case:
Failed hard drive was replaced.  Used external USB case to attach new drive to W2K3 Server.  Used recent backup file and recovered all files onto the new drive.  Checked permissions on files and everything was OK.  Installed drive in the user machine and began boot process.  Received errors like "***.dll is not a valid Windows image."  The system will not come up.  Even if the dlls that are giving the errors are manually replaced with the pristine ones, the system locks up with no warnings (safe mode too.)  Therefore, in my opinion, the Windows backup is NOT providing me with a full system backup and thus a false sense of security.
Question by:the_griz
    LVL 15

    Accepted Solution

    With NTBackup you can't backup the System State on a remote machine. All you can do is backup the files from a mapped share, as you're currently doing, which isn't enough to be able to restore a working machine.

    Commercial backup programs like ArcServe and Backup Exec have Agents that allow you to backup everything on remote machines. These can cost a fair bit though.

    One way around this is to setup NTBackup jobs on each of the PC's that backup to a file (either on the PC, or to a file on a share on a Server), and then set up the backup server to backup these files to tape (or wherever you backup your files to). Because the PC's are running NTbackup, they'll be able to backup the System State (just make sure that its selected in the backup job), so you'll be able to use those backups to restore a working machine.
    LVL 15

    Expert Comment

    An alternative to using a backup program is to use a disk imaging product to take images of the disks in machines. For disaster recovery purposes, imaging products are often better than backup products. Have a look at the products on
    LVL 21

    Expert Comment

    I agree with Darwinian999 for workstations.  Imaging products (like ghost are much better to be able to restore the entire system.  

    Also you should train your users to store documents on server shares such as their home directories and back them up daily to tape.  We have had a long standing policy of not recovering any files that were stored on the user's workstation.  They are all directed to store files on their home directories and use offline files and folders if they are a mobile user.

    For server backups you would be much better off with an enterprise solution like CA's Arcserve or Veteras' Backup Exec.  May cost you a little more up front, but nothing is more important than a good backup.

    Hope this helps!

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