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Microsoft utility restores NTBACKUP files in Windows Vista

Prior to Windows Vista, the backup tool used with most versions of Windows was NTBACKUP, a program that was proprietary but still managed to do a decent job of backup. Many people (myself included) relied on it.

However, Windows Vista doesn't include NTBACKUP, so anyone with files saved in NTBACKUP would need to have a copy of XP or earlier to get access to those files. Running NTBACKUP itself on Vista doesn't seem possible due to incompatibilities between NTBACKUP and some of Vista's system components.

The NTBACKUP utility that was available in Windows NT, Windows 2000 and XP allowed users to back up specific files and folders without a hitch — even if it used a proprietary file format only readable by NTBACKUP itself. But NTBACKUP is no longer shipped with Vista. It's easy to see how people who have backups saved in NTBACKUP, or who wanted to continue using it in Vista, would find this irksome.

Thankfully, Microsoft decided to create a

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utility for restoring NTBACKUP files in Windows Vista. Aside from the validation process (which will run even on a copy of Vista that hasn't been activated yet), the program requires nothing extra to get running. All editions of Vista should work with the NTBACKUP restore tool, except possibly for Windows Vista Starter Edition.

Note: This tool requires the Removable Storage Management feature to be enabled in Vista. This feature is not turned on by default. To do this, go to Control Panel | Programs and Features | Turn Windows features on or off, and select Removable Storage Management. The program should also be run as a full administrator whenever possible.

Actually, it is in fact possible to run NTBACKUP itself in Vista, although the only way to do this is by copying the needed files from a working installation of Windows XP. For instance, the NTBACKUP.MSI installer which comes on the Windows XP Home disc does install the program itself but not the needed support files.

Daniel Petri has created a guide that explains how to do this. You'll need to copy the needed files from an XP machine and enable the Removable Storage Management service on Vista. But both tasks require very little work.

Note: You should only use NTBACKUP for backing up files, not the System State or other objects that may not restore in Vista. Also, jobs scheduled through the NTBACKUP scheduler do not seem to run correctly.

If you want to schedule NTBACKUP to run in Vista, you'll need to set up a scheduled job manually through the Task Scheduler and use NTBACKUP's command-line options.

Finally, remember to always run NTBACKUP as administrator, both when you're running it in an interactive way (i.e., through the GUI) and when running it as a scheduled job.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

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