Preparing for Vista Backup and Restore – Part 2 of 2

Happy New Year! 

Last time we finished with using CompletePC to backup the OS partitions/drives as well as work files and left with the question: how do I restore just my data/work drive, just a folder, or even just a file? Today's blog discusses a solution that (I think) is quite satisfactory. Please read on...

Restoring the entire computer:

CompletePC backup/restore does allow restoration of all the backup boot partitions/drives and optionally the individual data partitions/drives. This is the default capability for CompletePC Backup and Restore. If this is what you want, everything you need is built-in.

Restoring a Folder or a File:

As discussed in the last post, CompletePC backup/restore does not allow finer-granularity restoration of a folder or file. Fortunately, there is a solution using a tool called VHDMount which comes with Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 Beta 2. (Don't forget the Beta 2 part!) There are many blogs that describes how VHDMount work and there is no need to rehash the discussion here. Here is a brief description of what VHDMount can do for Vista CompletePC backups:

  • For each partition/drive that is backed up, CompletePC creates a .vhd file in the backup destination

  • VHDMount is a command line tool which takes the .vhd file and "mounts" it as a drive (like M:\)

  • Once the .vhd file is mounted as a drive, you can use Window Explorer (or whatever tools) to copy/restore whichever folder(s) or file(s)

One thing that is a little clumpsy with this technique is that you cannot easily associate which .vhd file to which previously backed up partition/drive by just visual inspection of the file name. The .vhd file name has the format similar to <guid>.vhd - not readily translated to which drive that was backed up.

Here are some links to downloading, installing, and customization of VHDMount.

At this point, I've tried VHDMount to access backed up my partitions/drives and found it to work very well. I am now a happy camper with Vista backup and restore!

That's all I have for Vista Backup and Restore. Have fun!


Comments (5)
  1. Here are some Virtualization news items that caught my attention this week, but haven’t (as of yet) had…

  2. AlDegutis says:

    Found some limitations or possible bugs when trying to use Vista’s Complete PC Restore to restore to a different drive. More here:

    – Al

  3. Terabyte says:


    Sorry, but what a joke.  So let’s really discuss what Vista’s backup is.  It’s a home-user based "tool" that’s so dummied down that for anyone with a few weeks worth of experience quickly finds unusable.

    1) No ability to select what folders I as the computer owner wish to backup.

    2) No security, encryption, or any other way to protect your data.

    3) No way to manually script out backups.

    For example, should I have 250GB worth of already backed up videos and digital photos and another 50GB of already backed up documents (who decides what are documents btw?) on DVDs (burned with Roxio or another tool) that are off-site, but I want to backup 20GB worth of additional files recently created but not yet burned to DVD, I get to backup up 270GB and include 250GB of junk I don’t need backed up.  

    The MS PR machine has tried, though failed, to spin the Vista/Longhorn backup system into a boom but it’s a bust.  Unless you have HUGE external disks to backup your you system, your data isn’t likely to get backed up.  How about on my personal system with dual 500GB disks, I have to provide dual external 500GB disks to have enough room to backup a ton of junk I have no need to backup.

    Sure, full restore is nice, but we’ve been able to do that with Ghost or numerous other apps for 10 years, but now in Vista/LHS you’ve removed our ability to simply backup EVERY file in the C:critial folder.  What a dumb solution.

    I really wish you guys would make nice with Symantec and return ntbackup, even as an add-on, to Vista.  Not just the .bkf restore tool that you said you wouldn’t make, but the entire app including tape drive support (which your restore tool doesn’t work with either).

    This is just one more piece of proof that Vista is a home-user OS with no designs on the professional.

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