Weekly quickTIP

Complete PC Backup = Complicated PC Restore

Feedback on a recent column on Vista backups

A recent quickTIP column on Vista’s Complete PC Backup functionality caused a lot of stir. Quite a few Vista users, to their great consternation, discovered their "Complete PC Backup" backups wouldn’t restore onto replacement hardware.

When a backup was instructed to restore onto a new disk the user would be greeted with this discouraging error message:

Windows Complete PC Restore operation failed.
Error details: There are too few disks on this computer or one or more of the disks is too small. Add or change disks so they match the disks in the backup and try the restore again. (0x80042401)

Reader Al Deguitis, who originally reported the problem, has been working with Microsoft to find a workable solution. According to Al’s blog post at http://professionalinsight.net/vistabackup.aspx, that solution has multiple facets.

First, a drive backed up with Complete PC Backup "can only be restored if the number of drives in the restore PC match the number of drives in the backed up PC and the drives must be of equal or larger size. The size of the drive used to store the backup image does not need to be the same size as the drive being backed up. It just needs to be large enough to hold all of the data…"

He relates an additional problem that some OEM drives have with recovery partitions: If a recovery partition is present in the backed up drive, it will get captured by Complete PC Backup. This means that a partition of equal or larger size for the recovery partition must be present on the restore PC as well.

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To create that partition as well as configure the other volumes for size, you can boot into the Windows recovery environment and choose the diskpart utility. Diskpart allows you to create and resize partitions on an existing disk as well as set the correct partition to primary. Depending on how the backed up PC was configured, this may be necessary to get a good restore ... or, find another, less complicated product.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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