I’ve written before about installing Vista x64 on a Mac Pro and how it’s the best Windows machine money can buy. Turns out I wasn’t the only one who wanted to beauty, stability, and lack of vendor crapware on my computer as my post is one of the biggest trafficked items on the whole Wintellect site.

While the Mac Pro is nearly perfect, one area that’s missing when running Vista is backup software. I tried Acronis’ TrueImage Workstation, which I used for all my other machines, but it does not support Apple hardware. I wasn’t too surprised that Acronis didn’t work as there’s some serious magic going on with the Acronis software and the mixture of OS X and Vista hard drives would throw nearly anything for a loop. What I really wanted to use was Vista’s Complete PC Backup and Restore.

Unfortunately, you have to have a separate physical disk for Complete PC Backup and Restore. Since Boot Camp only discusses using a single drive, I figured there was no way I was going to fake out the Apple BIOS to let me have a drive with no OS on it and usable only from Vista. While I could have added a FireWire or USB external drive, I didn’t have one of those.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I decided put the extra internal drive in the Mac Pro to see if I could get it recognized by Vista. It took all of three seconds to get it to work! I installed the drive and booted in OS X 10.5 (Yes, Leopard rocks!). Starting the Boot Camp assistant, I told it I wanted to install the OS on the new drive. When it prompted to reboot, I booted into my existing Vista x64 partition.

Starting Disk Management, I was greeted with my Disk 1, which is the drive I had just installed, showing as unformatted and having a GPT Protective Partition. As that’s the same partition type used for the current x64 partition, I was pleasantly surprised. I went for it and formatted the new disk to NTFS and assigned it the E: drive letter. Disk Management showed the following:

What I thought was interesting is that in OS X, I have RAID 0 set up on the first two drives, which are shown in Disk Management as Disk 0 and Disk 2. I wasn’t too concerned as OS X is running fine and I obviously haven’t had any problems with Vista.

While formatting a drive and assigning it a drive letter is the easy step, I wanted to see if I could actually use that drive so I ran all sorts of disk tests and copied and compared hundreds of gigabytes of files. Everything worked great! I ran a backup and the drive was perfectly recognized by Complete PC Backup and Restore:

Booting off the x64 DVD, I went into the PC Complete Restore options and checked if the disk was visible after doing a backup. While the drive is reported as D:, it listed the correct time and date of the last backup. I haven’t gone through a complete restore yet, but I have a lot of confidence that the restore will work just fine.

The last thing I wanted to check was what OS X and the machine would report for the disk, which was now formatted for Vista. In OS X, the new drive does not appear at all on the machine. Even more impressive, in the Option key menu, which you hold down when starting to pick the drive to boot from, the drive is not shown either.