On my post about restoring with Windows Home Server, Bill Tudor had an excellent comment that I felt everyone needed to read concerning backup and restore:

Don’t overlook the build-in image-based backup available in the better SKU’s of Vista and Win7. It took me less than 10 minutes to recover a machine when replacing a hard drive using nothing more than the tools that come with Vista/7 Ultimate edition. The differences from WHS are that:

– I had to setup network storage location for the images

– I created a scheduled task to light-off the backups since the built-in tools backup way too often for me (I like weekly for an entire computer image; plenty often for me).

– My images are all completely separate per machine; I think WHS does something special here to optimize what is actually stored so that the same file(s) on different machines are only backed up once.

Other than that, it’s the same stuff and built-into the OS.

I have noticed that:

+ Many people do not have the capable SKUs and are therefore unaware of the feature

+ Many people don’t trust it.

Well, take it from me – you can trust it. I have 7 machines in the house, all with image backups. I have recovered a notebook, desktop, and my single domain controller (what a trip that last one was!).


p style=”margin-left:36pt”>Now, I’m not going to compare the simplicity of WHS to manually doing things, yourself. But I am amazed at how few people know the capabilities built right into their OS.

For those of you who don’t have a Windows Home Server, Bill is exactly right in that the System Image backup is excellent. One of the problems on Vista was that it only supported backing up to and restoring from local hard drives or DVDs. You could use the command line version of the tool, WBADMIN, to force the storage to a network location, but it was up to you to get the image to the machine for the restore.

The good news is that Windows 7 (Premium and Ultimate editions only) now supports saving the system image to a network location directly from the GUI. The other good news is that it looks like the image backup will be in all editions of Windows 7

Between Windows Home Server or the System Image built into the OS, you should be completely covered. Really, there’s no excuse for not backing up any more.