SharePoint Experts, Information Architects, Expert Witness

SICG provides a broad array of business and technology consulting from architecture to design to deployment of global systems with a focus on surfacing data in the enterprise. We focus on the "How", not just the possible. Contact me direct: or call 704-873-8846 x704.

Search This Blog

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vista Whole Computer Backup Nightmares

I recently had a Vista laptop drive go south on me (one of the Raid channels failed). I struggled a bit but managed to get a full system backup both to disk and to DVD. Note: I HIGHLY suggest you use a separate USB drive - if you backup to CD or DVD, there's no guarantee you'll be able to find the driver to load during a restore!

Laptop returned with a fresh drive and the OEM installation setup (Sony FYI). It took me forever to find out where the "Complete" restore for Vista is - turns out you must actually have the original Vista installation drive, boot from it (you may have change your BIOS settings to do so), go through the starting page (language selection, etc.) then there is where the "Recovery" options are (lower left of the screen).

From the "System Recovery Options" you'll find "Windows Complete PC Restore" - it allows you to find the backup and attempt to do the restore.

Great post for the above: Getting to Vista System Recovery

Not feeling sure, I went ahead and did a whole system backup of the OEM installation - figured it all else failed at least I could get back there then went to the process (with the Vista DVD) to get to the recovery.

I thought I was good to go but wait....

First problem - Couldn't find the backup - it turns out that the DVD driver isn't loaded by the install so can't see it (even though it loaded Vista's install from there - argh!). Unless you have a DVD driver on a disk you are SOL. Fortunately, I had my USB drive backup - I hooked it up and viola, recovery correctly found it.

Oh but there's more...

Attempting to restore to the original system, I got the error "Disk too small" to handle the backup. What? This was the same system - did Sony give me a smaller disk?

I spent quite a while looking for the answers only to find out that every one had the problems I did but no answer - not from anyone (including Microsoft!).

I finally found the key - from the System Recovery there is a link to open a command line window; clicking on this you can access the "WBAdmin" utility; while most documenation around this is centered on Windows 2008, it actually works with Vista too...

The trick is to get the dang syntax straight and matching the correct name with the backup. In my case, the backup was on Drive G (my USB) and I was restoring Drive C. Note that instead of a USB Drive, you can use a network share as in \\server\sharename

First, you have to find the correct backup:

wbadmin get versions

In my case, the above finds nothing so I found out the drive location must be specified:

wbadmin get versions -backupTarget:G:

This got me the version name of the backup on G: - to do the recovery, I used:

wbadmin start recovery -version:10/05/2010-16:31 -itemtype:volume -items:C: -backupTarget:G: -recoverytarget:C:

NOTE: The Version MUST match exactly as 'get versions' shows and you cannot specify a 'path' as the backupTarget (use the drive letter only).

wbadmin start recovery -version:10/05/2010-16:31 -itemtype:volume -items:C: -backupTarget:G: -recoverytarget:C:

Also in my case, I had two different system backups on my USB - this requires you to add the machine name (the one I wanted was called VistaLaptop):

wbadmin start recovery -version:10/05/2010-16:31 -itemtype:volume -items:C: -backupTarget:G: -recoverytarget:C: -machine:VistaLaptop

Viola - after a few seconds, recovery started!

Ah...but we're not done yet - after the restore completed and I restarted, I got a nasty message:

0xc000000E error - unable to locate file \windows\system32\winload.exe

Text told me to reload the original Vista DVD, go through the start up then on the installation page, click the Repair Computer option.

When you do this, you get the System Recovery Options again - this time, I selected "Startup Repair", it seemed to run OK so I clicked Finish (NOTE: Be sure to remove your Vista DVD beforehand as it will automatically reboot on the click).

So again, I thought I was done but no..I tried running it again. No luck..

Finally found a post where they'd used this method:

Start from the DVD
Select your language and keyboard and click next
Select Recovery
Open the Command prompt.
Diskpart> Select Disk=0
Diskpart> Select Partition=1
Diskpart> Active
Diskpart> exit


The post included using BCDEdit to make some changes - I DID NOT DO that; rather, after running the above, I rebooted on the CD and re-ran System Repair found the problem and fixed it!!!

Rebooted and happily running again!

No comments: