back to article Windows 7 Backup gets users' backs up

Windows 7 Backup is getting trashed in a Microsoft forum for being unbelievably bad and stupefyingly slow. Users are posting stories that should defy belief. Jon Hell posted on April 23 that he is backing up 900GB of data on a quad core PC with 7GB of RAM; "After twenty four hours Windows Backup had managed to complete 18 per …


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  1. ZenCoder

    They need to fix this.

    Bundling an unreliable backup is worse than no backup at all since it gives users the false impression that their data is safe.

    There is an abundance of excellent backup software available. Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies or licensed a feature limited version of their technology.

    Personally I keep my OS and my documents on separate partitions and use Acronis True Image to backup my OS, and the free version of SyncBack to handle my documents. If you want a 100% free solution you can replace True Image with Macrium Reflect.

    If I had more advanced backup needs I would go with ReBit or Retropect.

    Roxio/Sonic just bought retrospect, maybe Microsoft should have bought them instead.

    1. UBfusion
      Thumb Down

      No way!

      "Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies"

      Hell no - we (users and developers) are all grateful that Microsoft did not ever include any 'good enough for the job' utility or system maintenance tool with their operating systems. If they did, there would have been no incentive to produce freeware tools like Firefox, Winamp, Total Commander, Auslogics defrag, Tweaknow, Irfanview, DriveImage XML (the latter is an awesome backup tool) etc. without which it's impossible to use Windows in an effective way. In addition, if MS did produce decent tools, this would pull the rag under big software companies' feet. Could you imagine what would have happened if MS had included a (free) PDF reader and writer in Windows 3.11? Or a free office suite?

      The only thing MS got right was Sysinternal Tools, and my guess is that they hired the man because otherwise MS developers would be very embarrassed to admit publicly they are using non-MS tools to troubleshoot their own OS problems. Now they can just proudly tell users 'use our (Sysinternals) tools and see what' wrong'.

      To be honest, while I'm still locked into Windows since 3.0 due to job demands, I do not trust *any* of the Windows-provided tools, except perhaps checkdisk and emptying the Trash Can.

      1. Lionel Baden

        retarded comment

        If they had included a working backup nobody would create a different one !!

        WTF just to take three of your examples

        e.g. winamp, total commander & internet explorer

        Funnily enough windows comes with a file browser & media player

        And slap me silly and call me susan there exists winamp, total commander & Firefox and a plethora of other media file browsing and browsers !!!!

      2. Basic

        a title

        That would be Sysinternals which wasn't originally an MS company but was bought by MS after they started churning out some fantastic tools?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I have a theory ...

    Maybe Microsoft has decided to leave it crippled so they don't get sued by suppliers of proper backup software for using their market position to unfair advantage.

  3. heyrick Silver badge

    Stupifyingly slow

    Never tried Windows backup on any version I've used; however for what it is worth I don't tend to look forward to patch Tuesday as the only thing XP's system update is quick about is asking to be rebooted. It is as slow as treacle in Siberia.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Royal Mail

    The CTA of Royal Mail is complaining about this? How is he even CTA if he even considers such a product for data backup in the FIRST place??

    No wonder RM are so fecked.

    (posting anonymously for a very good reason)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The CTA of Royal Mail...

      should have better things to do with his time than post on Microsoft forums. He should also be well used to documents and packages being irrevocably lost. God knows, I am....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Royal Mail

      Maybe because Royal Mail look for more in their candidates for senior positions than their choice of backup software?

      If you think they're wrong, next time you're up for an interview for, well, any job, chuck it in at the end that you use x backup software for your 2TB of porn, see how far it helps you.


  5. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Image Backup

    I found a very decent and inexpensive replacement for Acronis a short while ago, and it is made in the UK - Highly recommended, it's fast, and if I haven't mentioned it already it's inexpensive. And something which the UK can be justly proud of.

    Paris because when you suggest something to be proud of you really need to provide a balanced example.

  6. Robert E A Harvey

    Not the first time

    I used to use NTbackup to save the state of my XP machine. It typically took around 18 hours.

    Using Ubuntu's simple backup took around 90 minutes. The data was substantially the same: an operating system, a slack handful of applications, and the same big bucket of photos and music.

    Now for XP I use robocopy to make a file-by-file image, and sod the OS. Takes around 4 hours.

    1. Adam Williamson 1


      I think Ubuntu's default config backs up your /home directory and /etc, not the entire OS.

  7. Edward 2
    Thumb Up


    Works beautifully for me -- maintenance-free automatic backup to an external hard disk.

    That said, my system drive is an SSD, and all the data is on a secondary hard disk, so I'm probably hitting the sweet spot.

  8. pootle
    Jobs Horns

    What did you expect?

    When you get a freebie in the cornflake packet, it is generally cheap and nasty. This jokeup software is a freebie as far as MS are concerned. Is anyone going to stop buying Windows because the builtin backup is a joke? No, I thought not....

    Of course the fact that the previous conrflake packet gift was actually quite good was completely accidental and judged by management to be a serious mistake and MUST NOT BE REPEATED.

    Time to buy an expensive and painful 3rd party backup solution then?

    1. Paul Landon


      MS Backup does not work at all on Vista,

      not Home, Premium, Business nor Ultimate versions.

      Be aware that whilst it appears to work and gives a "Backup Successful" message, when you need to Restore you discover that it hasn't backed up many files such as .cfg .ini and many other files necessary for your apps to run, your music to play, or to view your photos arranged and captioned in albums or to view past email msgs.

      In the UK if a product is not "suitable for purpose" you can ask for your money back, and I recommend this step.

  9. Lewis Mettler 1

    that is what a monopoly can do

    Sounds simple but so true.

    Microsoft is so much more concerned about making sure everyone has to purchase IE.

    Making the monopoly product better or even workable is simply not considered.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Get a life...

      "Microsoft is so much more concerned about making sure everyone has to purchase IE."

      Hands up all those that paid for i.e? Thought not.

      Same as those that "paid" for solitaire, calculator, notepad, lightsout, network connectivity, file browser and a f88King desktop image.

      TYou're just a troll who likes to appear tough so his pasty mates think he's cool.

      Get a life, get over yourself. if you don't want i.e., don't fucking use it or buy Windows, you have a fucking choice. You'll have to get use to making choices for yourself, as one day, mummy won't be there to hold your hand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I think you need to get a life Anonymous Coward.

        When you buy the operating system you also buy IE. It doesn't come free. Ok, you can get a free download from Microsofts website but the fact is you still paid for the original copy, just that the price was built into the cost of the 'operating system'.

        The same goes for Solitaire, Calculator etc. If these were not included but came as a free download then yes, they would be free, but as they are built into the product at install time then they are not free but are part of the cost of the operating system.

        Why are Microsoftees so thick that they cannot understand this? Why do you have to defend Microsoft so much?

      2. mikebartnz

        @AC 23rd June 2010 09:40 GMT : Wrong

        Do you really think that when you pay for Windows (whether on a new PC buy or the full product) you are not paying all those programs you mention.

  10. Alex 0.1

    Big data sets only

    As Microsoft pointed out, performance issues do only seem to exist on very big data sets - Granted that the scheduling and configuration flexibility of the backup software is woefully dreadful and horribly confusing almost to the point of uselessness to a home user, especially where the differences between backup types are concerned, but speeds for a "regular" sized backup are nothing really to worry about.

    I currently use the backup tool to generate a weekly file backup and system image, the system image totals about 130GB and the total size of the file backup is about 30GB (though as it's incremental there's maybe 1GB of changes on average week by week) and the total process takes a couple of hours, and that's writing the 130GB of system image and 1GB of incremental file changes over a 100mbit network to a set of slow raid5 disks.

    1. mego

      Big Data Sets

      Ok, I'll bite. Thing is, 200Gb today is not a bit dataset.. even netbooks are getting setup with 160Gb drives, and they're not meant to do anything much.

      In the era of 1Tb drives being the norm, 200Gb is not large by half.

      1. Alex 0.1

        Biting back..

        Just to bite back, though - The windows backup tool is, whether the rest of us like it or not, aimed primarily at home users, and aimed at backing up the operating system disk/partition in a machine.

        In most cases, users tend to fall into either 1) a user that doesnt actually have much (<150GB) on their machine's only disk, regardless of how big it is, or 2) has lots of stuff, most of which is stored on a non-os disk, with the system disk/partition being, again, probably <150GB. User type 3 that has tons and tons of stuff floating round (>300gb), *and* has it all stuffed onto the same disk as the os, is, in my experience, fairly uncommon.

        1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

          Home OEM drive config

          Au contraire, having everything on C: is the default configuration.

          Even if the OEM has partitioned the main drive into C: and D:, "My Documents" (or "Documents" for VIsta-tards) is in the usual place on the system drive. Some less-well-written software gets upset if the user home directory isn't on the system drive.

          So, in this scenario, the user's digital photos, music, and home videos end up on the system drive, and D: remains empty.

          While MS don't have to provide a fully-functional, configurable backup system, they are just being careless if they don't provide some kind of one-click backup that works for the unclued.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It is an insult."

    has to be the most polite complaint about shoddy software I have ever seen in an online forum

  12. Fuzz


    I've not used Windows 7 backup but on other disk to disk backup solutions I've used I find that using a basic level of compression actually speeds up the backup as the amount of data that needs to be transferred and written to disk is reduced and this increase far outweighs the processor time required to compress the data. This is especially true for backups performed across the network.

    1. SleepGuy
      Thumb Up


      I use Acronis regularly and have noticed that setting compression to HIGH results in faster backups & restores, not the other way around as M$ is claiming. With the fast processors in today's PC's, on-the-fly compression is nothing...especially when writing to a USB or Networked drive!

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Pretty slow!

    Regarding compressions lowing down backups.. well, that's pretty slow though! This guy with the 900GB backup started out (at the fast point) at about 2MB/sec. I can beat that on my Athlon XP 1800+, while using bzip2, which is know as a VERY slow compressor (there are compressors that'd be MUCH better suited for backups, and should most likely be disk I/O limited, and perhaps actually INCREASE backup speeds if the disk you are writing to writes slower than the read disk). Plus with quad cores, could the backup software not crunch on four files at once? Finally, it seems like poor design that larger data sets would slow it down -- I mean, obviously, twice the data might take twice as long, but it seems that Microsoft, and users, are saying the MB/sec drops off precipitously as the data set to be backed up increases in size. This isn't good.

  14. chainman

    Push to Cloud?

    Could this be part of a strategy to push users to "The Cloud" esp. the MS version?

    "Don't worry. We'll back you up automagically!"

    This does however point out the difficulty of having the extremely large partitions which 1TB+ drives make possible. Recently I've found myself leaning toward smaller primary partitions and placing very large datasets on separate volumes. Might note that I'm an Acronis user.

    1. uninventiveheart


      Automagically rarely comes along with "free" in the legitimate business world. I doubt Microsoft would let users backup to a cloud service, even with ad-supported service.

      I think that most Microsoft developers make the same assumptions about their customers: make a copy of your personal folders and leave it at that... If your system goes belly up, reformat, reinstall Windows, reinstall programs and copy your personal folders back to the hard drive. (Yes, I know people like to not do this. I'm one of them.) Makes sense when they lock user permissions to prevent people from writing files to the main directory of the C: drive or Program Files, even if they're administrators. (Permission denied? I'm the Administrator, how much more permission do I need?!)

      Most sensible thing for Microsoft to do? Get rid of the Backup program completely (which has been a joke since Windows 95) and tell users to go buy one. At least users aren't hoodwinked into thinking that the included one will work when it clearly doesn't.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I must be like a bee that doesn't know it can't fly, then.

    I back my internal drives up to an external USB disk automatically, once a week, using windows backup and windows scheduler- imaging the system disk, and backing the other (larger) one normally.

    It has never been a problem, the first backup took a little longer, but I just went to sleep and it was done in the morning. I also got an involuntary chance to test the backups when my system drive carked out... booted from the Win7 DVD and was back up and running on the new disk in no time.

    Still, there are always boundary cases, and this IS Microsoft we're talking about..

  16. tom 24
    Thumb Down

    Compression slowing things down? Not.

    "Windows 7 Backup does compressed backups, which extends backup time compared to file copying..."

    Only if you're still running Windows on a 286. On modern hardware it should make backups go faster, because disk I/O is the major bottleneck on backups. Unless they're doing some sort of super mega hardcore compression, this is not a factor.

  17. The Unexpected Bill

    Windows Backup

    Well, why don't I start with the bit that makes steam come out of my ears--the first reply in that thread from Microsoft? Now come on. Did that person even READ the original post? It DOES NOT MATTER how many "improvements" you made to a given program if it still doesn't generally work.

    Okay...with that out of my system...I'm better now.

    I know that at one time, Microsoft knew how to put backup functionality into Windows. Of course, they usually farmed it out to someone else, so maybe that is why it worked as well as it did?

    NTBACKUP as provided in Windows NT 4, 2000 and XP has never failed me once...across disparate media types, full or partial always Just Worked.

    Perhaps a little more surprisingly, so too did the M$-provided backup tool in Windows 98SE. I used it to do a number of partial restores before upgrading the hard drive in my then-daily-driver Compaq LTE 5000 laptop from a 3GB to a 12GB unit (those were the days...). I took a full backup, swapped the hard drives, reinstalled and updated Windows 98 and then I restored my fully backup.

    One reboot later, it was just like I'd never left. Office 2000 was a little uppity, but it was nothing that a quick repair to the installation could not fix.

    If I had to time or desire, I'd love to see if Windows 7 or Vista could do as well. The result might well be surprising.

    Somewhere in here should probably be a suggestion that those who wish to backup their data should invest a little thought and time into what the best process is for them. A well thought out backup system will, in my view, work better than a point-n-go one...

  18. John Ridley
    Thumb Down

    It's always been rubbish

    I never tried Vista backup, but I gave up on Windows backup many many years ago, when they changed the format of the backup completely on every new version of windows, so that you couldn't back up your system, install the new OS, and restore your data. I think this is because they never actually wrote their own, they just bought a license to a crappy cut down version of some other backup program, and switched vendors with every new release.

    Windows backup is for people who...Oh, heck, I don't even know. It's for nobody. Anyone who has data worth backing up should use something else.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No big datasets for you?

    Obligatory observation: Even micros~1 doesn't believe in using their products for Real Work. Apparently.

    There are numerous third party solutions, the simplest of which might be running clonezilla (free) possibly from a pxe boot image. Admittedly more of a "bigger hammer" approach, but at least you're reasonably certain taking the image will take bounded time and the image will restore too.

  20. Sly

    Comodo backup

    use this. ditch microsoft. comodo is free as well and actually works.

    @M$ try this on for size... one long vacation (or several short ones) and an HD camcorder and you can easily get 100-200 gigs of home movie footage to play with. You would expect the user would want to back up those memories, but the data set becomes increasingly too large to store in a timely manner. I know of no person with the patience to schedule a weekly backup only to have the initial backup take 2-3 weeks to complete, leaving the computer essentially useless during that time. Stop smoking crack and try actually working on this POS software. I'm actually strting to miss Windows XP all over again. Linux is looking much better every day (and is already on a few x64 computers due to some of these "Vista" issues).

  21. Kevin Reader
    Paris Hilton

    I give a vote for Areca Backup

    After hunting around for file level backup technology that would work across anything from antique windows to the latest thing, I would recommend ARECA Backup, free and open sauce. This is Java based so I can't reliably claim for its raw speed. It will even run on windows ME (or 98) with JRE-1-5-0-22 although classically the installer fails on pre-XP setups! Simply install the zip version instead!

    On the micro$soft "solution" I suppose it could be worse, they might have failed to implement the "restore" function. Although as almost no-one has completed a backup...?

    Paris - cos even she takes an acceptable image, and most commentards would rapidly be completely spent in her presence.

  22. Smelly Socks
    Paris Hilton


    at least get your spelling right: "Worst. Thing. EVAR."

    Paris, because she wouldn't spell it wrong.


  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut down commercial product?

    "Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies or licensed a feature limited version of their technology."

    That's how it works in Windows 2000 (the most recent one i have) - a cut down commercial product, which also reduces the aforementioned chance of an anti-trust suit.

    Is it home grown in Windows 7? Maybe something they got a trainee to write for Windows Home Server when they'd finished on the file system bugs?

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      they finished ...

      ... on the file system bugs?

  24. David Simpson 1

    900 Gigs ?

    Anyone using Windows backup to save 900 GB of data needs their head read.

    It's a consumer product and a compression based backup will crawl with that amount of data, just make disk images or get a RAID set up if your 900GB of files are so important.

    Personally I've always used Acronis, I use it for customer backups and while there may be faster products out there Acronis is rock solid for reliability.

    1. JaimieV

      RAID is not backup.

      I'll say that again. RAID is not backup.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    It's when I hear nonsense like this ...

    I wonder just what WAS wrong again with: tar pzcvf backup.tgz .

    Or similar.

    1. Chemist

      Re : It's when I hear nonsense like this ...

      Certainly when I had a Windows partition I used to back it up from a Linux partition

  26. Tom Maddox Silver badge


    After reading this article, I popped into the Backup application to check out its behavior. Turns out the network share to which I was backing up my data was no longer accessible since I changed my network password. No big deal, except that I'm on a domain, and Windows Backup should use my AD credentials, AND it never notified me that my backups were failing. Add my vote for this software being a POS.

  27. Anonymous Coward


    ....If you're going to use Microsoft in-built software for your back-up rather than buy decent back-up software you deserve all the hassle you can get

  28. Mr Young

    Yes, I remember Windows backup utilities

    Last time I tried that nonsense I blamed my box of Floppy Disks! Sounds like it's still a piece of shit?

  29. Doug Glass


    Works fine for me. I have a rather simple installation with a few tweaks to make it run acceptably well on an AMD XP3200+ socket A CPU. Video card holds performance to 3.2 but I'm not a gamer. Four GB RAM may help; mine takes maybe twenty minutes or so to B/U to a third internal HDD and that's all the data I can force it to backup. Runs in background and even on the ancient CPU performance is not degraded noticibly.

  30. Jason Rivers

    hahahaha *ahem*

    well... what can I say. MS backup when I had windows some many years ago. I tend to find rsync on Linux works quite well, allowing full, incremental, and if you shut down your machine and start it up, backups can continue to work and carry one from where they left off.... I wouldn't expect any less from a backup...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As a storage person, I'm not sure what I think about this one... On the one hand using compression on any backups cripples the performance (use hardware compression at your tape drive, if you have tape!) and if the software is sooo slooowwww there is obviously a problem. However, on the other hand, if the problem is only with such really large datasets you are either using a consumer product for a professional task, or you've got a seriously stable filesystem (such as photos, mp3s, videos, tv recordings etc).

    Now, if you have that sort of system, just backup your OS drive with MS Backup and robocopy everything else. I'm guessing that people with such massive datasets would be fairly IT literate and therefore capable of writing a robocopy script.

    Of course, if you had an LTO-4 drive and NetBackup...

  32. SleepGuy

    It's definitely a piece of crap

    The Win7 backup utility is horrendous. It is dog slow. Features do NOT work (set it to "overwrite" previous backups and it doesn't) as advertised. I have messed with it and messed with it....give me NTBACKUP any day over this steaming pile!

  33. RW

    Very old news

    Back in the day, when MS released Win95, it couldn't read backups created under DOS 6, which itself underlay Win3.1 in its various manifestations.

    That MS should once again mess up backup comes as no surprise at all.

    Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  34. Majid

    Classic programmers testing error.

    Did you test your code? yeah look I'll show you here, I'll backup this directory (takes his 20k test directory). and now I restore it.. Diff it.. voila its the same. My code works.

    It is pretty clear noone at Microsoft ever tried it with any serious partition/directory sizes (lets say 10 TB) or they would still have been waiting for the result. So Win 7 could not have shipped.

    Not tested meant by definition it doesn't work.. (Murphy's adjusted law.. )

  35. chort
    Jobs Halo

    Time Machine works great :)

    Simply plug-in a blank drive, OS X asks you if you would like to use it for back-ups, click through 2 or so dialogs, and bingo, regular back-ups down to the hour. Restoring files and complete system images works great (have used both features).

    How could Microsoft possibly fail so badly when there are many great references implementations available?

    1. Player_16
      Gates Horns

      How could Microsoft possibly fail so badly? Well...

      Because they copy and think they can do better. You'd think such a large business that deals in/with business would have a business solution. It sounds like MS took a personal program (Home edition - average 150G) and stuck it in a business program (Premium) -duh! That blows that 150G out of the water...

      'Will this be used for Home or a Business - YES or NO ?' (Typical MS speak - How stupid)

      Also with OS X, you get to pick-&-choose what to back up. The first day (or new) back-up always takes long, after that, piece-o-cake.

    2. jeffo

      re: Time Machine works great :)

      I agree chort and it's good to say it to all the Apple bashers you get on this forum.

    3. Mikey 1

      I was pleasantly surprised

      Having previously always used third party backup applications myself.

      I had never quite got around to sorting out my old man until Time Machine in Snow Leopard. A while after upgrading dad's wee 4 year old Macbook from 10.4 to 10.6, his hard drive failed. I reinstalled the OS on a new drive (and bigger, hey why not), and with some trepidation clicked 'Restore from Time Machine backup'.

      Fancy that, he said, it looks just like the old one. Which it did.

      This may of course have as much to do with the migration assistant as TimeMachine itself. My own upgrade to Snow Leopard from Leopard was a fresh install on a new hard drive with the old Tiger drive in a USB external case. Again with some caution I used the migration assistant after installation and lo and behold essentially all that changed was my wallpaper, and a few apps such as CyberDuck wouldn't work (which I was aware of).

      I've not had a terribly longtime with the MacOS X, a few years, but moving to a new machine or hard drive and not having to install a dozen third party applications all over again was rather pleasant.

      And yes, I'm fully aware some suffer with this Jobsian OS as much as any other OS. The early Leopard point releases were especially tiresome by all accounts.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Good but not perfect

      Yes TM is good I rely on it, however encrypted home folders on OSX are a P.I.T.A. with TM!

      You have to log out and then Time Machine will backup a bloody great huge virtual encrypted container. Woe betide you if you need to restore an encrypted home folder onto another system, lots of command line work to open and mount the enc-container to get your stuff out, of course assumes you remember the master password for the enc-container!

  36. Stuart Duel

    But how and to where...

    ...are many of these people backing up their systems? They wouldn't be attempting to transfer 1TB of data over WIFI to a USB attached hard drive by any chance? Because with all fairness to Microsoft, that data funnel would absolutely choke under that load. Plus, not only are you copying, but also analysing, compressing and verifying as you go. That's a lot of work for any OS to perform.

    The initial backup of 350GB of data from the iMac to a wirelessly connected Time Capsule would have taken over a day if I had let it. But instead I killed that process, connected the iMac to the Time Capsule directly by gigabit ethernet and zip-zap! It was over in a few hours.

    If, on the other hand, these people do have nice fat and fast data pipes between the system and the backup device and it's producing vanishingly small movements in the progress bar, then I guess it is simply a case of yet another half baked product from Redmond.

  37. Tony W

    What is the use of a backup if you can't get it back

    In the days of Windows 98 I foolishly used MS Backup for archiving material as well as for safety backup. When I changed to Windows ME (another mistake, but what I'm going to say apples to XP as well) I found that there was NO software available, at a remotely reasonable price, that would run on my MS PC and allow me to access my carefully stored and duplicated MS backups. Effiectively, they were trashed.

    But Microsoft had the solution - their advice was to keep a "spare" PC in working order, running Windows 98. So convenient and economical.

    Moral: if you might want future access to your backups, make sure they are in a standard file format, preferably one that works across different operating systems as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Halo

      Did you mean...........?

      "but what I'm going to say apples to XP as well"

      Freudian slip?

      Time Machine supplied with the Mac OS is not perfect, but it sets the bar for ease of use backup aimed at the average Joe User.

  38. Reg Sim

    Backup are for the week.

    I keep all my important data right along side my OS, as its on faster raid 0 disks. Why would I need to make a copy of my data?, nothing ever goes wrong with hard drives these days, and even if one dies I am sure I can get my data back from the other....

    1. TimeMaster T


      I know its meant to be funny but at my last job the guy they replaced me with REALLY believed that if the drives are mirrored (I forget the raid level) then regular backups are less important. I'm just hope they get a good IT admin before a drive fails or somebody needs a file that they deleted last week.

      Tux, 'cus Linux ROCKS!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Damn straight!

      Real men don't take backups!

      We know when a drive will fail by simply listening to it, then at the right time we simply clone the disk a split second before it fails!

      Pansies and their backup software, pah!

  39. Donn Bly

    People will always find a reason to complain

    The software works for the intended market - home users with a "small" amount of data -- with "small" of course being a relative term -- but considering the largest hard drives just a few years ago were less than 250 gig it doesn't seem like an unreasonable trade-off for a "free" backup option.

    Are people going to complain next that notepad doesn't do bold and underlining? Come on folks, use the right application for the job. If you are a computer enthusiast with a large amount of data then the native backup utility probably isn't for you and there are lots of alternatives -- (but then, if you are a computer enthusiast with a large amount of data you probably wouldn't be storing it on a single, internal hard drive on a windows machine either....)

    1. Arctic fox

      .......and whinge and whine and moan.

      Absolutely. Horses for courses and all that. These people have actually kept a blog going for a year about Win 7's backup tool? They should get a life. Your point about you don't expect "Word" facilities from notepad illustrates the issue very well. One could also ask what these people would have said if MS had provided a backup tool with the OS that could match the performance of kit like Acronis? If they had done so it would have destroyed the commercial basis for the bespoke software companies that make that kind of thing. The howling we would then have seen in the blogs about "predatory behaviour" by Microsoft would have been deafening.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Does RAID eliminate the need for backup?

    "It's a consumer product and a compression based backup will crawl with that amount of data, just make disk images or get a RAID set up if your 900GB of files are so important."

    This man has customers. I hope his understanding of the difference between RAID and backup is better than it appears from this brief sentence.

    Hint: RAID doesn't allow you to recover from finger trouble or from file/disk corruption caused by ill-behaved applications. Backups (either based on disk images or file by file) allow you to recover from (...)

  41. Arctic fox

    How much?

    I get the feeling that some people have absolutely no discipline with regard to what they have on their OS hard drive, 1 Tb for crying out loud? All I have on my primary (Intel X25 80 Gb) is the OS and my programmes. Backup takes 30 min. That is the kind of task Win backup works for. You want to do backup on an industrial scale then use Acronis or equivalent.

    1. The BigYin

      I have 2 500gb drives

      I now, of course, realise this is a slightly silly configuration but I have to live with it. OS, applications recorded TV, etc on first; "My Documents" and any other data type stuff on second (as far as Windows will allow at any rate). Not great, but it will do until I get a new PC.

      Backups taken via Cygwin/rsync driven by a batch file, pretty sweet really. I probably should look at a way of compressing the backup, but it's not too much of an issue just now.

      Initial backup took, oh, 2 hours or so. Subequent backups are much faster (sub 15 mins at times). All depends what's changed.

      I think the next PC will have a 32 or 64GB SSD as primary and another HDD for actual data. Of course, it won't be running the vomit that is Win7 (which is doing a good job of pissing me off royally at the moment).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      how dare anybody have more data on their system drive than you do! Yes we should all go back to using 80GB system drives and all those people who were sold 500GB+ drives can just suck eggs. And how dare they expect the backup tool that came with their system to... actually work.

      That would be like buying a new car and expecting the battery it came with to be large enough to power the starter motor! OBVIOUSLY you're supposed to replace the battery, oh and the tyres and the handbrake. That's why third party alternatives exist you know! Everyone knows that.

      If the car worked straight off the production line... well that just wouldn't be right. You have to build a few faults into it. That way we have to pay jobsworths to do pointless work that should never have been necessary in the first place. Heaven forbid they should find something useful to do with their lives.

  42. Adrian Esdaile
    Gates Halo

    Just some experience here....

    I back up 3 Windows 7 installs totaling about 2TB to a Windows Home Server running on an Asus P20 micro-box with 2GB RAM, and two 1TB WD USB drives.

    Over a wireless connection.

    It takes maybe 5 hours (overnight) to back up the three PCs. Haven't had any major problems, and have done restores from WHS too.

    It works pretty nicely, actually.

    I'm just saying.

  43. Tim99 Silver badge

    Quick reliable backup

    I use SystemRescueCD:

    It is a bootable CD-ROM or USB stick that can be used to back up to a removable drive or network storage. It is fast and reliable.

    Some IT shps do not allow it, as it can be used to copy files or reset/create Administrator accounts/passwords outside the normal Windows security model.

  44. chipmonk

    solution to microsoft backup

    I use clonezilla... no muss no fuss and fast...oh that wont run on windows

  45. gratou

    compressed slower?

    >Windows 7 Backup does compressed backups, which extends backup time compared to file copying

    True, if you have a pentium3, otherwise the BU should be faster as CPUs don't even notice, and there are fewer IOs.

    For the rest:

    - BU using a MS format? really? some people still have that much trust in MS?

    - stupid excuses from MS: even if you image AND backup all of your disk, that should take just twice as long as just a BU.

    - tired already thinking of all the BS I have read in this article, so tired...

  46. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    is this "new" backup software for Win7 a replacement for the old NTBackup, or is NTBackup still on the disk somewhere, waiting to be used? MS loves to push out newfangled over-engineered eye-candy with their new releases, but generally keeps the tried-and-true stuff available to those who know how to use it.

    NTBackup is sometimes a PITA to get set right, but once you've got it set (especially if you're using command line switches and a batch file), it generally does what it's supposed to in a reliable fashion. Then use 7zip to compress the resulting bkf file and off you go. It's not elegant, but it does work.

  47. Matthew 4

    tell me something I don't know

    quad core, 4gb of ram, and it can't even backup 250gb in a day.

    I got work to buy me Acronis true image - does it in just hours & is far more reliable.

    1. The BigYin

      I said it above but...

      ...Cygwin/rsync/batch file is pretty hard to beat IMHO.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward



  48. Ketlan

    Backing up...

    I got bitten by a dodgy image yonks ago and went over to using Migrate Easy to clone straight on to a second hard drive. No compression (so files are instantly accessible if need be) and it takes just fifteen minutes for a complete copy. Microshite really needs a good kicking for this farce.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    More fail

    You can't even backup onto a network share on the home premium version, because it's been deliberately crippled. Feeling smug right now cos the 20 year old plus technology my linux install uses (nightly cron job running an rsync onto an nfs export) does the trick quickly, quietly, and without fuss.

  50. PeterM42

    Incremental Backups - use DOS

    For incremental DATA backups, I run a scheduled task on a batch file containing the line:

    xcopy "\\server_name\c-drive\Data\*.*" "G:\DATAbackup" /D /E /C /H /R /Y

    Where G: can be a mapped drive on another machine, an external USB-connected disk, or, if you don't have that much data, a memory stick.

    Yes, I know it doesn't do deletes, but is that always a bad thing?

    Change the path_names to suit your setup.


  51. Steve Martins

    Versioning for backups

    A while ago i came to the conclusion that a versioning system is a good approach to backups. I use Subversion with auto commit on the network shared drives, and the windows explorer integration makes manual commits easy and obvious. Also its completely platform independent and allows collaboration on single files easy across multiple users, works across remote networks (instant off-site backups) and is robust. The ability to see instantly which files are backed up, and be able to retrieve any old version in an instant are great benefits.

    If compression and disk storage are an issue, then you just backup and compress the repository, archiving off old stuff before a certain date - can't see why I would use anything else (an NEVER a M$ product for system critical stuff... but thats just common sense...)

  52. Ian Ferguson

    Why use it at all?

    It's a crappy little product for home use.

    The people complaining probably also use Notepad to write all their correspondence!

    Get a proper backup package if you need something reliable, not a bundled utility. Having said that... Time Machine in OSX is sheer fucking bliss ;)

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "unbelievably bad and stupefyingly slow"

    A Microsoft product? Never!

    Okay backup software can have a lot of subtle complexities that can be hard to get right... but they've had a decade to work on it and it just gets slower and less intuitive every year.

    Back in the day you could backup your system to a stack of floppies longer than your arm and it'd still take less time than this junky offering. Admittedly the amount of data has increased several orders of magnitude but so have the read/write speeds. There's no excuse.

  54. N2

    who would use it anyway?

    As long as my arse has pointed downwards, the plethora of cling-on apps that ship with Windows (insert version) have usually been crap.

  55. zenkaon

    rsync anyone??

    My wife has vista, I've installed cygwin with rsync on in. She clicks a button and enters her password for the server. rsync then backups up all changes over an ssh connection to our server (which is also backed up)

    Never had a problem, always runs pretty fast, she can do this from anywhere in the world.

    Of course, I don't use Vista....I open a terminal, type backup and get the same results.

  56. Patrick 8
    Thumb Up

    Time Machine works great

    Another vote in favour of Time Machine. Plugged in a new drive, OS X asked if I wanted to use it for backup I said 'Yes" by clicking and then I forgot about it.

    OS X just runs it all automatically, if the drive isn't plugged in no problem, if you plug the drive in, no problem. It just works and does great backups with the user needing to know anything.

    The copy machine in Redmond is just getting poorer and poorer as the years go by.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Time Machine

      While I'm not disputing that Time Machine works, until it runs on Windows it can hardly be recommended as an alternative to Windows Backup.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Well you could

        Install Windows as a VM under OSX, then Time Machine will happily back it up for you.

        As a solution, though, that would be a bit sub-par since you would have to buy a Mac and a copy of Windows and put up with the poor performance of Windows in the VM.

  57. Rogerborg

    Try using a real operating system

    This "problem" was solved 20 years ago. Why gamble on Microsoft's competent to reinvent yesterday's wheel tomorrow?

    Upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, schedule an rsync of /home/ every half hour, job done.

  58. John F***ing Stepp


    I must admit I am confused here.

    A back up solution.

    Are we talking backup to external media or the Cloud BS?

    Years ago novels predicted that we would evolve into a race that lived in moving chairs and if fallen out would probably die.

    Who would know that that* prediction would go digital.

    If you are using UNIX then you know cron; if you are using MS then you do not have a clue.


    I just broke my own damn argument.

    I was not thinking.

    We here do not need this BS.

    But 'Joe Streetperson' does. Joe Streetpersron has just been talked into a new computer and he has been told that that computer could actually help him.


    But that would be personal.

    If Joe Streetperson works for a corporation that has an IT group that can lead him into the paths of right thinking.

    Then Joe streetperson does not need this at all.

    Somebody else has been paid to handle his backup.

    Somebody else has to be smart enough to do this right.

    And yeah, I think we all have figured out how to back up a f**king hard drive by now.

    Bottom f**king line.

    My back up where I work is based off of some arcane language called DOS*.

    I wrote this batch file. It is a simple batch file and I would have thought it was really (I do not consider myself to be that smart) kind of common.

    (Hello; leave a disk in the drive and at 12:01 write out changes; you don't do this?*)

    For Joe Streetperson this is important.

    For the rest of us this is highly embarrassing; and hello, if you are not embarrassed by this issue then enhale.



    You can learn; do not ever turn the mind off.

    *Using "that that" in a sentence' well hell just Goggle it.

    *And why in the hell do we not tell the simple users that they should do this?

    *In XP the DOS is the new UNIX.

    *If I get this out of order then (who cares, I am not getting paid for this and enjoy my vodka).

  59. screaminfakah
    Jobs Horns

    Thats what happens

    when you make an OS that is geared to spy on you in every fashion.

    I have also noticed on Win 7 that the system services tend to talk to MS's servers excessively compared to Vista. Makes you wonder what data my OS is harvesting non stop??

  60. Chris Mellor 1

    Microsoft's response

    Here it is:-

    "We are aware of a bug impacting the time required to do backups with

    the File Backup feature that will be addressed in a forthcoming update."

    The bug occurs when users are trying to back up individual files to a

    hard disk, but is most visible when backing up larger data sets (e.g.

    more than 400 GB of storage). Customers' ability to back up individual

    files or a system image are not impacted."

    "Until the update is available, customers who are experiencing this bug

    should follow the work around steps outlined here:



    There is no time schedule for the update in question.


  61. Anonymous Coward

    Oh for the love of [insert diety of choice]

    What the hell is wrong here, so MS backups a shoddy application and we can all list various better products that can do it faster, simpler and over a 'bit of damp string' whilst its raining. If the MS version was all encompassing wouldn't the same posters be bitching that MS are abusing their monopoly position and should be investigated/broken up/shot?

    1. Arctic fox


      Absolutely. Had MS included a full value backup on a par with, for example, Acronis as a "freebie" the European and probably the American competition authorities would have been down on them like a ton of bricks. Moreover, the same companies whose kit many posting here are recomending would be forming a not so orderly queue to lodge formal complaints against MS for predatory behaviour.

  62. Peter Hood

    Imaging tools

    I don't backup my boot drive, but use imaging software. Following difficulties with the commercial imaging software I have - it naffs the partition slightly and Vista/7 will not tolerate it lightly - I'm looking at Drive Image XML and a couple of others.

    Whatever, an image of a basic installation is a good thing. Backing up is problematic since files cannot be locked down, unless booting from a live linux/PE disc. I started doing things this way years back, simply because no MS tool has seemed even remotely adequate.

    As a postscript I see there is a Drive Image XML recommendation in the responses, which nudges me closer to it.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few reminders

    If you 'backup' to a disk which stays attached to your machine, it's not a backup - fire, power surge and theives don't respect leaving your backup alone!

    If you run a job that just copies your system disk to another disk, without versioning (especially regularly) it's not a backup, because it will delete the files on the backup that you've accidentally deleted from the system before you notice you need them back.

    If you can't handle open files, it's not a good backup

    If you don't backup the registry properly (ie: you use some form of copy) it's not a good backup, becasue you won't be able to restore the OS.

  64. Matt Hawkins
    Thumb Down

    Windows Backup. Why?

    When has any Microsoft backup solution ever been any good? Exactly.

    Serves people right for even bothering to try something bundled with Windows given the track record of failure.

  65. Peter Hood

    Power surges


    "If you 'backup' to a disk which stays attached to your machine, it's not a backup - fire, power surge and theives don't respect leaving your backup alone!"

    This is indeed a good argument for a) UPS and b) backing up to optical discs, magnetic tape or using an external SSD/HD.

    It may also be a good argument for off site storage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Personally I backup all my machines (using proper backup s/w) to a separate disk in my server, which is dedicated to backups, this happens over the weekend, on Monday I take my external USB HDD home from work and robocopy the backup disk onto the USB HDD, the following morning it goes back to work. I have a separate partition on the USB HDD with all the software I need to install over the base OS, in order to get everything back.

      I'm seriously considering using two external disks, so something is always offsite.

      Having said all that, I'm the sort of person sad enough to be seriously considering a DR rehersal... This is what you get for ten years working in storage...

  66. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

    200GB Shud b enouf

    OK, so MickySoft are now saying that 200GB should be enough for anyone. Where have I heard something similar before? Hint: it was 640K

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I may be mistaken, but...

      ...I think the "640kB is enough" quotation is a myth. Nice story, but not true. BillG (nor Microsoft) never said anything about it. Near as I can recall, you'll never find an authoritative "first source" for this -- just people who have quoted it from other people who have quoted it, and nobody able to point to the original.

  67. Kingprawn
    Paris Hilton

    Well what can one say apart from this is what I do

    1, Take daily image of root.

    2, Delete previous days image of root.

    3, Take a weekly full back up of my important files.

    4, Delete the previous backup.

    Why do I delete the previous back up? Because I don't like relying on software to cover up for my own stupidity. If I've cocked up my files then I'll remember not to do the same thing next time.

    What do I use, Acronis. Have I/would I use MS back up. Yes and yes if I was being cheap and not willing to pay for other backup software. If I had to use it because I was cheap would I strop? No because I've paid for the OS not a backup application.

    Paris because it would only take a floppy to back her up.

  68. Wind Farmer

    Are you serious?

    Really? Quiet day in the office, or for real: 1 story with Fok & Hell as lead characters!

  69. Harry

    "Worst. Thing. Ever."

    Worst. Thing. Ever? Probably not.

    I well remember the backup in one of the earlier versions of windows, which was most of the time effectively a "write-only" backup.

    At best, the backup would only restore if you restored to the very same machine that you took the original from. Even changing a hard drive (one of the most likely reasons why you're likely to want to restore) would break the restore unless the new drive had exactly the same geometry and bad sectors as the old one.

  70. Trollslayer
    Thumb Up

    Oddly enough

    I just had to use it and it worked fine.

  71. Squirrel


    Free VSS compatible x86/x64 backup. google it. :)

  72. J. Cook Silver badge


    Oddly enough, I have no problems with the backup program built into XP- Although frankly, it's a stripped down version of BackupExec (before it went to shite, that is) and it seems to do the job of backing up the 500 GB data mirror I have quite nicely.

    Now, at $work, we use Commvault because Backupexec was utter crap at backing up multiple machines over the network, and we were sold on this as opposed to Netbackup.

    Not sure what I'll use once I do migrate to windows 7, but itt sure as hell won't be the built in product at this rate.

    Mine's the silver asbestos-lined one with the full head hood attached.

  73. The Smythe
    Thumb Down

    And it stiffs XP backup

    Anyone here tried to take an xp "bkf" backup and restore files to W7? Then you discover that support for the XP backup format vapourised. Particularly aggravating if that backup was done as preparation for the move to W7, since you are then unable to retore the data you cleverly backed up prior to conversion.

    I find it hard to believe that MS could discontinue support for a backup format and think that it is a reasonable thing to do. I also feel particularly silly since I've previously told anyone that listens that "formats never go out of support". Seems I was a little optimistic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Single Source or Open Source?

      That's what you get for choosing a single source supplier

      If anything goes wrong you are stuffed

  74. Anonymous Coward

    I am an average Joe.

    I don´t use any backup tools. I didn´t even know the Windoze version I bought had such a tool. I use copy / delete straight from folders.

    I just get the "my documents" thingie copied to a USB stick, another PC, or external drive. To be sure it is there, disconnect the source and try to view it from somewhere else. If the stuff is really large, then I might consider zipping it, because the average Joe wouldn´t bother using Acronis.

    About the Windoze setup itself, the average Joe like me knows it is no use to backup an OS if a virus borked it, since you would be restoring a virus (if we didn´t notice it since last backup). What we average Joes do is to format the bloody thing and install everything back from scratch on a clean slate, because we don't GARAss, then we WinUpdate it, reinstall a clean and updated antivirus, then we copy our stuff back, while checking it on the AV. No special tools, no exclusive piece of hardware, just a network share or USB port is what we understand.

    No, I am not an average Joe, but I saved my Dad's work by doing just that, since he had everything copied, and knew all his software by heart, just saved him the hassle of formatting and setuping. A fresh system in 4 hours, priceless. (Plus a fresh antivirus period as bonus.)

    Yes, incremental backups become important after a certain size, but damn right you are to use real dedicated stuff to do it, and to restore it also, if needed be. For the home user this tool is irrelevant.

    And Murphy's Law dictates that once you have mirrored (raid 1, 10) drives and one of them calls it quits, you will plug out one of the sane ones first by mistake, thus crapping the whole thing.

    Notice "don't cut this leg" stickers when any mirrored system craps out.

  75. Peter Hood

    Investment costs


    Seems we are like minded. Every machine that I buy has more HDs, and I'm continually investing in optical/magnetic backup media, but your routine is slightly more secure than mine. A little organisation goes a long way, as long as there are continual reviews, rehearsals and upgrades. Oh what an expensive life it is.

  76. Luiz Abdala
    Jobs Halo


    Microsoft has put no effort in releasing this tool, mostly because there was better stuff out there, and the users got (insert aggressive verb here).

    Mac went all the way around, then? They pushed Time Machine to work well, because:

    A - Otherwise there was no backup tool for Macs (is there?);

    B - It is EXCELLENT PR to boast you can provide a great backup tool, along with the OS.

    Call it "added value" or whatnot, it makes the users fuzzy, warm and taken care of. With reason, yes? I somehow fell jealous of Mac users right now !!

  77. tim-e
    Jobs Halo


    *hugs his mac* Time Machine works perfectly for me.

  78. CatsAreGods
    Thumb Up

    Just Use SyncToy

    Microsoft has a perfectly nice free program called SyncToy 2.1 which is fast, accurate, and lets you mirror any or all directories to anywhere you want. Run it again next week and it will only copy/delete the changes.

    It may not be industry-quality backup software but once you set it up (which is easy) it can be launched by your granny with two clicks.

  79. Ed Gould


    Not to take the heat off of MS to much, One of MS's earliest competitors back up was just as painfully slow as MS's "product". Over the years the company listened and made their backs "sing" it was a long pain full ride but complaining did work and the number of competitors multiplied. Right now they only really have one competitor and their back up is slick (fast). However, knowing some of its quirks, I wouldn't use it.

    The competitor is faster and has darn good support but I still prefer the original as it does work as advertised.

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