Vivek Agarwal’s Portal/Java Blog

An IBM Gold Consultant’s weblog about IBM, Lotus, WebSphere, J2EE, IT Processes, and other IT technologies

Frustrated with dumbing down of Windows Vista Backup Utility!

Posted by Vivek Agarwal on August 31, 2007


I am sticking it out with Windows Vista so far after thinking that I was going to be forced to upgrade to XP! If I could get back XP without losing any time in getting my laptop reconfigured to its current state with all the software and data that I need, I would easily go back to XP. And today, I discovered another reason for why I prefer XP.

I was looking to configure backups for my email (Outlook PST files), and that is the one thing that I used to backup using the Windows built-in backup utility on XP. So today, after being lazy for a few weeks, I finally fired up the backup utility to back up my email and boy was I in for a nasty surprise. As I was going through the Vista backup wizard, I kept waiting for the screen to show up where I could specify the backup folders. I got to specify the type of files that I wanted to back up but no option to specify the folder where my email files were. As a result, when I finally let the backup rip, it started scanning each and every folder and file on my laptop looking for files of type “email”! Boy, what a waste of time. I could not bring myself to believe that there wasn’t an advanced option to let me specify a folder to back up. I started googling this issue and was amazed to find that this shortcoming was actually reality. Unbelievable that the brainy folks at Microsoft thought this was a step forward. I could have understood it if they had hidden this in an advanced option, but no – it ain’t there! I am a little incredulous as you can possibly tell!

I found an entry in the Petri knowledge base about how you can actually install the XP backup utility on Vista. I followed those instructions and sure enough had the XP backup utility running on my Vista laptop. I picked the folder containing my pst files for backup and let the backup utility rip. However, now I hit the issue that the XP backup utility was not able to take advantage of the Vista shadow copy correctly and as a result could not back up the PST files that I had open in Outlook. I got the following error –

Warning: Unable to open "C:UsersVivek AgarwalAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookMyEmails.pst" - skipped.
Reason: The process cannot access the file because it is being used by another process.

Well – that just about defeated the reason why I was using the Windows built-in backup utility in the first place. I could not find any workaround for this issue or even a posting that others had run into this issue with using the XP backup utility on Vista. So, now I imagine I will be looking at an alternative. I do have the option of using Retrospect for backing up onto my external USB drive as that does handle open files correctly.

Vista makes me long for my XP!

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2 Responses to “Frustrated with dumbing down of Windows Vista Backup Utility!”

  1. Vivek Agarwal said

    A quick follow-up on Retrospect – I installed the version that came bundled with the Iomega NAS device. Running it on my vista laptop yielded all kinds of errors – when running it as the logged-in user, it failed to copy/backup open files, thereby defeating the purpose yet again! However, once I updated Retrospect Express to v7.5.387, my problems went away and I was able to use Retrospect successfully to perform backups of my Outlook PST files on Vista.

  2. Quick note to let you know that it seems that NTbackup on Vista will work only you disable the Shadow Copy function of the backup job. Not so handy, but still, it’ll work ok.

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