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Backup and Restore Center
Backup and Restore Center Icon
Backup and Restore Center 7.png
Backup and Restore Center in Windows 7
Developer(s) Microsoft
Stable release 6.0.6001.18000 / February 4, 2008
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Backup software
License Proprietary software
Website Windows Vista: Features Explained: Windows Backup and Restore Center

Backup and Restore Center is a component introduced in Windows Vista and included in later versions that allows users to backup their drives. It is a replacement of NTBackup, which was included in previous Windows versions.



There are two different types of backup supported. File backup and full system backup. File Backup does not store incremental block-level changes but can keep track of new or updated files and uses VSS and stores files into a ZIP file (maximum size of 200MB each but can span multiple discs). [1] Full system backup which takes an image of the system can be incremental if using local or removable media.

The main differentiating factor from NTBackup for full system backups is that it uses a block-level backup engine, whereas NTBackup was file-based. Block based backup is more efficient at performing subsequent differential backups as only the blocks that have changed need to be backed up. Newer backup media such as CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs are supported and all backup operations are based on the Volume Shadow Copy service. [2]

The Volume Snapshot Service also creates and maintains periodic copies of system and user data on the same local volume although this backup feature of the OS is not exposed as part of the Backup and Restore Center. This stores previous versions of those files with incremental block-level changes automatically but on the same volume, which can restored using System Restore or the Previous Versions shell extension. For scripting or command line automation, the Wbadmin.exe utility is the equivalent to backup and restore functionality.

Image-based full system backup

The image based full system backup option, called Complete PC Backup in Windows Vista or system image backup in Windows 7, allows for the imaging of the entire system including operating system and data volumes. The backed up image can later be restored through the Windows Recovery Environment if recovery of the operating system is necessary. The file format used when doing an image based backup is VHD. A VHD image can also be mounted for extracting individual files, or booted from (using Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate only) after the full system image backup has been done.


Full system Backup can only back up NTFS-formatted disks.

The features included and enabled in the Backup and Restore Center are dependent on the edition of Windows used. For Windows Vista, only Windows Vista Home Premium and above editions can schedule automatic backups, back up files and folders (non-image based) to a network location, and perform full system incremental backups. Only Windows Vista Business and above editions support image-based full incremental system backups to local or removable media.

Another notable limitation of the Backup and Restore Center in Windows Vista is that it does not allow users to specify individual files or folders to be backed up or skipped, it only allows users to choose file type categories (based on MIME type, application association, and file extension) [3] such as documents, music, videos etc. This limitation has been removed in Windows 7.

In Windows Vista, a Complete PC Backup could not be performed to a network location. Windows 7 allows performing a full system image backup to a network location however subsequent incremental system image backups cannot be performed to a network [4]; all image based backups to the network must be full backups. Full system image backups to local or removable storage can be incremental.

For Windows 7, file backup to a network share is available only with Windows 7 Professional and above whereas it was included in Windows Vista Home Premium. [5] Manual image-based full system backup (including incremental backup) can be done on local or removable media in Windows 7 Home Premium. Full system backup to a network also requires Windows 7 Professional or above editions.

Beginning with Windows Vista SP1, restores of full system backups can be performed to a machine with a different motherboard which may be having a different disk controller but this requires the same number of disks. [6]

Windows Backup does not support hard disk drives with large sector size (4096 bytes) which do not have 512 byte emulation support. [7]


External links



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