Backup the Windows 2000 System State

Microsoft® Windows 2000 Knowledge Center

Backing up the Windows 2000 System State

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Just Backing Up the Registry Isn’t Enough!

Since the days of the release of the first Windows version, the veterans of high tech have warned that mucking around in the Windows Registry will result in all sorts evil befalling the one doing the mucking. Well that may be true to a point, presuming that you make no provisions to restore what you might break. The Windows Registry isn’t a monster buried deeply inside of your computer just waiting for you to screw up. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t be careful when making registry changes may result in an improvement in the way you use your computer. What we are saying is that you should always leave yourself a way out in the event you make a mistake. If any of you have OS/2 experience, take a close look at the Windows Registry and you just might see some resemblances in the Registry concept. That aside, let’s look at three issues that, when coordinated, will allow you to dig deeply into Windows 2000 without the fear of rendering your computer entirely useless. Windows 2000 has a registry as does all Windows versions, but it also has other components that are collectively know as the “System State”.

Before going too much further, we should reach a bit of an understanding. This segment is but one aspect of the various recovery processes you can use to restore your Windows 2000 system. Here, we focus briefly on the Windows Registry, the components that make up what is termed as the “System State”, and how you can use NTBackup to preserve all of it, thereby allowing you to dig as deeply as you wish!

What is in the Windows 2000 Registry?

  • User profiles for all users added to the system beyond the administrator
  • Application installation settings and document-type file associations
  • Hardware profiles
  • Port information
  • …and more!

The Windows Registry used a directory hierarchy long before it became fashionable to use the term hierarchy. It consists of a basic tree structure with keys, sub-keys, hive, and assigned values. It’s basic structure has changed very little since those early Window NT days. Like we’ve mentioned above though, just backing up the registry is not enough to preserve your system.

Before you play, back it up first!
Sprinkled throughout our Website you will find registry edits you can use to change everything from the color of your desktop all the way through to handling difficult security issues. We implore you, however, not to try any of them without first-hand knowledge of how to backup the “System “State” and without first having created a verifiable registry backup. As a user of Microsoft’s most powerful operating system, it should be evident to you by now that you never know when you’ll need to return to a previous copy of the Registry, therefore creating “verifiable backups” should always be taken seriously.

During Microsoft’s development of Windows 2000, and with respect to NTBackup, their focus was not only on the need to accurately backup and restore the registry, but also to restore all of the system core components to the way they were prior to the onset of a problem. This methodology first surfaced in Windows 98 with the ability to recover previous “known good registries”.

When you use NTBackup in Windows 2000, the backup process does more than merely backup the registry with a few other files. When used correctly, it backs up all of the “System State” data as well as providing you with a Wizard to help you create an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD). And even if you don’t like NTBackups new wizard, it still allows you to backup the registry manually. All you need to do is back up the \%system_root%\repair folder or C:\WINNT\Repair.

The term “System State” data is new in Windows 2000. It refers to the following components:

  • The Registry (Windows 2000 Professional and Server).
  • COM+ Class Registration database (Windows 2000 Professional and Server).
  • Boot files (Windows 2000 Professional and Server).
  • Certificate Services database (Windows 2000 Server only).
  • Active Directory (Windows 2000 Server only).
  • SYSVOL directory (a shared directory that stores the server copy of the domain’s public files. These are replicated among all domain controllers in the domain).
  • Cluster service information (Windows 2000 Advanced Server – This component controls all aspects of server cluster operations and manages the cluster database).

To back up the Registry as part of the System State data backup, follow these steps.

  1. Click the Start button on the desktop.
  2. Select Programs, then Accessories and then the System Tools program group.
  3. Next click to launch NTBackup.
  4. The initial Backup application screen appears as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1
As you can see, the NTBackup screen affords you with three options, the Backup Wizard, the Restore Wizard as well as the ability to create an Emergency Repair Disk (ERD).

  1. Now click the Backup Wizard button.
  2. The next screen you will see will be like that shown in Figure 2, with the Backup Wizard asking you what you would like to back up.
  3. On the “What to Back Up” screen, select “Only back up the System State data” , as noted in Figure 2.

Figure 2

  1. Now click Next, and you’ll see the “Where to Store the Backup” screen appear. See Figure 3.

    If your system is equipped with a tape drive, then you would select it as the destination. You can, however, use another hard drive, jaz or zip drive or even a network share. Unfortunately though (Posted Internet comments and the Windows 2000 readme files to the contrary), you can’t backup to a CD-R or CD-RW CD-ROM burner. See the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base: Windows 2000 Backup Does Not Back Up to CD-R/CD-RW/DVD-R Devices.

Figure 3

  1. Once you have selected where you want the backup data to go, click Next.

    This will start the actual backup process and you will be provided with a progress screen showing you the files being backed up and the estimated time necessary to do so. See Figure 4.

Figure 4

  1. Once the backup has completed, another screen informs you that the backup has completed. See Figure 5.

Figure 5

  1. Now all you need to do is click Close, and your System State data files are safely backed up! Obviously, this data doesn’t fit on a single 3.5-inch floppy disk, therefore choose your backup destination carefully. Remember, you will need to be able to access these files in the event of a crash!

    As noted in our comments in our segment, “Using the Windows 2000 Backup Program“, in order to restore what you have just backed up, you will need to have a working version of Windows 2000. This means you will have to either prepare a fresh installation and then do your restoration, (presuming that your other data is backed up), perform a full system recovery.

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