Using Windows 9x Backup

Backing Up Windows 95/98

Whether you’re using Windows 95 (any version) or Windows 98 (any version), each came with the ability to backup your files. The capabilities offered with Windows 95 however, are vastly different from those in Windows 98. The issue is whether any of these backup programs will do what you expect of them, which is the point of our discussion here. In the following dialogue we will correct some of the misunderstandings surrounding the capabilities of the backup programs in both operating systems, as well as try and demystify how the backup procedure works in Windows 98 with our “How To” procedure.

Although the version of Microsoft Backup that came with Windows 95 is similar to the one released with Windows 98, the capabilities of each are vastly different. While we have prepared our “How To” for the Windows 98 version of Microsoft Backup, we do not offer one for Windows 95 as we feel that the early version of Microsoft Backup is not reliable enough for this purpose. We’ve done some snooping recently to locate backup software that can be used in Windows 95 as an alternative. Since everyone’s computer and their situations unique unto them, we do not endorse or recommend any specific backup package. You can see the results of what we found by following this link. Some are freeware, shareware as well as full retail releases.

Microsoft Backup is not a self contained full system backup utility.
The version of Microsoft Backup provided with Windows 98 has seen a vast improvement over that which came with Windows 95. It is a light version of Seagate’s Backup Software product and was licensed by Microsoft for inclusion in Windows 98. Even with all of its improvements though, the Microsoft Backup utility really isn’t a self contained “full system backup utility”.

What’s the difference?
Obviously, a file backup program is what the term “file backup” implies, a utility that you can use to backup certain of your files, such as documents, pictures, sound files etc.

On the other hand, a full operating system backup utility must be capable of completely backing up an entire operating system, which includes not only the operating system (Windows), but also “every file” located within the partition on the hard drive where that operating system is located. Unfortunately, the Microsoft Backup utility is not capable of a full system backup without the use of some files that were not included with this utility. Obviously you haven’t stopped here just to be told that you can’t backup your system, but we did want to make sure that you understood the differences between a full system backup as opposed to a file backup.

Our “How To” will show you how to properly use the Microsoft Backup utility, as well as each of the additional files you will need to prepare so that you can use this utility to do a full system backup and restoration. One of the better features of this version is Microsoft’s inclusion of a wizard that walks you through most of the standard backup procedures. It tends to keep you from overlooking some things, but not everything, and we’ll show you that! In addition, we will also briefly discuss the use of a drive imaging program that makes backing up your hard drive a snap.

Let’s take a look at what the Windows Backup utility can and can’t do, without some form of user intervention, and why. , Below you will find the system requirements, installation procedures as well as the backup media supported by Microsoft Backup, just in case you do not it installed.

What Microsoft Backup can do:
Without any user intervention, other than normal setup and making selections, you can use Microsoft Backup to backup nearly any file or group of files on your system to any of the supported media types (see below), which include tape, Jaz and Zip drives as well as the familiar floppy disk. With the correct software, you can even backup selected files to a CD-ROM disk, presuming that you have a CD-ROM writer/rewriter with the appropriate software.

What Microsoft Backup can’t do:
As we note above, Microsoft Backup will allow you to backup “nearly any file”, but unfortunately it will not allow you to backup “all files”, as there are certain file types that Windows won’t permit to be backed up at all as long as you are within the Windows interface. This is what prevents you from making a full system backup. As an example, there are certain parts of the Windows Registry that are dynamic in nature. Dynamic in that as a file, it is always open and being written to constantly by Windows while you are working on your computer. This “open” file, as far as Windows is concerned, cannot be copied or moved. Additionally, there are some files created by Windows, such as the swap file that is used for virtual memory that cannot be backed up. Here’s the the two-part dilemma you face in layman’s terms.

When attempting a full system backup with Windows Backup, you must be within the Windows interface in order to access Microsoft Backup to either perform a backup procedure or a restore procedure. Under most circumstances, when you backup your system, you are backing up your Windows operating system, all installed Windows Updates, all of the third party applications you have installed as well as all of your other necessary documents and files. As noted above, certain files will not be backed up, such as the dynamic portions of the Windows registry, the swap file and possibly some files in use by Windows when the backup procedure begins. Of course, there’s no reason to backup the Windows swap file as it will be recreated when Windows starts, but Microsoft Backup sees it as a file and really doesn’t know that you don’t need it.

In order to perform a restore operation, you will need to first install Windows 98 on the target drive in order to access Microsoft Backup. When you attempt to restore from backup, the restore operation will attempt to overwrite the files existing in the fresh Windows installation with those contained in the backup. Since Windows holds many files open while it is in use, it will prevent those files from being overwritten. Therefore, the restoration will fail. Is there a solution, yes, but it takes a few other operations other than just running the backup program.

There are also other options, such as creating an exact duplicate, or image, of the contents of the drive, which is done at the DOS level. This is the only true way to insure that every byte of information resident on the hard drive will be backed up. This image is an exact duplicate of all of the information on the drive including the partition and format information for the drive in use. The imaging tool we use is called Drive Image Pro. While we don’t recommend the professional version of Drive Image for the casual user, PowerQuest does have a regular version.

By itself, the Microsoft Backup utility is fine for performing a backup of most of your files, including your My Documents folder, sound files and other similar data, as long as you follow the procedures correctly. Our step-by-step procedure goes beyond just showing you how to use Microsoft Backup, by providing you with the necessary information and procedures you can use to do a full system backup.

You can learn more about using PowerQuest’s Drive Image by visiting our Knowledge Center.

Microsoft Backup System Requirements for Windows 98

Microsoft Requirements for their Windows Backup program.

Backup is not installed by default in Windows 98. If Backup is installed in Microsoft Windows 95 before you install Windows 98, Backup is upgraded to the Windows 98 version.

How to manually install Microsoft Backup

Follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click Add/Remove Programs.
  2. On the Windows Setup tab, double-click System Tools.
  3. Click the Backup check box to select it, click OK, and then click OK.

System Requirements
To use Backup, your computer must have a hard disk with at least 4.9 megabytes (MB) of free disk space. Microsoft also recommends that you have a Microsoft or 100-percent-compatible mouse connected to your computer.

Supported Backup Media
For a complete list of supported backup devices, click About Microsoft Backup on the Help menu in the Backup program, and then click the Seagate Web address.

  • QIC-80, 80 Wide, 3010, 3010 Wide, 3020, 3020 Wide tapes
  • TR1, TR2, TR3, TR4 tapes
  • DAT (DDS1 and DDS2) tapes
  • DC 6000
  • 8 millimeter tapes
  • Removable media (floppy disks, Jaz disks, or SyQuest cartridges)
    NOTE: QIC-40 backup devices are no longer supported by Backup in Windows 98.

Click here to go to Microsoft Backup – Step-By-Step

This page updated: 8/15/1999

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