Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How to backup your computer to a Complete PC Backup and Restore image
  3. How to restore your computer from a Complete PC Backup and Restore Image
  4. Conclusion


Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise come with a more advanced backup and restore utility called Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore. This program allows you to create an entire backup of your computer that can be used to restore your computer in the case of system-wide failure. Unlike the standard backup and restore feature that comes with all the versions of Windows Vista, Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore allows you to not only restore your data but also the complete operating system and other critical system files.

This Vista disaster recovery option works by creating an image of the selected hard drives and saving this image to either multiple DVDs or to another hard drive. In the event that your computer is no longer able to boot into Windows Vista, you can then restore these snapshots using the Windows Recovery Environment.

To create a Complete PC Backup image for your computer you need to enter the Backup and Restore Center. To begin please follow these instructions:

  1. Click on the Start button to open your Start Menu. The Start button looks like this:
  2. Click on the All Programs menu option.
  3. Click on the Maintenance folder.
  4. Click on the Backup and Restore Center icon.

When you click on that icon, the Backup and Restore Center will open as shown in Figure 1 below.

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To start the backup you should now click on the Start Backup button. When you press this button, Vista will start the backup and create an image on the media or hard drive that you specified. The status of the backup creation will be shown in a window similar to Figure 5 below.

Creating backup imageFigure 5. Creating backup image

When the backup is finished being created you will see a message stating so as shown in Figure 6 below.

Your computer has now been successfully backed up and you should store the media or external drive in a safe location in the event that you need it in the future. In the future when you make further Complete PC Backups to the same drive, it will only backup the differences between your last backup and the current state of your computer allowing the backups to complete much quicker.

How to restore your computer from a Complete PC Backup and Restore Image

Once you have made a Complete PC Backup you can restore that backup at any time. When restoring a Complete PC Backup it is important to know that the restore process will erase all of hard disks and all of the user data and programs will be erased and replaced with the data and programs from the backup. If you understand this warning, and feel that you need to restore a backup, then continue reading. If you have any doubts at all about how this process works, please ask us in the Windows Vista help forums. It is better to be safe than sorry when there is a chance you may lose all of your data.

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If you still want to perform the restore, then you need to start the restore process from the System Recovery Options menu in the Windows Recovery Environment. Instructions and information on how to access the Windows Recovery Environment and the System Recovery Options menu can be found in the following tutorial: Using Windows Complete PC Restore to restore your computer.


Now that you understand how Complete PC Backup and Restore works, it is advised that you create your first Complete PC Backup and store it somewhere safe. This provides peace of mind because you know that if there is a problem in the future you have a perfect installation that you can easily restore. As always, if you need help with or want to talk about Complete PC Backup and Restore, then feel free to ask us in our Windows Vista Help Forums.