Guest Blogpost – When HardDisks go *clunk* in the night

Graham Jones (Vancouver, BC, IT Pro and UserGroup Lead)

Windows Vista, Complete PC Backup

I was working away yesterday when I got IM'd by Graham Jones from VANTUG out in Vancouver. He was asking about how to kick off the Complete PC Backup restore option and wanted some more details. While on Tour, we used the integrated backup solution in Vista as one way to ensure we had a working system in the event of a catastrophic disk failure while on the road, although I do have to admit - I've never had to use the feature - YET.

In return for helping him out on starting the restore process, I asked Graham to write us up a little note about it.

What about YOU? Are you doing your PC backups like all good IT people should (but don't) do. 🙂


Now that Vista has full backup and restore built in I finally decided to do myself a favour and make more regular full backups of my Vista PC. After the first backup it is really very quick since it is incremental. Admittedly, unlike some other 3rd party software, you cannot do a selective restore but I figure that you are doing this for the “doomsday” scenario when that HD fails or begins to sound “sick”. Funny that I should mention that but about a week ago the OS HD on my Vista PC started to make “those odd sounds that one doesn’t like to hear”. It came and it went; quite typical, and I kept a close “ear” on it. Yesterday, it started vibrating to the extent that it was resonating through my desk! Busy as all hell as always of late I sat there thinking, “shall I wait or act now before disaster strikes?”.

I chose to wait being convinced that all would be well until today – been there done that before with 4 laptop HD’s that had other ideas. As good fortune would have it all was well until early afternoon when the “signs” were definitely getting worse! I was in the middle of doing some urgent web work for my daughter-in-law (one of these days I will be doing something for myself but I doubt it :)). So I did the “technical” coin toss and it kept coming down on its edge. Rats, I was going to actually have to make a decision. In the end there was of course only one sensible choice. I was going to have to temporarily disappoint my daughter-in-law in favour of her longer term benefit. She actually likes and uses computers a lot in her business (law practice) but doesn’t tend to be too patient when they go wrong – typical user!

So it was close all programs and do another full backup (I am backing up to another HD on the same PC) which only took a few minutes (incremental remember). Fortunately, I had a second “good” drive in my XP Pro PC which I could use. So I stole that one, installed it in my Vista PC in place of the “wonky” drive, stuck the Vista DVD in the DVD drive and used the full system restore utility. This utility formats and partitions the target drive and rebuilds the image, which took less than 10 mins. The whole process from beginning to end including the hardware changes took less than 30 mins. Of course, I now have to figure out what to do with the “wonky” drive since in my haste I forgot wipe it clean before I started. Oh, well nothing’s perfect. It is still under warrantee so I want a replacement. However, I definitely don’t want to “donate” the data that’s on it.


Graham Jones
President, VANTUG

Comments (3)

  1. Daniel Nerenberg says:

    This is a great tool! I used it just last week when I upgraded my laptop HD from a 5400 to a 7200 rpm drive to quickly duplicate my install from one HD to another. It went great! However a little thing to watch out for Complete PC doesn’t backup OST files. So if you have a big Exchange mail box make sure your local to your exchange server if you need your email all synched up!

  2. Rodney Buike says:

    What I think is very cool about this is that CompletePC backs everything up into a VHD file which you can add to an existing VM and gain access to the data on the backup.  

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