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back to article Windows 7 Backup gets users' backs up

Windows 7 Backup is getting trashed in a Microsoft forum for being unbelievably bad and stupefyingly slow. Users are posting stories that should defy belief. Jon Hell posted on April 23 that he is backing up 900GB of data on a quad core PC with 7GB of RAM; "After twenty four hours Windows Backup had managed to complete 18 per …

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They need to fix this.

Bundling an unreliable backup is worse than no backup at all since it gives users the false impression that their data is safe.

There is an abundance of excellent backup software available. Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies or licensed a feature limited version of their technology.

Personally I keep my OS and my documents on separate partitions and use Acronis True Image to backup my OS, and the free version of SyncBack to handle my documents. If you want a 100% free solution you can replace True Image with Macrium Reflect.

If I had more advanced backup needs I would go with ReBit or Retropect.

Roxio/Sonic just bought retrospect, maybe Microsoft should have bought them instead.

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No way!

"Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies"

Hell no - we (users and developers) are all grateful that Microsoft did not ever include any 'good enough for the job' utility or system maintenance tool with their operating systems. If they did, there would have been no incentive to produce freeware tools like Firefox, Winamp, Total Commander, Auslogics defrag, Tweaknow, Irfanview, DriveImage XML (the latter is an awesome backup tool) etc. without which it's impossible to use Windows in an effective way. In addition, if MS did produce decent tools, this would pull the rag under big software companies' feet. Could you imagine what would have happened if MS had included a (free) PDF reader and writer in Windows 3.11? Or a free office suite?

The only thing MS got right was Sysinternal Tools, and my guess is that they hired the man because otherwise MS developers would be very embarrassed to admit publicly they are using non-MS tools to troubleshoot their own OS problems. Now they can just proudly tell users 'use our (Sysinternals) tools and see what' wrong'.

To be honest, while I'm still locked into Windows since 3.0 due to job demands, I do not trust *any* of the Windows-provided tools, except perhaps checkdisk and emptying the Trash Can.

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FAIL

retarded comment

If they had included a working backup nobody would create a different one !!

WTF just to take three of your examples

e.g. winamp, total commander & internet explorer

Funnily enough windows comes with a file browser & media player

And slap me silly and call me susan there exists winamp, total commander & Firefox and a plethora of other media file browsing and browsers !!!!

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a title

That would be Sysinternals which wasn't originally an MS company but was bought by MS after they started churning out some fantastic tools?

http://blogs.chron.com/techblog/archives/2006/07/microsoft_buys.html

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Black Helicopters

I have a theory ...

Maybe Microsoft has decided to leave it crippled so they don't get sued by suppliers of proper backup software for using their market position to unfair advantage.

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Silver badge

Stupifyingly slow

Never tried Windows backup on any version I've used; however for what it is worth I don't tend to look forward to patch Tuesday as the only thing XP's system update is quick about is asking to be rebooted. It is as slow as treacle in Siberia.

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FAIL

Royal Mail

The CTA of Royal Mail is complaining about this? How is he even CTA if he even considers such a product for data backup in the FIRST place??

No wonder RM are so fecked.

(posting anonymously for a very good reason)

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Anonymous Coward

The CTA of Royal Mail...

should have better things to do with his time than post on Microsoft forums. He should also be well used to documents and packages being irrevocably lost. God knows, I am....

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WTF?

Re: Royal Mail

Maybe because Royal Mail look for more in their candidates for senior positions than their choice of backup software?

If you think they're wrong, next time you're up for an interview for, well, any job, chuck it in at the end that you use x backup software for your 2TB of porn, see how far it helps you.

Dick.

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Paris Hilton

Image Backup

I found a very decent and inexpensive replacement for Acronis a short while ago, and it is made in the UK - http://www.macrium.com. Highly recommended, it's fast, and if I haven't mentioned it already it's inexpensive. And something which the UK can be justly proud of.

Paris because when you suggest something to be proud of you really need to provide a balanced example.

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Not the first time

I used to use NTbackup to save the state of my XP machine. It typically took around 18 hours.

Using Ubuntu's simple backup took around 90 minutes. The data was substantially the same: an operating system, a slack handful of applications, and the same big bucket of photos and music.

Now for XP I use robocopy to make a file-by-file image, and sod the OS. Takes around 4 hours.

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Ubuntu

I think Ubuntu's default config backs up your /home directory and /etc, not the entire OS.

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WFM

Works beautifully for me -- maintenance-free automatic backup to an external hard disk.

That said, my system drive is an SSD, and all the data is on a secondary hard disk, so I'm probably hitting the sweet spot.

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Jobs Horns

What did you expect?

When you get a freebie in the cornflake packet, it is generally cheap and nasty. This jokeup software is a freebie as far as MS are concerned. Is anyone going to stop buying Windows because the builtin backup is a joke? No, I thought not....

Of course the fact that the previous conrflake packet gift was actually quite good was completely accidental and judged by management to be a serious mistake and MUST NOT BE REPEATED.

Time to buy an expensive and painful 3rd party backup solution then?

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FAIL

MUST NOT BE REPEATED?!

MS Backup does not work at all on Vista,

not Home, Premium, Business nor Ultimate versions.

Be aware that whilst it appears to work and gives a "Backup Successful" message, when you need to Restore you discover that it hasn't backed up many files such as .cfg .ini and many other files necessary for your apps to run, your music to play, or to view your photos arranged and captioned in albums or to view past email msgs.

In the UK if a product is not "suitable for purpose" you can ask for your money back, and I recommend this step.

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Stop

that is what a monopoly can do

Sounds simple but so true.

Microsoft is so much more concerned about making sure everyone has to purchase IE.

Making the monopoly product better or even workable is simply not considered.

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Grenade

Get a life...

"Microsoft is so much more concerned about making sure everyone has to purchase IE."

Hands up all those that paid for i.e? Thought not.

Same as those that "paid" for solitaire, calculator, notepad, lightsout, network connectivity, file browser and a f88King desktop image.

TYou're just a troll who likes to appear tough so his pasty mates think he's cool.

Get a life, get over yourself. if you don't want i.e., don't fucking use it or buy Windows, you have a fucking choice. You'll have to get use to making choices for yourself, as one day, mummy won't be there to hold your hand.

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Anonymous Coward

Moron

I think you need to get a life Anonymous Coward.

When you buy the operating system you also buy IE. It doesn't come free. Ok, you can get a free download from Microsofts website but the fact is you still paid for the original copy, just that the price was built into the cost of the 'operating system'.

The same goes for Solitaire, Calculator etc. If these were not included but came as a free download then yes, they would be free, but as they are built into the product at install time then they are not free but are part of the cost of the operating system.

Why are Microsoftees so thick that they cannot understand this? Why do you have to defend Microsoft so much?

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@AC 23rd June 2010 09:40 GMT : Wrong

Do you really think that when you pay for Windows (whether on a new PC buy or the full product) you are not paying all those programs you mention.

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Happy

Big data sets only

As Microsoft pointed out, performance issues do only seem to exist on very big data sets - Granted that the scheduling and configuration flexibility of the backup software is woefully dreadful and horribly confusing almost to the point of uselessness to a home user, especially where the differences between backup types are concerned, but speeds for a "regular" sized backup are nothing really to worry about.

I currently use the backup tool to generate a weekly file backup and system image, the system image totals about 130GB and the total size of the file backup is about 30GB (though as it's incremental there's maybe 1GB of changes on average week by week) and the total process takes a couple of hours, and that's writing the 130GB of system image and 1GB of incremental file changes over a 100mbit network to a set of slow raid5 disks.

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Big Data Sets

Ok, I'll bite. Thing is, 200Gb today is not a bit dataset.. even netbooks are getting setup with 160Gb drives, and they're not meant to do anything much.

In the era of 1Tb drives being the norm, 200Gb is not large by half.

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Biting back..

Just to bite back, though - The windows backup tool is, whether the rest of us like it or not, aimed primarily at home users, and aimed at backing up the operating system disk/partition in a machine.

In most cases, users tend to fall into either 1) a user that doesnt actually have much (<150GB) on their machine's only disk, regardless of how big it is, or 2) has lots of stuff, most of which is stored on a non-os disk, with the system disk/partition being, again, probably <150GB. User type 3 that has tons and tons of stuff floating round (>300gb), *and* has it all stuffed onto the same disk as the os, is, in my experience, fairly uncommon.

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Stop

Home OEM drive config

Au contraire, having everything on C: is the default configuration.

Even if the OEM has partitioned the main drive into C: and D:, "My Documents" (or "Documents" for VIsta-tards) is in the usual place on the system drive. Some less-well-written software gets upset if the user home directory isn't on the system drive.

So, in this scenario, the user's digital photos, music, and home videos end up on the system drive, and D: remains empty.

While MS don't have to provide a fully-functional, configurable backup system, they are just being careless if they don't provide some kind of one-click backup that works for the unclued.

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Anonymous Coward

"It is an insult."

has to be the most polite complaint about shoddy software I have ever seen in an online forum

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compression

I've not used Windows 7 backup but on other disk to disk backup solutions I've used I find that using a basic level of compression actually speeds up the backup as the amount of data that needs to be transferred and written to disk is reduced and this increase far outweighs the processor time required to compress the data. This is especially true for backups performed across the network.

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Agreed!

I use Acronis regularly and have noticed that setting compression to HIGH results in faster backups & restores, not the other way around as M$ is claiming. With the fast processors in today's PC's, on-the-fly compression is nothing...especially when writing to a USB or Networked drive!

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Gold badge

Pretty slow!

Regarding compressions lowing down backups.. well, that's pretty slow though! This guy with the 900GB backup started out (at the fast point) at about 2MB/sec. I can beat that on my Athlon XP 1800+, while using bzip2, which is know as a VERY slow compressor (there are compressors that'd be MUCH better suited for backups, and should most likely be disk I/O limited, and perhaps actually INCREASE backup speeds if the disk you are writing to writes slower than the read disk). Plus with quad cores, could the backup software not crunch on four files at once? Finally, it seems like poor design that larger data sets would slow it down -- I mean, obviously, twice the data might take twice as long, but it seems that Microsoft, and users, are saying the MB/sec drops off precipitously as the data set to be backed up increases in size. This isn't good.

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Push to Cloud?

Could this be part of a strategy to push users to "The Cloud" esp. the MS version?

"Don't worry. We'll back you up automagically!"

This does however point out the difficulty of having the extremely large partitions which 1TB+ drives make possible. Recently I've found myself leaning toward smaller primary partitions and placing very large datasets on separate volumes. Might note that I'm an Acronis user.

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Doubtful.

Automagically rarely comes along with "free" in the legitimate business world. I doubt Microsoft would let users backup to a cloud service, even with ad-supported service.

I think that most Microsoft developers make the same assumptions about their customers: make a copy of your personal folders and leave it at that... If your system goes belly up, reformat, reinstall Windows, reinstall programs and copy your personal folders back to the hard drive. (Yes, I know people like to not do this. I'm one of them.) Makes sense when they lock user permissions to prevent people from writing files to the main directory of the C: drive or Program Files, even if they're administrators. (Permission denied? I'm the Administrator, how much more permission do I need?!)

Most sensible thing for Microsoft to do? Get rid of the Backup program completely (which has been a joke since Windows 95) and tell users to go buy one. At least users aren't hoodwinked into thinking that the included one will work when it clearly doesn't.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

I must be like a bee that doesn't know it can't fly, then.

I back my internal drives up to an external USB disk automatically, once a week, using windows backup and windows scheduler- imaging the system disk, and backing the other (larger) one normally.

It has never been a problem, the first backup took a little longer, but I just went to sleep and it was done in the morning. I also got an involuntary chance to test the backups when my system drive carked out... booted from the Win7 DVD and was back up and running on the new disk in no time.

Still, there are always boundary cases, and this IS Microsoft we're talking about..

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Compression slowing things down? Not.

"Windows 7 Backup does compressed backups, which extends backup time compared to file copying..."

Only if you're still running Windows on a 286. On modern hardware it should make backups go faster, because disk I/O is the major bottleneck on backups. Unless they're doing some sort of super mega hardcore compression, this is not a factor.

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Flame

Windows Backup

Well, why don't I start with the bit that makes steam come out of my ears--the first reply in that thread from Microsoft? Now come on. Did that person even READ the original post? It DOES NOT MATTER how many "improvements" you made to a given program if it still doesn't generally work.

Okay...with that out of my system...I'm better now.

I know that at one time, Microsoft knew how to put backup functionality into Windows. Of course, they usually farmed it out to someone else, so maybe that is why it worked as well as it did?

NTBACKUP as provided in Windows NT 4, 2000 and XP has never failed me once...across disparate media types, full or partial restores...it always Just Worked.

Perhaps a little more surprisingly, so too did the M$-provided backup tool in Windows 98SE. I used it to do a number of partial restores before upgrading the hard drive in my then-daily-driver Compaq LTE 5000 laptop from a 3GB to a 12GB unit (those were the days...). I took a full backup, swapped the hard drives, reinstalled and updated Windows 98 and then I restored my fully backup.

One reboot later, it was just like I'd never left. Office 2000 was a little uppity, but it was nothing that a quick repair to the installation could not fix.

If I had to time or desire, I'd love to see if Windows 7 or Vista could do as well. The result might well be surprising.

Somewhere in here should probably be a suggestion that those who wish to backup their data should invest a little thought and time into what the best process is for them. A well thought out backup system will, in my view, work better than a point-n-go one...

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It's always been rubbish

I never tried Vista backup, but I gave up on Windows backup many many years ago, when they changed the format of the backup completely on every new version of windows, so that you couldn't back up your system, install the new OS, and restore your data. I think this is because they never actually wrote their own, they just bought a license to a crappy cut down version of some other backup program, and switched vendors with every new release.

Windows backup is for people who...Oh, heck, I don't even know. It's for nobody. Anyone who has data worth backing up should use something else.

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Anonymous Coward

No big datasets for you?

Obligatory observation: Even micros~1 doesn't believe in using their products for Real Work. Apparently.

There are numerous third party solutions, the simplest of which might be running clonezilla (free) possibly from a pxe boot image. Admittedly more of a "bigger hammer" approach, but at least you're reasonably certain taking the image will take bounded time and the image will restore too.

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Sly

Comodo backup

use this. ditch microsoft. comodo is free as well and actually works.

@M$ try this on for size... one long vacation (or several short ones) and an HD camcorder and you can easily get 100-200 gigs of home movie footage to play with. You would expect the user would want to back up those memories, but the data set becomes increasingly too large to store in a timely manner. I know of no person with the patience to schedule a weekly backup only to have the initial backup take 2-3 weeks to complete, leaving the computer essentially useless during that time. Stop smoking crack and try actually working on this POS software. I'm actually strting to miss Windows XP all over again. Linux is looking much better every day (and is already on a few x64 computers due to some of these "Vista" issues).

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Paris Hilton

I give a vote for Areca Backup

After hunting around for file level backup technology that would work across anything from antique windows to the latest thing, I would recommend ARECA Backup, free and open sauce. This is Java based so I can't reliably claim for its raw speed. It will even run on windows ME (or 98) with JRE-1-5-0-22 although classically the installer fails on pre-XP setups! Simply install the zip version instead!

On the micro$soft "solution" I suppose it could be worse, they might have failed to implement the "restore" function. Although as almost no-one has completed a backup...?

Paris - cos even she takes an acceptable image, and most commentards would rapidly be completely spent in her presence.

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Paris Hilton

"EVAR!"

at least get your spelling right: "Worst. Thing. EVAR."

Paris, because she wouldn't spell it wrong.

-ss

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Anonymous Coward

Cut down commercial product?

"Microsoft should have either purchased one of these companies or licensed a feature limited version of their technology."

That's how it works in Windows 2000 (the most recent one i have) - a cut down commercial product, which also reduces the aforementioned chance of an anti-trust suit.

Is it home grown in Windows 7? Maybe something they got a trainee to write for Windows Home Server when they'd finished on the file system bugs?

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they finished ...

... on the file system bugs?

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WTF?

900 Gigs ?

Anyone using Windows backup to save 900 GB of data needs their head read.

It's a consumer product and a compression based backup will crawl with that amount of data, just make disk images or get a RAID set up if your 900GB of files are so important.

Personally I've always used Acronis, I use it for customer backups and while there may be faster products out there Acronis is rock solid for reliability.

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Stop

RAID is not backup.

I'll say that again. RAID is not backup.

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Linux

It's when I hear nonsense like this ...

I wonder just what WAS wrong again with: tar pzcvf backup.tgz .

Or similar.

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Linux

Re : It's when I hear nonsense like this ...

Certainly when I had a Windows partition I used to back it up from a Linux partition

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Flame

Argh

After reading this article, I popped into the Backup application to check out its behavior. Turns out the network share to which I was backing up my data was no longer accessible since I changed my network password. No big deal, except that I'm on a domain, and Windows Backup should use my AD credentials, AND it never notified me that my backups were failing. Add my vote for this software being a POS.

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FAIL

Well....

....If you're going to use Microsoft in-built software for your back-up rather than buy decent back-up software you deserve all the hassle you can get

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WTF?

Yes, I remember Windows backup utilities

Last time I tried that nonsense I blamed my box of Floppy Disks! Sounds like it's still a piece of shit?

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Go

Huh?

Works fine for me. I have a rather simple installation with a few tweaks to make it run acceptably well on an AMD XP3200+ socket A CPU. Video card holds performance to 3.2 but I'm not a gamer. Four GB RAM may help; mine takes maybe twenty minutes or so to B/U to a third internal HDD and that's all the data I can force it to backup. Runs in background and even on the ancient CPU performance is not degraded noticibly.

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Coat

hahahaha *ahem*

well... what can I say. MS backup when I had windows some many years ago. I tend to find rsync on Linux works quite well, allowing full, incremental, and if you shut down your machine and start it up, backups can continue to work and carry one from where they left off.... I wouldn't expect any less from a backup...

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Hmm...

As a storage person, I'm not sure what I think about this one... On the one hand using compression on any backups cripples the performance (use hardware compression at your tape drive, if you have tape!) and if the software is sooo slooowwww there is obviously a problem. However, on the other hand, if the problem is only with such really large datasets you are either using a consumer product for a professional task, or you've got a seriously stable filesystem (such as photos, mp3s, videos, tv recordings etc).

Now, if you have that sort of system, just backup your OS drive with MS Backup and robocopy everything else. I'm guessing that people with such massive datasets would be fairly IT literate and therefore capable of writing a robocopy script.

Of course, if you had an LTO-4 drive and NetBackup...

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FAIL

It's definitely a piece of crap

The Win7 backup utility is horrendous. It is dog slow. Features do NOT work (set it to "overwrite" previous backups and it doesn't) as advertised. I have messed with it and messed with it....give me NTBACKUP any day over this steaming pile!

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