Sunday, July 07, 2013

Do not use Windows 8s "Windows 7 File Recovery"

Windows 8 carried forward the disk imaging backup and restore feature from previous versions of Windows. They call this "Windows 7 File Recovery" as it's a feature Microsoft hopes to remove in future versions of Windows. When trying out Windows 8.1 I can confirm that it's gone. This is warning to anyone to stay far far away from this method of backing up your data. In fact, Microsoft leaves you high and dry in terms of proper disaster recovery for your system in Windows 8. Yes, your personal files can be backed up using their File History feature, but that's not the same thing as a full system restore.

Windows disk image backup is severely broken. It expects your drive configuration to be the same as when you made the backup. If anything is out of place, you will get the following error:
Windows image restore (Error code 0x80070057; "the parameter is incorrect")
What this error means, is that the number, type, size and order of the drives as they were when you made the backup are not the same as they are now.There is no way I could find to see what that was during backup. There is no way to manual write the image file to disk and no way to properly convert the backup VHDX file to anything usable. This means, that if your primary drive dies, and you get a new, different one, you won't be able to simply re-image the drive. What's worse, is that I made this backup less than one week ago, but even having a memory card in a reader can screw things up.

So my files are safe. The reason I'm restoring is not due to hardware failure but me simply screwing around. I haven't lost anything other than hours of time. I've learned a valuable lesson, do not trust Microsoft with your data, they will find a way to screw it up. Chose a reliable 3rd party tool to do your backups. I'm probably going with Clonezilla.

No comments: