Performing a Complete PC Backup from the command line

by Mitch Tulloch [Published on 21 May 2009 / Last Updated on 5 Jan. 2009]

Here's how you can perform a Complete PC Backup in Vista from the command line.

After you've made significant modifications to the configuration of your Windows Vista computer, you should perform a Complete PC Backup of the system. Complete PC does a block-level backup of your entire system volume as a .vhd (Virtual Hard Drive) file. Note that you need a second local hard drive available to store this .vhd file.

While you can use the Backup and Restore Center in Vista to perform a Complete PC Backup of your computer, you can also do this from an elevated command prompt as follows:

wbadmin start backup –backupTarget:Z: -include:C: -quiet

where Z: is the drive letter of your backup volume.

You can also use Task Scheduler to configure this command to run on a scheduled basis (make sure you configure the task to run using admin privileges). The first time the task runs, it backs up your entire system drive as a .vhd file. On successive occurrences it updates this .vhd file.

If you have feedback concerning this tip, I'd love to hear from you.

The Author — Mitch Tulloch

Mitch Tulloch is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, networking, and security. He has been repeatedly awarded Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status by Microsoft for his outstanding contributions in supporting users who deploy and use Microsoft platforms, products and solutions. Mitch has published over two hundred articles on different IT websites and magazines, and he has written or contributed to almost two dozen books and is lead author for the Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press. For more information, see .

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