Use command prompt to back up System-State data

If you're running Windows XP, when was the last time you backed up the System-State data? If you don't have a clue, find out why you should and how to do it in this tip.

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System State data includes the following: boot files, including the system files; files protected by Windows File Protection; the registry; performance counter configuration information; and the component services class registration database.

The System State data does not represent the entire system. To restore a system to an operational condition, the boot files, system volumes and System State must all be restored together.

Restoration of the System State replaces boot files first and commits the system hive of the registry as a final step in the process.

System State backup and restore operations include all System State data. You cannot choose to back up or restore individual components because of dependencies among the System State components. However, you can restore System State data to an alternate location in which only the registry files and system boot files are restored. The component services class registration database is not restored to the alternate location.

Although you cannot change which components of the System State are backed up, you can back up all system-protected files at the same time as the System State data by setting advanced backup options.

The system-protected files only change if you install a service pack or application, or upgrade your operating system. Typically, the system-protected files represent a very large portion of System State data -- the default, including the protected files, is about 180 MB. Include these system-protected files only if new programs have been installed. Otherwise a restore causes the new application to fail.

To back up System State data using a command line:

1. Open Command Prompt.

2. To backup the System State data, type: ntbackup backup systemstate

Value Description
systemstate specifies that you want to back up the System State data.

When you select this option, the backup type will be forced to copy.

For information about additional backup options, see the ntbackup command-line utility.

For example, to create a backup job named "Backup Job 1" that backs up the System State data to the file C:backup.bkf, type:

ntbackup backup systemstate /J "Backup Job 1" /F "C:backup.bkf"

All other options will default to those specified in the Backup program.

Notes:
To open command prompt, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.

To view the complete syntax for this command, at a command prompt, type:

ntbackup /

If you do not specify the other backup options, ntbackup will use the backup program's default values for the backup type, verification setting, logging level, hardware compression and any other settings.


John Gormly is a regional technology director for a leading public accounting firm, a position he has held for the last 15 years. He is responsible for all aspects of technology, including PC support, LAN/WAN infrastructure, telecommunications, project management, training, IT deployments and personnel management.

This article first appeared in myITforum.com, the online destination for IT professionals who manage their corporations' Microsoft Windows systems and is also part of the TechTarget network of industry specific IT web sites. The centerpiece of myITforum.com is a collection of member forums where IT professionals exchange technical tips, share their expertise and download utilities that help them better manage their Windows environments, specifically Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS).

This was first published in May 2005

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