Vista "Complete PC Restore" won't recognize backup files.



    I recently used the Vista Ultimate "Windows Complete PC Backup" utility and I think I'm glad I did, If I could get the restore to work.

    I am running an Intel Q35 MB with Adaptec SCSI RAID and an SATA drive that I use to backup to. The RAID totaly crashed and required replacing of a drive but unfortunatly required formating as well. No problem, I just backed everything up right? Well it would be OK but when I boot off the Vista DVD and use the system repair options to perform a complete PC restore I get the following error:
    "No valid backup locations could be found."
    Now I know the backups are there because I can use the command window and CD to the drive their on and see them. The files are there why won't the Restore see them?

    Is there a way to "force" it to use the backup?

    Is there a way to "point" it to the backup? 

    All neccessary drivers are loaded and all the drives are visible. What am I missing?


    Thanks in advance.

    Monday, January 28, 2008 5:45 AM

All replies

  • It would seem as if we have exactly the same problem, with no reply in sight!?!


    Will you let me know if you get a response anywhere else? and I'll do the same?




    Monday, March 03, 2008 9:29 AM
  • Can you please let me know as well I am having the same issue!


    Thursday, March 06, 2008 7:36 PM
  • I'm having the same problem as well.


    The machine (Lenovo X61 Tablet) was backed up to a second hard drive while running Vista Business.


    Installed Server 2008 played with Hyper-V a bit then decided to restore the Vista build.


    I attempeted to restore by booting from from Vista Enterprise Media and selecting restore entire computer got the error;

    "No valid backup locations could be found"


    But as with the earlier posts I can locate my backup folders on the second hard drive from the command prompt.


    So I figure it may be I need to restore from Vista Business media... DLing it now.



    I'll need to find some way of restoring the image manually.


    Thursday, March 06, 2008 11:31 PM
  • OK so I can confirm it's not dependant on which Media you from. Ultimate, Enterprise, Business it doesn't matter... There are issues using the x64 install media to restore x86 images, but you'd expect that.

    Friday, March 07, 2008 2:39 AM
  • Still grinding on this issue Sad


    I've discovered the command line tool is called WBADMIN.exe (this can be run from the command prompt in the system recovery options)


    I'm handing it this;


    wbadmin start sysrecovery -version:03/05/2008-01:31 -backuptargetBig Smile:


    Looks like it SHOULD work but doesn't... going to try different media again.


    Let me know if you guys have any luck.

    Friday, March 07, 2008 4:53 AM
  • Man I'm spamming this forum... But hey SOMEONE may find this useful.


    I've got the restore running now I used the following command;


    wbadmin start recovery -version:03/05/2008-01:31 -itemtype:volume -items:c: -backuptargetBig Smile: -recoverytarget:c:


    NOTE you need to pull the version from the command;


    wbadmin get versions


    It's running now... Will let you know if it works.


    Friday, March 07, 2008 5:33 AM
  • Yup that worked!


    I'm off to the pub to shout myself a well earned beer!


    Friday, March 07, 2008 5:50 AM
  • This is strange but it seems to be working...


    I created a set of restore disks using 2 DVDs as expected.  Because this is on a laptop going to a remote site without an IT department, I decided to test this out before shipping it.  Upon beginning the Windows Complete PC Restore, I recieved the same error as the rest of you, it would not recognize that the disk which I had just created was in the drive.  After a bit of fumbling around, I decided to try the same process with disk 2 instead of starting with disk 1.  It recognized the disk immediately and began the restore process.  After a moment I got a popup saying that it was not the correct disk.  At which point I replaced disk 2 with disk 1 and it seems to be reading off the disk and performing the restore.  


    I'll update this post once it completes.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:01 PM
  • There seem to be a LOT more complaints about this around the web than there are solutions!  Where is Microsoft!!


    I had Vista set to back up daily to an NAS device.  Smart, right?!  When a system failed my heart didn't even skip a beat.


    Well, first of all there's no method in Complete PC Restore to install NIC drivers so that it can see the backup drive across a network.  That's bad enough, but it turns out that network access would probably not help anyway!  I put a complete copy of the backup files onto a spare hard drive and installed it into the failed computer.  Complete PC Restore can't see any "valid backup location" on that drive, although I can see it and its individual files just fine when I allow re-installed Vista to start up.  I copied those files to the failed system's D:\ drive... no joy.  In desperation, I copied them to the C:\ drive (even though the 92Gb backup files fills almost 2/3 of the drive) and it can't see them there either.


    The radio button allowing me to specify a location for the backup, which I've seen in an screen shot elsewhere on the web, does not appear.  The fields into which I might type details of a backup location are greyed out and will not accept input.


    Microsoft, is there any way to recover from this disaster?!!


    Tuesday, April 08, 2008 5:17 PM
  • So I'm not the only one - nearly 400 GB of an image backup on another hard drive that Vista Ultimate cannot find to restore my system. Even if it finds it at this point I'm not sure restoration is possible. What is there about image backups that seduce us into thinking we can actually restore a crashed system easily? What a maddeningly frustrating situation, and what a farce of a "system reconstruction" backup system. I'm really disappointed in MS on this one; the whole process of restoration is so "automated" that you can't simply navigate to a backup file; you have to depend on "something" with little to no flexibility. Heart-breaking, really.



    Monday, August 11, 2008 5:23 PM
  • nateodo's post from March 13 worked for me as well with a 5 dvd backup set.  First, I put in disk 5.  It initially accepted the disk and looked at it for a second, and then it said that it was the incorrect disk.  Then I removed disk 5 and inserted disk 1, and then continued with disks 2-5 after that.  I guess it needed to start on disk 5 to verify that it was a complete set.

    There must be a bad message in the program -- when it says "incorrect disk' it really means 'put in the next disk'

    So, this technique works fine!

    Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:29 AM
  • There is a bit of a trick to this that I found after screwing around for a couple of days (sigh). The primary problem that I had was an inability to enumerate the backups on other hard drives. Then, following some of the info from some of the posts here I looked into wbadmin. I looked it up on the Microsoft site and found a list of applicable commands - which I was also able to see by typing WBADMIN /? at the command prompt that I selected as a repair option after booting the Vista CD. You'll have an easier time of it if you pull that doc from MS, by the way.

    Among the commands allowable under Vista were two that did the trick, one that discovered the hard drives in the system, and the second one, "Get Versions." After closing the command window, I went back into the automated restore process from the CD, and badda-bing, there was the backup, correctly enumerated and available to me.

    From that point, the restoration proceeded along just fine, and my almost 400 GB of backed up data was restored to another identical hard drive, and it booted up like a charm.

    The issue, and forgive me, but why hasn't MS fixed this yet, is as stated, an inability to enumerate the backup files. Whether this was because I had more than one spare hard drive in my system or because I had copied my backup folder to at least one other drive so I'd have a backup of my backup, I don't know, can't say, and won't speculate. Obviously it is a problem for more people than just myself. The "trick" if it is such was enumerating the drives and "getting the versions" from within wbadmin, which for whatever reason and however it did so made the automatic enumeration of the backup images appear within the automated restore process.

    Just a comment, but would a browse button have been too much to have included, or was the restore process considered so "foolproof" that it inadvertently became "foolhardy?" Speaking as the prince of "if you want a computer really screwed up, just give it to me for a few weeks and I'll break it in ways that the designers never imagined" - and then find ways to fix it than seem otherwise unrelated, utterly logical, but otherwise arcane. I've had something like 30 years in the PC, communications and network business, and the only reason I don't crown myself King is that there has to be someone out there better at it than I am. I've also been one very good troubleshooter, mostly because I'm just stubborn enough to always fix my screw-ups and in the process have learned a lot about fixing arcane problems. This one had me stumped, but forever is only if you give up, and I don't give up.

    I just hope that MS reads this and adds a browse button or looks into the enumeration process to make sure that any and all contingencies are covered, but mostly, I hope this helps someone out there with an unrecoverable but perfectly good image backup that they can't now restore. Cheers and good luck.


    Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:59 AM
  • i have got the same problem as u guys...
    however there seems to be a problem when i use the "wbadmin get versions" command...it just says that "ERROR-no backups found"

    so i cant get the version and move on to the next step...please some body help me with this...i am getting all crazy with this now...eeeeeeeeehhhhhhh....
    Monday, August 25, 2008 1:48 AM
  • Please search the MS site for information on wbadmin - then, first, you have to list the disks. And, if you're using Vista, as stated in the documents, you can't use wbadmin to do a system restore; that function only works for Server 2008.

    However, as I noted, if you can't enumerate the backups using the Vista restore, FIRST use wbadmin to list your hard drive(s) and then enumerate your backup(s). THEN, close the "command window" (type 'exit' on the command line) taking you back to the list of choices from the repair window. Select the restore option, and I think you'll find your backup(s) listed then. Then, Vista will actually restore your system from the image backup.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008 8:28 PM
  • I actually fixed my problem already...i had installed windows vista ultimate so could access windows on C...so went into windows and opened disk management from computer management and activated my backup drive...restarted my computer and it went straight into the backup drive and then could use it restore my computer to its orignal factory settings...

    anyway thanx for the help....
    Wednesday, August 27, 2008 12:03 AM
  • Just a general observation on the source of the problem:


    I'm pretty sure this is occurring when you move the backup image to any directory other than where it was originally.


    Sorry for the rant, here, but seriously! Why should anyone need a command-line fix for this? That little oversight on MS' part has crippled this program. Furthermore, it makes no sense that this hasn't been patched -- or even responded to in the forum! At this point MS really needs to fire the head of the team that built it -- or whoever isn't giving them the time to fix it. I'm going to email them, if I can find the "CompleteCraP Backup Team Blog."


    Thanks a million for the webadmin tip. A clearer walk-through would be helpful, but I'll look at the documentation. Now let's find out how many times you can botch this "solution" before the backup works as it should.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:10 PM
  • Could you say more about how you "activated" your backup drive? I'm trying to restore my system from 2 DVDs (although I could conver them to a USB hard drive, I think), and I feel like I've been beating my head against a wall for days. Did you do a restore from a DVD, an external hard drive, or a different partion of your local drive?

    Thanks for any insights!
    Wednesday, September 24, 2008 4:42 AM
  • http://www.dellcommunity.com/supportforums/board/message?board.id=vista&message.id=11992&c=uk&l=en&cs=&s=gen

    Here is a much easier solution, simply boot to a Vista DVD or Recovery CD and menu to the Command prompt.  

    Enter these commands...

    Format C:
    D:\Tools\Imagex.exe /apply D:\dell\Image\Factory.wim 1 C:

    Don't skip the format, it didn't work for me without it, also you might want to add the /Q for quick format.

    So easy after spending 3 days searching...  Good luck!

    • Proposed as answer by NathanDoesIT Friday, March 04, 2011 9:44 AM
    Wednesday, September 24, 2008 9:57 AM
  • For anyone who did their "Complete PC Backup" to an external/secondary drive, you *MUST* keep the folder structure intact (e.g. e:\WindowsImageBackup\pc_name\Backup 2008-09-29 231110). I made the mistake of just copying all of the "pc_name" folders to a network locatiion, then when I actually needed to do a restore omitting that first level. Cost me a couple hours to figure out the cause (ruling out failure to mount the drive, corruption, etc...).

    • Proposed as answer by ITLeader Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:14 AM
    Monday, September 29, 2008 3:38 PM
  • How you finally fix the problem after the mistake of omitting the first level in the copy paste?
    Sunday, October 12, 2008 9:43 PM
  • Could you explain how to list my hard drives and enumerate the backup with wbadmin? I run it and used the get version and doesn't recognize it
    Sunday, October 12, 2008 10:13 PM
  • Hello I have the same problem of not recognition of the backup file. I tried wbadmin but it recognize other backup, but not the one that I need. Please if somebody could help me will be great. I have Windows Vista Ultimate

    Thank you,

    Sunday, October 12, 2008 11:50 PM

  • Don't waste your time with wbadmin...from what I understand, it's only for 2008 server.  Just use the info I posted earlier and reference this link.


    Here is a much easier solution, simply boot to a Vista DVD or Recovery CD and menu to the Command prompt.  

    Enter these commands...

    Format C:
    D:\Tools\Imagex.exe /apply D:\dell\Image\Factory.wim 1 C:

    Don't skip the format, it didn't work for me without it, also you might want to add the /Q for quick format.

    So easy after spending 3 days searching...  Good luck!
    Monday, October 13, 2008 6:37 PM
  • It took me 1 week to get Vista Complete PC Backup to work for me... but I did it, and that's what counts.

    Here's what happened:
    1) I got a message from Vista one day that my hard drive's SMART feature detected bad sectors.  It screamed "BACKUP NOW" and led me through a series of steps to run Vista Complete PC Restore.  One of the steps involved printing out instructions on how to replace your hard drive.  I printed them, but the only instructions were to contact the computer manufacturer.

    2) I purchased a new hard drive with more capacity (320 GB versus the 240 GB on the old one).  I have an external 2.5" USB hard drive case, so I put the new drive in the case.  I partitioned the new hard drive with the 2GB Dell Rescue partition, and divided up the rest between a drive C and a drive E.  This was basically the same setup as my old drive, but C and E were a bit larger. I formatted all the partitions.

    3) I remember having a horrible time using a Microsoft backup product in an earlier OS, So, I tried to use Norton Ghost.  No matter how many options I tried, Norton Ghost failed this time every time.

    4) I then used the Vista Backup and Restore Center to run Complete PC Backup and backed up OLD C on to NEW E.  This went smoothly.

    5) I removed the old hard drive and put the new one in.  I booted from the Dell Vista system CD.  I used the "Repair" option and tried to use "Complete PC Restore".  It detected my backup file, but then gave me an error message:

    There are too few disks on this computer or one or more of the disks is too small...

    6) So, I took my OLD hard drive, put it in the 2.5" external USB drive case and plugged it in.

    7) I booted again from the CD, ran the repair option, and Complete PC Restore.  This time, things LOOKED like they were going smoothly at first, but then the operation failed.  I looked at all my drives and realized that Vista had tried to restore my system BACK to OLD C on the OLD drive with the bad sectors.  In doing so, it had reformatted the entire drive. Now I was in real hot water: I would have to get my backup to work or I would have to recover all the files from the OLD corrupted disk.

    8) So, I disconnected the OLD drive.  Now I just had the NEW drive in the laptop.  I consulted Google and came across a few sites like this one that talked about using command line features like diskpart and wbadmin.  I followed one set of instructions that suggested using the CLEAN option.  The CLEAN option works on the ENTIRE drive, not just the partition of interest, so these instructions led me to erase the boot sectors and file structure on the disk that held my backup.

    9) Now I had to recover my backup file from the deleted partition table.  I purchased Partition Table Doctor which was a complete piece of *** and a waste of $40.  I then purchased R-TT for the same price which worked GREAT!!  The only problem was that I now had a suspicion that Complete PC Restore required that the backup files be on a separate disk from the disk that they were going to be restored to.

    10) I went to Costco and got a 600GB external hard drive for $99.  I restored my backup files to the external hard drive.  I ran Complete PC Restore again and it could not find the backup no matter what I tried.

    11) I then suspected that the Complete PC Backup/Restore directory structure had to be intact for the system to recognize it. (I noticed this because the date format employed by the wbadmin command matched the format of the file folder, not the backup file itself.)

    12) I re-restored the COMPLETE directory structure of the Complete PC Backup/Restore to my 600GB external drive.

    13) I reformatted the NEW 320GB hard drive in the laptop and partitioned it.  I am not sure if this was necessary because when I ran Complete PC Restore again, it reformatted the NEW internal hard drive with the partitions that were on the OLD 240GB drive.

    14) ... and now I am typing this to you on my restored laptop.

    1) To successfully use Vista Backup and Restore Center / Complete PC Backup and Restore you need to back up to a physically different hard drive.  You can not back up to a different partition on the same hard drive.  So, if you are replacing a bad hard drive, you need to buy TWO new drives (one to hold the backup files, and one to restore to).

    2) You MUST leave backup directory INTACT from the root of the drive downward.  DON'T take the huge image file out of the nest of folders that it is in. (The folders have magical backup properties.)  Don't put the backup folder inside another folder (like "My System Backup"). Just leave the VISTA backup folder exactly like Vista left it, right in the root directory.

    3) You can then get a new hard drive or use the CLEAN feature of diskpart to erase the file structure of the drive that you want to restore to.  I then used the instructions below to format hard drive with the diskpart command, except I used a 120GB partition.  I called it "C" and made it primary.

    4) You will then be able to backup from the CD running the Vista Recovery Environment (VistaRE).

    Some people above asked how to get their new hard drive running.  Many hard drive manufacturers have a downloadable and bootable utility to do this.  If you don't have access to a hard drive setup utility, you have to have some bootable form of Vista (i.e. a rescue disc or the operating system disk itself).  I don't think that a vista backup on CD or DVD is a bootable disk.  All computers have some combination of keystrokes that you can press just as the computer starts up to allow you to boot from a CD.  On my Dell it is F12.  The rescue disk will then boot the system, and you will be in the Vista Recovery Environment (Vista RE).  You can choose the option "repair my PC", and go down to the command prompt line.   At the command prompt, things get a little trickier, because there are no more helpful and friendly looking windows boxes, and (as my example above clearly shows) you REALLY can erase your whole hard drive with a few keystrokes.

    You have to use the "diskpart" command exactly in the order described, unless you are pretty familiar with the recovery environment.
    I obtained this information from another Vista help site, posted by Viti Sintopchai:

    1. Choose Command Prompt in the Windows Recovery Environment menu

    2. Run diskpart, the disk utility. The goal is to create disk partitions/volumes structure that resemble the backup image.

    While I was inside DiskPart environment, I used the following commands:

    a) list disk to see the list of hard drives recognized by Windows

    b) The drive I wanted to recover was identified as Drive 0 (zero) so I used the command select disk=0 to make the drive active.

    c) Then I used the command create partition primary size=40960 to create a 40GB partition on that drive. (you can multiply 40960 x 2 to get an 80GB partition, x3 to get a 120, etc.)

    d) I used list partition to see the list of partitions on that drive

    e) The partition I just created was identified as Partition 0 (zero) so I used the command select partition=0 to make the partition active.

    f) I used the command format fs=ntfs label="System Drive" quick to format the partition, then I used list volume to see the list of volumes recognized by the system.

    g) The volume I just created was identified as Volume 1 so I used the command select volume=1 to make the volume active. Then I used the command assign letter=C to assign the C drive letter, which corresponds to the one in the backup image.

    f) I then use exit to quit DiskPart and another exit to quit the Command Prompt.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008 4:37 PM
  •  are you hiding the answer to your question? i just added my ownas unable to restore system from an hour ago nor can i use my back up disks!

    what ever you do do not download new driver 4.21 for back up restore driver as your old back-ups will not work properly! i need to get rid of this driver; sad/crying/yelling emoticon!
    Wednesday, March 11, 2009 5:26 PM
  • Guys vista needs to be trick to get it to work...this is how i did it my backup is on my 2nd sata internal drive...
    what i did was move the old backUP image (DONOT COPY IT WILL TAKE FOREVER) folder to a safe place that is not on your 2nd drive ,then you install a brand new vista when installs complete do a complete pc back up when back up finish remove the new image and put back the old one restar and restore and wala it worked..i only try it on from a 2nd sata drive havent done it from a dvd or external drive ...
    Thursday, August 27, 2009 10:43 PM
  • You are right on.  Once you correct the directory structure the PC Restore dialog will identify the backup sets.  Thanks for the tip.
    Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:15 AM
  • I would just like to say I hate you microsoft complete PC backup and I will never relie on you again.

    when attempting to restore just the files from the same flavor OS I get error: "not a valid backup"

    from Restore disk I have to put the last disk in first in order to recognize (doesn't work from the OS)

    from Restore disk - gets to the 10th disk(last) and 0x80070570 file or directory is corrupted and unreadable

    I did a startup repair and that gets it to boot to a black screen with cursor (explorer is not loading can't ctrl + alt + delete, nothing) 

    so I trailer the drive error: "Cannot access drive"

    so I access properties took ownership of the entire thing -minus a few(lot) of files that were still access denied

    Now I can access the PC but some files are corrupt can I force or extract the user profile from my backup disks I think there was more data then this?

    I am in the original OS that I took the backup and its telling me there is no valid backup which Microsoft says is "by design"

    Friday, March 19, 2010 7:14 PM
  • "what i did was move the old backUP image (DONOT COPY IT WILL TAKE FOREVER) folder to a safe place that is not on your 2nd drive"

    Actually, "moving" file(s) to another physical drive (as you describe) is, logically speaking, just a combined copy-delete operation; it will definitely always take LONGER than just copying the files.  Only if you are "moving" the file(s) on the same logical drive will "move" ever be a faster operation than "copy,"; in fact, "move" will be much faster than "copy" in this case because you aren't really moving the files at all, just changing their directory.  In other words, there is no such thing as really moving files; it's just a word used by convention (as is the word "files" itself).  There is copy (just duplicate), copy-delete ("move" to a different drive), and change directory location ("move" on the same drive).  Sorry if I belabor the obvious, but I thought this stuff was computer 101 and, therefore, known by all.

    Friday, July 09, 2010 9:47 PM
  • Everything else I have read so far about Dell Factory recovery is rendered obsolete with your post.  It isn't for the squeamish but is absolutely correct with the /Q of course.


    Format C: /Q
    D:\Tools\Imagex.exe /apply D:\dell\Image\Factory.wim 1 C:

    Friday, March 04, 2011 9:46 AM