Backup software for Vista?

I want to install a copy of Ubuntu on my laptop.

However, when Vista was installed on it, a single partition was made of the hard drive so if I try to install Ubuntu now, it will overwrite the Vista partition (I assume, anyone knowing better, feel free to jump in!).

I presume that what I need to do is backup my Vista install, partition the drive into one partition for Vista and one for Ubuntu, restore the Vista into its partition and install Ubuntu into its partition.

Can anyone recommend software to allow me to backup my Vista install (including all my installed apps and settings), so that I can restore it again later.

In case it is relevant, I don’t have a floppy drive for the laptop.

Update – since posting this I came across Wubi – an Ubuntu installer which installs Ubuntu into a Windows partition. This could be an easier solution. I’ll try that and see how I get on.

18 thoughts on “Backup software for Vista?”

  1. I can’t recommend any software, but I did install Ubuntu on a laptop running Vista and the installer resized the Vista partition without a problem.

    Backup first though, I didn’t have anything on the Vista partition I wanted to keep đŸ™‚

  2. I can’t help with the whole backing up the system first. I hate messing about with the OS and disks, such a minefield but the software I used the last time when installing Ubuntu alongside WXP was Paragon Partition Manager. Phenomenal software that I’ve used to shrink single-partition disks and add linux/swap partitions.

  3. @Sean – fantastic, that’s reassuring to hear. I think I’ll go the Wubi route then. There’s far less chance of my hosing the Windows partition!

  4. Tom

    I would highly recommend installing Ubuntu using Virtual PC – a free download from
    Virtual PC is useful for all kinds of things, including installing linux distros. No need for any hard drive partition worries.

  5. I suspect Vista might have, built-in, the tools you need to install Ubuntu whilst preserving your existing Windows configuration, Tom.

    If Vista is installed onto a straightforward NTFS partition (i.e. no funny business on the part of the manufacturer with hidden partitions for system restores), then you will probably be able to use the provided Disk Management features to resize this partition to make room on the HDD for another; see I’ve used the feature for this very purpose, and it did the trick.

    Having done this, the Ubuntu installer can be directed to install its OS into the free space on the disk and it should more or less automatically configure a boot menu with an option to start Windows.

    Also, Vista’s “Backup and Restore Center” has an option to “Create a Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore image of your entire computer, which can be used to recover from a hardware failure,” it says here. I have not tried this, so can’t provide an opinion as to how good/bad/indifferent it is. But it’s there.

    Or, as Paul says above, Virtual PC is a perfectly good tool for playing with other operating systems, with none of the fuss I’ve described. Also one wonders whether, the machine having been provided by Microsoft for the purposes of receiving feedback on Vista, there aren’t clause(s) in the T&Cs precluding installation of other, non-virtualized, operating systems; perhaps as a condition for continuing to receive support?

    Think PC World and broken hinges..

  6. Tom,

    Alternative approach is to run Ubuntu *inside* Vista usual free tools such as Microsoft Virtual PC or VMWare (I tend to prefer the 2nd product).

    The advantage is that you can have ‘both machines’ open at the same time, and not to have to switch between them. I think the concept is broadly similar to Paralells for the Mac.


  7. Tom,
    Not 100% sure of vista but the windows XP install is a cinch.

    The Ubuntu LiveCD install allows you to boot from CD to play with Ubuntu. Once booted in LiveCD you can install from there. It includes gnome partition editor (gparted) which allows you to resize the existing windows partition.

    You need to select ‘specify my own partitions’ or something like that rather than the default for full control. This will install ubuntu on the new partition and grub (boot menu to select OS).

    I’m no longer using windows, and am kicking myself at the wasted disk I’ve given, so thats something to consider.

    If you decide to go the full way, VMWare server console is available for free and you can run windows as a virtual PC inside ubuntu.

  8. Guys,

    thanks a million for all the feedback and suggestions.

    I needed to be sure I didn’t damage the Windows partition because I have one or two programs on it which I need – specifically Pinnacle Studio video editing suite.

    I tried the Ubuntu Live CD but I wasn’t confident enough that the options given in the installer wouldn’t wipe my Windows partition so I backed out of that route.

    I didn’t want to go the VMWare/VirtualPC route because I wanted to see what Ubuntu’s performance is like when installed in its own partition.

    @Steven – there were no T&C’s precluding me from installing another OS on the laptop but thanks for thinking of it.

  9. As far as i know( never tried it)there is a way to run Ubuntu in a folder in windows as if it were a partition…..

  10. Hey Tom im looking for backup software myself havent found much yet but you can get a program called Partition Magic it is a grat program real simplet to use. What you can do is shrink the Vista partition and make another partition on the free space for Ubuntu. But with my personal experiance with Ubuntu and laptops its not really worth it because of all the hardware issues with laptops and linux. I tried PC Linux OS 07 it was a wicked os to use way way better then Ubuntu and very simple to use. Give it a go im sure you will be very impressed. Good luck from Zues

  11. I thing Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image is helful.But haven’t tested since i hardly encounter crashes.Don’t know whether it work’s or not in your case..

  12. The Windows complete backup is only available in Business, Enterprise and Ultimate versions, not the rest.

    To back up a Vista partition use the latest Acronis Tru Image!

    The reason why Ghost doesn’t work is that the partition is locked and Ghost can’t or doesn’t have the ability to unlock it.

  13. Vista Disk Management will allow you to shrink the partition affectively creating another partition.

  14. If you have vista installed,partition magic is out of the question since Vista doesnt support the app. Acronis Disk Director works perfectly but doesnt support dynamic disks(basic only). If you have one of the more premium versions of vista,then all you need is the native partitioning tool..

  15. Hey, well im not sure about vista but with XP (and im presuming all versions of windows) you should be able to install Ubuntu on your second partition and leave vista on your first partition. i have never done it but i have heard other people have so it should be possible

  16. Hello,

    No.1 I have Vista Home Premium and it DOESN’T come with anything like useful backup tools and system restore is not enough. So I too was faced with the same problem as you, i.e. what backup software will work with Vista OK. I tried a) commodo free basic backup but it failed, b) Western Digital’s own backup again not suitable and c) LaCie one point & click backup again didn’t fit the job.

    SOLUTION THAT WORKS is a Program called Version Backup LE (made for XP but works beautifully with vista) the downside is that the software makers have stopped making it availble as a free product for home use. The good news here is I can offer you a copy for nothing if this helps? Its a very good program too with very reliable track record. Let me know if you would like a copy. PS:- I’m using this on Vista currently and it works nicely.

    **YES! I highly recommend that if you want to install or play with Ubuntu DONT fiddle around with duel boot Vista/Ubuntu system. But do use the Microsoft Virtual PC as this allows you to run ANY OS even Linux as just another application as far as the hardware is concerned. Provided your hardware is suitable you can run multiple OS on a single box.

    Kind Regards from Ivan

    computer vetera, MCSE trained.

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