Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't buy VISTA

UPDATE ! January 17, 2011

I've stumbled on a post describing which XP/NT Backup binaries and what Vista feature to enable so that the more user friendly XP/NT Backup utility can be run on Vista OS.. yay !


You know that PC vs MAC commercial in which the PC guy is deciding where to spend his pile of money ? "Marketing, Marketing, Marketing... (fix vista), Marketing, Marketing, Marketing...".

I now wish they'd done a better job on Vista.. forget about the 2 days it took me upgrade from Windows XP, re-installing apps and tracking down all the new Drivers required to get my applications to run on Vista..

Yesterday I really got bitten...

Windows update informed me that Vista Service Pack 1 was available and would I like to install it ?
I naively said 'yes'.. then all the trouble began (if I had bothered to check the web about 'Vista Service Pack 1', I would never have agreed to load it !).

After the download succeeded, the installation aborted and left me with an unbootable system. No repair modes, no safe boots, no nothing was going to get the thing going. OK, I have the original install disks, I just have to take the 6 hours it takes to install from scratch, then I'll do a restore from my full system backup from a few weeks ago..

6 hours later, with a bare system, I go to restore my system from my backups.
DING.. Vista will NOT recognize the backup files ! The restore User Interface gives you basically NO OPTIONS.. It's 'trust us, we know what to do'.. (apparently you DON'T know what to do, you can't even see your own backup files !)
Some poking around on the net and I see that I'm not the only one that has found out that their VISTA backups were invisible to the VISTA restore program. I find a command line tool 'wbadmin'.
Ah ha !
wbadmin is able to lookup the backup files. Now all I have to do is use 'wbadmin' options to find and restore from backups and I'm set.


While 'wbadmin' can find the backups, the restore functions are only enabled if you are running Windows Server 2008, you don't get to use them on Vista (because WE know what's best for you, and you don't need to know about this on VISTA) !

I'm completely hosed. The backups that I naively thought were protecting me from this situation are now sitting there useless and completely locked up.

This is all a shame really. Windows XP backups, for all their clunkiness at least allowed me to specify where the backups were and what I wanted to save/restore. I've successfully used XP backups after a disk crash and gotten my digital life back. VISTA has taken away all options with a simpler interface that is almost a binary 'do you want it or not' ? Taking away backup options is unpleasing to those of us that WANT the control. I can live with the loss of control if the feature basically worked, but it doesn't.

Luckily, most of my really important stuff is kept on an external portable drive that I backup separately (using Windows XP backup, BTW). It was a good move not to commit the really important stuff to be under the control of VISTA, or I'd really be in trouble.

OK. I've wasted a day occupied with this already...

A word of advice: Check around on the net before deciding to install VISTA Service Pack 1, and have your important stuff reliably backed up before you do install it. (I'm not going to install Service Pack 1.. BTW, now that I've started with a fresh install of old VISTA, Windows update informs me that I have 147 updates to download and install... fun !)

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