Restore a Windows XP backup in Windows 8

If you are using Windows XP and regularly backup your data to an external hard disk using Windows XP's Backup Utility, chances are that you imagined that when it was time to move to a new Windows 8 computer, you would simply restore your backup into the new operating system. Or maybe you have found yourself with a completely dead Windows XP computer and all you have left is your trusty external hard disk containing a recent backup created with Windows XP's Backup Utility.
Regardless of your situation, you will not be happy to learn that Windows 8's backup and restore tools are completely different from the Backup Utility that came with Windows XP and as such the backup files are incompatible. You'll also not be happy to learn that while Microsoft provided supplemental utilities that were designed to allow you to restore a Windows XP backup in Windows Vista and for Windows 7; they haven't done so for Windows 8. And, to add insult to injury, neither of the previous supplemental utilities will work in Windows 8.

Fortunately, you will be very happy to learn there's a way that you can make Windows XP's Backup Utility run in Windows 8. Of course, I wouldn't recommend using it on a regular basis, but this technique works perfectly fine to restore a Windows XP backup in Windows 8.

In this article, I'll show you how to get Windows XP's Backup Utility to run in Windows 8. I'll then walk you through a restore operation and pass along some pointers as I do.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Caveats

You may have noticed that I specifically mentioned restoring data from an external hard disk. The reason that I did is because Windows 8, like Windows 7, no longer includes the Removable Storage Manager, which is required to restore a backup that was saved on tape. As such, if you need to restore a Windows XP backup that was saved on tape; you will need to restore it on a computer running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Getting Windows XP's Backup Utility

Getting Windows XP's Backup Utility to run in Windows 8 is actually very easy once you know how. As it turns out, Windows XP's Backup Utility only needs three files to run:

ntbackup.exe
ntmsapi.dll
vssapi.dll
Of course, ntbackup.exe is the utility's executable file, ntmsapi.dll is the Removable Storage Public Interfaces DLL file, and vssapi.dll is the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Requestor/Writer Services API DLL file. (Even though the Removable Storage Public Interfaces DLL file is required, you still can't restore from a tape drive in Windows 8.)

If you still have access to a Windows XP system, you can simply copy these three files from the C:\Windows\System32 folder onto a flash drive. If you don't have access to a Windows XP system, you'll discover that some enterprising users on Web have made these files available for download; just Google nt5backup.cab. The .cab file functions just like a .zip file, so all you have to do is extract the three required files. For example, I extracted the three files to a folder I created called NT Backup, as shown in Figure A.


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