Q. Recently, I upgraded from Win7 to Windows 10. Now I’m having a problem doing full backups to a 2TB USB 3.0 drive that’s attached to a router. The PC sees the storage drive and seems to be making File History backups. But the full Backup and Recovery (Win7) always fails to complete.
My PC has one physical hard disk, with a C: partition and a System Reserved partition (an old unused Win 7 restore area). Before upgrading to Win10, I was able to back up Win7 to the USB drive. Any idea why the full backup is failing?
A. There are several possibilities — and, fortunately, there are easy remedies.
To start, for the Win10 backup system to work, the target drive must have sufficient free space to hold the backup. That’s obvious, so I’ll assume this isn’t the problem.
The target drive also must be in the NTFS format; if the drive is using anything else, your backups will fail. To check how your drive is formatted, open an admin-level command window and enter chkdsk X: — where X is the letter of the drive you want to check. The first line of the chkdsk report will tell you how the drive is formatted.
If the drive is NTFS, then go on to check for other common forms of disk trouble. For example, run a diagnostic utility.
If the drive has the right formatting and is healthy, run Windows’ System File Checker to verify that the PC’s system files are intact. Type sfc /scannow in an admin-level command window.
If those steps don’t solve the problem, the trouble might lie in the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which creates temporary, live copies of files that are locked or in-use, so they may be backed up. Sometimes, problems with VSS can cause odd backup failures.
TechNet’s “How Volume Shadow Copy Service Works” describes the service fairly well. However, the best source I’ve found for VSS fixes isn’t (oddly) Microsoft; it’s Macrium, a third-party vendor of various backup tools and utilities.
Macrium’s “How to troubleshoot Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service errors” contains a wealth of information plus a link to an excellent and free “Volume Shadow Copy repair module” (also contained in Macrium’s Reflect imaging/backup tool).
And that leads to a final fix that should work in virtually every case, even if the aforementioned solutions don’t. Try a third party tool. Not surprisingly, Macrium is a fine choice; the company knows Windows backup operations about as well as anyone, and its Reflect software is great for both creating whole-system images and for routine, standard backups. It’s available in a free edition and a free-trial/paid edition.
But if you don’t like Reflect, there are other Win10-compatible backup tools available such as Acronis True Image. A quick Web search will reveal plenty of others.
So, fix Win10’s built-in backup tool if you can — but don’t beat your brains out over it. If you can’t get it to work after a reasonable amount of effort, simply switch to a good, third-party imaging alternative.
Combining Win10’s high-frequency File History backups with reliable, periodic imaging will make your system just about bulletproof!