Recently I was reminded yet again of why I purposely avoid Microsoft products altogether. I wrote a while ago about migrating a relative from Windows 2000 to Fedora Linux 14. The migration went well, and they are still today happily using Fedora 14.
Things have been smooth until recently, when they asked if I could restore some data that they had backed up with Windows NTBackup to a file, back when they had Windows 2000 installed. Being a proprietary format from NTBackup, I immediately knew I would have to use the NTBackup program to restore the data from the BKF file. I opened up VirtualBox running an XP virtual machine on their Fedora 14 computer for just such reasons, and after attempting to read the BKF file I got the error "The backup file contains unrecognized data and cannot be used.". Instantly my heart sank, as I was expecting it to be an easy restore job.
After reading and doing some research, I found that versions of NTBackup included with various versions of Windows, are not necessarily compatible with each other. Even this Microsoft KB article describes that versions of its own backup software are not compatible with each other. Their solution? Oh, just find an old computer running the old version, and restore from that. Seriously. After this letdown, I recalled an old Windows 2000 Server machine I had sitting around. After an hour or so getting this machine hooked up and running, I was able to successfully restore the data and no longer got the error. All of this, just to restore some files from a proprietary backup format.
This experience reminded me of why I dumped Microsoft products years ago. The worst part if this experience was that I was the one that recommended the use of NTBackup to make a backup of their files. It's embarrassing to recommend a product, only to have it come back and throw a pie in your face. A vendor that releases products, that are simply not compatible (or at least backwards compatible to some degree) with each other is just plain absurd. The answer on Microsoft's website made this one even more aggravating. And after explaining this to the user, they too were reassured more than ever that by staying on an open platform like Linux, is the safe way to go for backwards compatibility and to keep data safe. I recently posted my own solution for backing up data from and to Linux, which is the only solution I trust.
I was very close to using the "mtf" utility on Linux to read the BKF file, however it did not come to this. I have used this utility in the past to try and restore corrupted tapes that were written using NTBackup.