Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

To simplify backing up a laptop (Windows Vista), I'm planning on sharing its C: drive (with password protection) and using that to back it up from another computer.

What are the security implications of this? If I share C: with a reasonable password, how big is the risk of compromise if the system is e.g. inadvertently used on a public WLAN or similar?


I'm planning to use [Areca Backup][1] to back up two systems (Windows XP and Vista). My current plan is to install Areca on the XP box, and share the Vista system's C: as a shared folder, so the XP system can read it.

Then I can set up the drive as a network drive and have Areca read it like a local drive.

Of course, if you can think of a more elegant way of doing this, I'm open to suggestions.

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You will probably find that Areca won't be able to reliably back up that drive, even though it's mapped as a drive, because it won't have access to files that are in use. To get a reliable backup of a running system, you need something that utilizes the Volume Shadow Copy service on the system. Areca Backup doesn't appear to support the Volume Shadow Copy backup.

Sharing the C drive shouldn't be an issue. As others have already pointed out, Windows automatically shares the C drive under the hidden C$ share to administrative users. As long as you have secure passwords on the shares, you should be fine. It's also good practice to make sure you always install the Windows updates promptly after they're released.

If it were me, I would utilize the Windows Vista System Backup software that comes with Vista to create a system image or regular backup to a share on the XP system. Using the backup routines with Vista provides some of the same benefits as Areca:

  • You can restore various versions of files individually (through the Previous Versions tab in Explorer).
  • It only stores the changes. For example, the first backup will store a complete copy of everything. Subsequent backups will only store those files that have changed.

I don't like the lack of control I get over which files are backed up, so that may be a good reason to choose something like Areca. For most users, however, the Windows Backup that comes with Vista is adequate.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the info about Windows Backup. I prefer a cross-platform solution, but I'll look into it. – sleske Dec 7 '09 at 1:18
About reliable backup: I don't need bare-metal disaster recovery, just a backup of user data. I'm just backing up everything in case a mis-behaved software (or a mis-behaved user ;-) puts important data outside of "Documents and Settings". So a few skipped system files are ok. – sleske Dec 7 '09 at 1:20

If you want to enable Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) features on Areca-Backup, there is a plugin (ArecaVSS) for that. It's not free though.

share|improve this answer

Sharing the C drive sounds like an issue. There is the possibility that some exploit would be able to do significant damage.

Why not create a folder on the system and then share it? You can then apply NTFS permissions and share permissions that allow backup data to be written but keep the OS safe. Create an account with a password on the Vista host that has the ability to write to the folder and use that to connect from the other systems. Map the shared folder on the required systems and you should be ready to use the backup software

share|improve this answer
No, I want to share C: so the other computer can read it to back it up. I could share in the other direction as you describe, but then each computer would need its own installation of the backup software, which I am trying to avoid. Still, a good idea. – sleske Nov 16 '09 at 22:55
Still a bad idea to sahre C but you can easily access it if the user doing the access has admin rights. Simply use UNC \\computer name\C$ ( you can use IP as well \\\C$) Would think this is much more secure. – Dave M Nov 17 '09 at 13:19
@DaveM: Thanks for the info about the $-shares, didn't know they were always active. So I don't even need to explicitly share C:, it's already shared. – sleske Nov 19 '09 at 9:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .