Problems copying files from a backup… restored by thinking laterally

This content is 17 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

I don’t generally talk about my work (at least not directly) on this blog but, a couple of weeks back, I moved into a new role, which is going to involve working very closely with a certain software company from Redmond (and no, it won’t have any effect on the editorial content here – nothing on this site should be interpreted as representing the views of my employer or their partners). Clearly running Red Hat Enterprise Linux on my laptop wasn’t politically correct (I might have got away with Novell Enterprise Linux) so I needed to rebuild on Windows Vista.

As many of my corporate applications still require Windows XP and IE 6, I run a domain-joined (Windows XP) virtual machine to access them. I had been using VMware Server as the host but as VMware recently sent me a license for VMware Workstation 6.0 (as a VCP benefit) I decided to use that instead following the Vista rebuild. I backed up the virtual machine files to an external disk, rebuilt on Windows (including reformatting the internal disk) got 94% of the way through the restoration of the VM and then I was presented with this message:

Error 0x80070079: The semaphore period has expired.

Not good. I was in the middle of a restore – those files were my backup and the three problem files represented 30% of the virtual disk that makes up my D: drive (i.e. my data).

I’d written the files without errors but clearly something was wrong when reading them. I thought of buying a copy of SpinRite to check that the disk was fine but, before parting with any cash, I tried reading them on another machine and thankfully they restored without any difficulty. I don’t know if the issue was with my Vista machine’s USB device drivers (the successful restore was on my wife’s Windows XP machine), a timing issue (my wife’s machine is older and the external disk was USB 1.1) or something else (like that this is a 60GB FAT32 volume and Windows has a limit of 32GB for FAT32 volume creation – as the virtual machine files totalled 36.5GB in size, maybe the three 1.99GB files that Vista couldn’t read were physically located across and after the 32GB point on the disk) but my experience goes to show that it’s worth trying another machine before giving up totally on the data.

4 thoughts on “Problems copying files from a backup… restored by thinking laterally

  1. I think that Vista has ‘issues’ with external USB drives. I’ve been struggling, using a USB disk to move data from XP to Vista (I gave up using the network, after the transfer speed dropped to a rate comparable to downloading Netscape over dial-up). FAT32 formatted with XP provided the most reliable transfer, but it wasn’t a 100%.

  2. Ycopy is a very good program, which works on Windows XP, and im surprised more people dont know about it. You can also download it from various freeware sites including Softpedia (ie contains no spyware)
    It facilitates copying files from one computer to another, making it faster and more accurate. However, Im not sure if it runs on Vista
    Product homepage:

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