A story is making the rounds that Windows Vista Home Basic and Home Premium do not support backups, and that to properly backup or recover a system, a user would need to upgrade to a more expensive version of Vista. These reports are completely false.
Here's what's going on and why some people are confused: One of the differences between the high-end Vista versions (Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate) and the lower-end Vista Home Premium and Vista Basic is the Volume Shadow Copy feature. According to Microsoft's Vista feature explanation, VSC:
Automatically creates point-in-time copies of files as you work, so you can quickly and easily retrieve versions of a document you may have accidentally deleted. Shadow copy is automatically turned on in Windows Vista and creates copies on a scheduled basis of files that have changed. Since only incremental changes are saved, minimal disk space is used for shadow copies.
Although Volume Shadow Copy isn't specifically listed on Microsoft's page of key distinguishing features between the various Vista versions, the "Windows Complete Backup and Restore" feature is listed on this page, and it relies on Volume Shadow Copying in order to function. According to PCPitstop, however, there's a bit of confusion in Microsoft's decision to split Windows Complete Backup into a separate Vista product line.
Apparently VCS file versioning data is still created and stored regardless of which OS flavor you're using–but said versioning data are only usable for restoration if you're using Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate. Ultimately, I disagree with the authors at PCPitstop, when they state: "Users shouldn't need an expensive upgrade to Vista Ultimate just to rescue their data backups."
The issue is much more complex, really. First, basic "backup" is indeed built into Windows Home Basic and Premium, and it allows you to create backup sets that you can store on a hard drive, CD or DVD. It's simply not the case that there is no backup option for these OSes, which sites other than PCPitstop have tried to argued.
Second, as VSC is not supported nor promoted as a feature of Vista Home Basic or Premium, end users aren't even aware that it exists. It's simply not the case that Vista says, "hey guy, I backed your stuff up but I'm not letting you get to it until you pay more money!" It's interesting that VSC is still running on these systems, but Microsoft isn't withholding anything from users that they promised otherwise. Yet looking at how this issue is being covered online, that's the angle most commentators are taking.
Backing up essential data has always been the responsibility of the end-user, and there are any number of software solutions available to accomplish this task, including the tools provided by Microsoft. While we don't agree with Microsoft's decision to keep this feature for only the high-end systems, that doesn't mean that Microsoft has abandoned anyone's backup needs.