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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    Windows 7 File Backup does not restore folder contents

    I've recently switched to Windows 7 and wanted to determine if the built in backup software would meet my requirements.

    I did some tests and was shocked to find that the File Backup feature does not restore backed up folders correctly.

    Here is an example which clearly demonstrates the problem:

    Create a test folder called C:\Test
    Create a file called C:\Test\Test1.txt
    Create a file called C:\Test\Test2.txt

    Do a file backup. First time, windows performs a full backup. If it's already doing backups, the new folder and files are included in a new incremental backup file set. You can see the backed up files in zip files on the destination disk.

    Now create a new file called C:\Test\Test3.txt
    Delete the file C:\Test\Test1.txt
    Rename the file C:\Test\Test2.txt as C:\Test\Test4.txt

    The Test folder now contains two files, Test3.txt and Test4.txt

    Do a file backup. Windows performs an incremental backup. You can see the backed up Test3.txt and Test4.txt files in zip files on the destination disk.

    Now do a restore operation. Restore the latest files to a new path, say C:\Test2, while retaining subfolder names.

    This is the resultant list of files:

    C:\Test2\C\Test\Test1.txt
    C:\Test2\C\Test\Test2.txt
    C:\Test2\C\Test\Test3.txt
    C:\Test2\C\Test\Test4.txt

    I believe that the folder should only restore the files which existed in the folder at the time of the last backup. This process has restored ALL files which have ever existed in the folder since the last full backup, including Test1.txt which had been deleted and Test2.txt which had been renamed.

    The restored folder contents do not reflect the contents of the folder which was last backed up. IMHO this behaviour is simply WRONG.

    This restoration of previously deliberately deleted files could be catastrophic. It's all very well for recovering accidentally deleted files, but if I clean up a folder and deliberately delete files, I do not expect them to subsequently reappear after a disaster recovery.

    I have researched the Windows 7 backup utility thoroughly and found there to be many problems (can't schedule multiple backups, no support for swapping off-site storage, limited control of full/incremental behaviour). However I have not noticed anyone observing this behaviour.

    Can anyone offer any explanation or workaround?

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  3. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I use 3rd party Imaging S/W for my system back ups. I have never had the success some had with Windows Backup and Restore. There are several great Imaging apps mentioned in the Maintenance forum for this critical chore. In my case Acronis True Image 2013 (paid app) fulfills the need very well. Others use Macrium Reflect (free and paid) EaseUS ToDo, Ghost, and others.

    The key is to create Images whenever the OS or apps change. At a minimum I recreate a new Image monthly right after patch Tuesday.

    I also use manual backups and monthly use of File History (Win 8 data backup app) for data as data changes more often than monthly.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

  4. #3
    New Lounger
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    Thank you for your comments. However I think that imaging software alone may not suitable for my purposes. While it is great for keeping a system backup for disaster recovery, it is not so good for backing up large file sets with selective restores.

    I do a daily backup of 375,000 files which occupy 450GB on 17 different volumes. On Windows XP I have been using an old version of Dantz Retrospect to do a full backup on Monday and incremental backups on Tuesday to Saturday. It typically uses 300GB to store the week's six backups on a 1.5TB external hard disk. I then swap this disk off-site and repeat the cycle on a second 1.5TB external hard disk. I repeat this two-week cycle with two further backup sets on each disk. So disk A stores weeks 1 and 3 and disk B stores weeks 2 and 4.

    This means that at any one time, I have daily backups for this week immediately available from the external hard disk currently attached. I can also go back to any earlier version of a file from this week or from 2 to 3 weeks ago. If I retrieve the off-site disk, I can go back to any version of a file from any day in the last four weeks.

    If my PC crashes. I have last night's backup. If my office is destroyed by fire or flood or if my PC and external drive are stolen, I have last week's backup off-site.

    Now I do not believe that imaging software can offer me this level of protection and versatility using two external 1.5TB hard disks as backup media.

    I have used Acronis True Image 2011 and would not trust it to look after my coat, let alone my business files. Despite its widely held reputation I found it to be full of bugs and that it simply doesn't do what it claims. I have been using it to put a weekly system image on the external hard drive, but it can't even do that reliably and without intervention and housekeeping from me (it's meant to limit its usage to 500GB, but it doesn't). It can't cope with the swapping of the destination disk, it couldn't cope with scheduling more than one backup task and it's continuous backup function simply doesn't!

    But that is not really the point. The point is that I believe that I need a file backup system and not (just) an imaging backup system. Maybe I'm just being old fashioned?

    To meet my requirements, imaging software would need to be able to do separate daily incremental/differential backups of 17 separate volumes (it would need to use incremental or differential backups to be able to fit six daily 450GB backups into 300GB storage). It would need to allow individual files to be retrieved/restored from any chosen backup. It would need to catalogue the backups so that they can be searched to find files within them.

    Windows 7 backup nearly does this with its scheduled imaging option and VHD mounting. I will certainly be using it for my system backups. But it blows it all by not allowing you to have more than one backup schedule or destination disk. And I'm not convinced it allows you to control when old backups are deleted.

    So back to the original point that the File Backup function of Windows 7 backup does not restore folder contents correctly. Is this really not an issue for anyone else?

  5. #4
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Your needs are very large. Perhaps someone else has some suggestions on data backup for this large amount of data. Your first post did not mention the quantity of data you are handling. The Images will handle backing up the OS and apps, but the data backup must be handled separately.

    In my case I do create a new Image monthly after patch Tuesday, but my data (located on a separate partition) is backed up using Win 8 File History, but my data is not nearly close to yours in size. My data is backed up more often than monthly, but not as often as yours needs to be.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
    Win 8 Pro (64 Bit), IE 10 (64 Bit)


    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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