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  1. #1
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    Mastering Windows 8's backup/restore system




    TOP STORY

    Mastering Windows 8's backup/restore system


    By Fred Langa

    Windows 8 has easily the most comprehensive backup-and-recovery system ever seen on a personal computer. With little user effort, and when applied correctly, Win8's built-in backup tools provide automatic, frequent, triple-data redundancy.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/mastering-windows-8s-backuprestore-system (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    My nephew was hit by the CryptoLocker virus last week. (yes it’s still out there.) All his personal data was encrypted. DropBox dutifully updated everything to the encrypted version. We’re still waiting for a full rollback to an earlier date. Which cloud backups have better and the best rollback?
    Also, if I have my original file and an encrypted version, you’d think a smart person with a computer could calculate that 3rd number, the key. Shouldn’t there be an app for that!
    DanShanis

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    Onedrive is perhaps the most confusing feature I've ever encountered, and MS certainly has made little effort to clarify it.
    The Langa article helped a bit--thanks.
    Here's one issue I have. In addition to the stand alone Ondrive folder in my laptop, there is a dup onedrive folder in users:

    c\users\me\OndDrive.

    On my C drive, I can open these files from that folder. But when I try to backup to an EXT drive, C to E, the same folder in E contains nothing but file names. They don't really exist. They have zero size. Worse, when I try to copy/clone to an EXT drive, the program halts due to so many errors. The report lists those phantom file names with nothing in them.

    So, Onedrive has now crippled my backup system. So I have to either understand onedrive and try to use it, or delete it entirely so my backup system works.

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    As usual Fred's article is well written, well intended and great advise to someone looking for a native backup solution. Thank you! Unfortunately, my experience with File History has been less than satisfactory with unexplained failures occurring after weeks/months of normal operation. Manifestations include files/directories that fail to get backed up and zombie processes that consume resources but perform no useful work. This is more prevalent when more than one user account is configured to use File History. Pretty big let down when you go to recover a file and find out File History has been off-line for weeks with no notification. The most serious failure modes apparently survive reboots with no overt notification. I suspect something gets written to the Windows Event log but it certainly isn't prolific.

    My solution is to image machines weekly with daily incremental backups. Storage requirements are considerably higher than File History but a high capacity external (USB) storage is dirt cheap. I happen to use Macrium Reflect but any credible imaging solution will get the job done. On occasion I copy a full image to another external drive and store it off-site (sneaker net). I also copy critical personal files to cloud storage at various intervals using several different methods. Most happen automatically but a few I need to kick off manually. Really depends on the application, data importance and whether pre-encryption is needed before copying to the cloud.

    Over many years I have had the need to recover individual files, full directories and entire machines. The method described above has never let me down.

    I recognize Fred's solution is fully automated as would be preferable by many users if it was reliable. My experience on several different personal and client machines has proven otherwise. Once bitten, twice shy ...

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    backing up Office Outlook Folders

    thanks for a thorough analysis.
    What I lack is how to backup my Office Outlook folders on the Cloud.
    Who can help me?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by [FONT=Arial


    [/FONT]Windows 8 has easily the most comprehensive backup-and-recovery system ever seen on a personal computer. With little user effort, and when applied correctly, Win8's built-in backup tools provide automatic, frequent, triple-data redundancy.[/td][/tr][/tbl]
    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/mastering-windows-8s-backuprestore-system (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).
    How does Onedrive/win8 backup system work with Outlook.pst files? I have found other cloud services not to deal with them. Too large a file, and constantly changing.

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    I really, really, really like Windows 7 System Image Backup and Restore system. I've used both several times. I've tried to find if Windows 8/8.1 has a similar system. O.K., I see how you do a System Image Backup with Windows 8/8.1. But, how do you Restore? Do you need to make a "rescue disk?" How?

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    Quote Originally Posted by astro46 View Post
    How does Onedrive/win8 backup system work with Outlook.pst files? I have found other cloud services not to deal with them. Too large a file, and constantly changing.
    Copying active .pst files to the 'cloud' is a bear in my experience. Many backup tools can't handle open files and those that do tend to see the file as a constantly changing blob which yields huge incremental uploads. I use JungleDisk for my business clients as it is one of the few services that utilizes 'data deduplication' which dramatically reduces online storage requirements. Unfortunately, JungleDisk hasn't been updated for several years and only supports Amazon S3 and 'Cloud Files' which is the default storage pool and a pricey alternative to S3.

    I don't depend on JungleDisk (JD) for most restores; I much prefer system images as noted in a previous post. However, JD provides a reliable and automated method for backing up hefty Outlook .pst files to the cloud. I'm sure there are a few other alternatives; perhaps someone else can post their experiences.

    Here's a bit more on data deduplication for the technically curious: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_deduplication

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Imaging When Encryption Containers Are Present

    For Windows Backup utilities, the article seems to be very good, and full of information I didn't know before. However, there is the issue of Windows Backup not handling Encryption Containers. There are workarounds, but these involve using third-party utilities or programs.

    Here are some articles from Windows guru Leo Notenboom (Ask Leo) which show how to deal with disk imaging where TrueCrypt or VeraCrypt Containers are present:

    http://ask-leo.com/can_i_backup_true..._software.html
    http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_back_up_...pted_data.html

    Note that if a backup program succeeds in backing up a disk which has used Whole Disk Encryption, that backed up Image Archive when restored will be unencrypted. The same may apply (or not) to Containers and their data, depending on just how the contained data was backed up.

    Macrium Reflect does confirm that their product can back up encrypted volumes, but that the resulting backups are unencrypted. Volumes (and Containers) must be unmounted to be backed up with Macrium Reflect.

    Point is, with third-party products (even the free ones) TrueCrypt/VeraCrypt Containers are not a problem -- as long as you unmount them before doing any backup operations.

    VeraCrypt is not exactly the same as TrueCrypt, but for backup purposes, it seems to behave much the same way.

    I think the advice to avoid using Encryption Containers is not compatible with the information provided by Ask Leo and the Macrium Reflect Support Forums. The use of Encryption Containers does complicate backups, but a good backup program will not be stopped by unmounted Containers.

    I leave it to readers to conclude what all of this means about the capabilities of the built-in Windows Imaging utility.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2015-01-16 at 14:25.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    I am aware of Macrium's guidance to unmount file based virtual disks before imaging a disk that contains the encrypted file. That said, I have never encountered a problem restoring the contents of a virtual disk even if it was mounted when the host disk was being imaged (which is often the case). I understand the risk, especially if the contents of the virtual disk are under going rapid change during the backup. My encrypted virtual disks are relatively small (1-2 GB) which limits the exposure window as they are backed up quickly.

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    Silver Lounger RolandJS's Avatar
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    DanShanis, getting back to your CrytoLock situation, there are a few no-nonsense CrytoLock utilities that will help in monitoring & prevention: CrytoPrevent, CrytoLockerPreventionKit to name a couple. I forgot where these originate from. True, it won't help the damage done presently, however, going forward, you might want to add these to your computer security collection. Regarding backup/restore, you might want to look at Acronis True Image 2015. It is not cheap for each computer; however, the price per Version is low when considering what happens if/when Windows Backup/Restore...doesn't.
    Last edited by RolandJS; 2015-01-17 at 09:21.
    "Take care of thy backups and thy restores shall take care of thee." Ben Franklin revisited.
    http://collegecafe.fr.yuku.com/forum...-Technologies/

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Point is, with third-party products (even the free ones) TrueCrypt/VeraCrypt Containers are not a problem -- as long as you unmount them before doing any backup operations. .
    I have backed up encrypted files [truecrypt] 100's of times and never had a problem. I know because I can open 'decrypt' them on the back up drive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Disabled Geek View Post
    ...But, how do you Restore? Do you need to make a "rescue disk?" How?
    I am in Win7, but have worked on many customers' Win8 systems.

    When you go into the Win8 dialog for creating backup images there should be a link in the left panel which you can use to "Create a system repair disk".
    Computer Consultant/Technician since 1998 (first PC was Atari 1040STE in 1988).
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    I think you do a disservice to your readers when you praise File History without warning them of the many problems associated with Microsoft's abandonment of support or even simple meaningful help. I recently had a disaster because of such a glitch in File History and research on other forums disclose many such problems.

    Besides the facts that File History has a history of failing without notifying the owner or specifying what is the causing the failure (usually, it's file name length) and giving just an Event ID 201 or 202 which Microsoft provides no helpful help for, there is the problem that if you don't shut Outlook down completely, including any other processes that may be using its files (e.g., CompanionLink or Cloudmark any pst files open in Outlook. Again, without notifying you.

    Also, on Windows 8, File History will not back up any Libraries not on Drive c:, while in Windows 7, it did and continued to do so when I performed an upgrade. So, I was seeing my iTunes library (resident on an external drive) being updated right until the day the external drive died. I was not pleased to discover that although I could see the iTunes backup files, File History could not see the library to restore them.

    I've had to wipe my FileHistory folders and start over a number of times since I first took your advice on its value. Now I've excluded the Outlook Documents folder and the Google Drive folder and am also using SyncToy (which you don't include as a back-up resources) to create another copy of my Libraries -- just in case.
    Last edited by rptimberwolf; 2015-01-19 at 18:50.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rptimberwolf View Post
    Also, on Windows 8, File History will not back up any Libraries not on Drive c:, while in Windows 7, it did and continued to do so when I performed an upgrade. So, I was seeing my iTunes library (resident on an external drive) being updated right until the day the external drive died. I was not pleased to discover that although I could see the iTunes backup files, File History could not see the library to restore them.
    Your statement about FH not backing up libraries not on drive c is incorrect. My data is on a separate partition and it backs those files up without any problem. I wasn't aware that file history was available in Win 7; are you talking about the 'previous version' function? This isn't the same as file history (which has an easier interface to restore old versions.
    I think that you're right about open files not being backed up, but I haven't tested this; others might be able to confirm it.

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