Backup Utility filling up hard drive

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Performance' started by Don Dinnerville, Mar 6, 2007.

  1. I have the Vista backup scheduled for a nightly backup, and after just a few
    days, it runs out of room on a 120 GB hard drive. It's backing up
    approximately 40 GB of stuff from my primary hard drive. Something seems to
    be wrong with the backup since it appears to be doing an entirely new backup
    every night, and not just backing up files that have changed.
    Don Dinnerville, Mar 6, 2007
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  2. We have a blog post about to be published tonight. Here's a preview below.
    Do any of these reasons apply to you?

    We’ve seen a number of customers ask why their incremental backups are
    almost as large as their full backup. This can be surprising on a lightly
    used system where you don’t change or add a lot of files between backups.
    Seeing files backed up that you know you didn’t change can be perplexing,
    but there is a good explanation: the files were indeed changed, either by a
    program or a perhaps inadvertently by a person. For example, any of the
    following actions can cause files to be changed and therefore backed up:

    *Antivirus programs writing to alternate streams on the files or programs
    that update media file metadata (ID3 tags, for example). Even right-clicking
    a file and viewing its properties can add an alternate data stream to the
    file, thus changing it.

    *Changing permissions on the parent folder or setting compression.

    *Moving the files to a different folder.

    Backup in Vista does not make any decisions about which types of changes to
    back up versus those to ignore--any file that is changed will be backed up.
    To determine if a file has changed, Backup looks at creation date,
    modification date, and last written to date (visible only programmatically).
    Backup does not understand any file formats and does not look in any headers
    to decide when to back up a file, nor does Backup use the archive bit.
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Mar 6, 2007
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  3. Jill,

    The only one of those things that jumps out is regarding media files. I
    synchronize my Widows Mobile device, including a group of playlists from
    Windows Media Player. Is it possible that the synchronization could be
    causing the backup utility to see my media files as having been updated?

    Either way, how about an option to simply have the backup overwrite previous
    backups each night? That way it won't keep expanding to fill the hard drive
    no matter what it sees as updated or not.
    Don Dinnerville, Mar 6, 2007
  4. If you're willing to share your backup catalog with us, we can tell you
    whether your theory is correct. It would be interesting for us to know if
    this is the case so we can share this with other customers. I can provide
    instructions on sending us the catalog (this doesn't include your actual
    data). I will pass along your feedback to the team as well.

    You could always deselect the Music option in Backup and use, say SyncToy to
    keep a backup copy of your music. This is what I do myself at home. I have
    an external hard drive and periodically I use SyncToy to resync my main hard
    drive (with existing and new music) with my external drive.
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Mar 6, 2007
  5. Jill,

    I'd be happy to send whatever you need. Please email me the instructions.

    Also, can you please send me a link to SyncToy so I can learn about that?

    Don Dinnerville, Mar 6, 2007
  6. Here's a link to SyncToy:

    And here are the steps to getting the catalog files. If the files are too
    big to email, let me know and I will send you FTP info. My email address is
    correct minus "online."

    1. Start the command prompt as an administrator.
    2. Type the following text:

    cd /d "c:\System Volume Information\Windows Backup"

    3. Type the following text:

    CD catalogs

    4. Now type "dir" and press Enter. You should see two catalog files listed.

    5. Type the following:

    copy *.* c:\

    6. Zip up those two files and email them to me (remove "online" from my

    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Mar 6, 2007
  7. Jill,

    I'll email the file. It's fairly large (18 MB), so if it doesn't go
    through, I'll upload to my website and send you a link.

    Don Dinnerville, Mar 7, 2007
  8. Don Dinnerville

    HEMI-Powered Guest

    Today, =?Utf-8?B?RG9uIERpbm5lcnZpbGxl?= made these interesting
    comments ...
    Why on earth would you even try to backup your entire system every
    night? But, Windows backup utilities are notoriously S-L-O-W and
    very inefficient.

    First, image your C:\ partition regularly, then do full backups of
    your DATA to some external source, maybe starting with you HD, then
    going to an external HD and optical, then do regular incremental
    backups. You're killing flies with a thermonuclear bomb here, the
    same as them who have nightly defrags scheduled.
    HEMI-Powered, Mar 7, 2007
  9. Got it! I've asked a developer to take a look. Give us a couple days :)
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Mar 7, 2007
  10. Thanks Jill!
    Don Dinnerville, Mar 7, 2007
  11. Don Dinnerville

    rjw Guest

    I noticed this same problem and got it to stop by turning of the Indexing
    service in Vista. I think the indexing service is making the files appear
    changed (almost all of my music files kept showing up in Recently Changed
    until I turned indexing off, also). With indexing turned off, the
    incremental backups became a lot smaller than the first one and the number of
    files listed in Recently Changed dropped drastically.

    I hope someone is confirming and working on this so we can have reasonable
    incremental backups AND keep the indexing service turned on.
    rjw, Apr 13, 2007
  12. Don Dinnerville

    mos_72 Guest

    I'm having the same problem too with backup in Vista Home Premium - the
    backup takes hours each time, and the size of the backup is bigger and
    bigger. It does not appear to be incremental, despite what it SAYS it is

    I tried to turn off the indexing service but could not figure out how to do
    this (the help says it cannot be turned off).
    mos_72, May 11, 2007
  13. Don Dinnerville

    rjw Guest

    The Microsoft indexing people insist it isn't the indexing feature causing
    this and I was finally tired of dealing with it and unable to prove it
    conclusively. The Acronis backup people are blaming it on either antivirus
    or defrag. Whatever the cause: You're right - it's impossible to perform a
    reasonable incremental backup these days. I worked around it by turning off
    automated backups on my worst offender (the music library) and just do a full
    backup of that stuff once a month. Same with pictures. The rest of my data
    so far seems to behave itself and allows automated incremental backups
    without flowing out onto the balcony.
    rjw, May 11, 2007
  14. Don Dinnerville

    Ulicatamka Guest

    I am having the same problem here. I have an incremental backup scheduled
    each morning to an external hard drive. Usually the process takes under two
    minutes, with just the changed files going across, but occasionally it
    creates an entirely new copy of everything. After just a month my 160GB
    external drive was completely full up, and I didn't really know which version
    of the backup was the current one. I deleted everything, reformatted the
    drive, and now it has started all over again. I desperately need to keep an
    efficient backup (having recently had a disastrous data loss) but I no longer
    trust the Windows Backup Utility.

    Nice screen interface, but I'm starting to think that Vista is not as good
    as XP was.
    Ulicatamka, May 16, 2007
  15. Don Dinnerville

    rjw Guest

    It's not just Microsoft's backup utility. I get the same issue using Acronis
    True Image. Go figure.
    rjw, May 16, 2007
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