Vista Incremental backup Query : Home Premium Edition

Discussion in 'Windows Vista Performance' started by NickT, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. NickT

    NickT Guest

    Am using Vista Backup utility to backup my files to USB based external disk.
    Have one backup set with initial full backup done 2 weeks ago. Have now done
    2 subsequent incremental backups that have been saved in same backup set. The
    size of the incremental backups are extremely large yet the number of files I
    have changed and added between backups has been few. I see files being backed
    up again that have not changed in any way since initial full backup. What can
    be going on? What field in file header does the backup program look at in
    order to decide if file needs to be backed up. If it's 'date archived' then I
    can see that this field is not populated.
    NickT, Feb 19, 2007
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  2. NickT

    AJR Guest

    Are you positive you are using "Incremental" vice "Differential"? Also if
    HD is defragged between backups - file will be large.
    AJR, Feb 20, 2007
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  3. NickT

    Stuart [MVP] Guest

    Unfortunately, according to MS, this is normal behavior. This type of backup,
    unlike the Complete PC Backup doesn't use VSS technology and doesn't seem to
    use the Archive bit as evidence of file modification. Perhaps MS will step in
    here and provide a more detailed explanation?

    Stuart [MVP], Feb 20, 2007
  4. NickT

    NickT Guest

    I agree. I would really like MS to tell us this. Can't quite fathom out how
    they can say this is normal behaivior. An Incremental is an Incremental and
    only files that have been added/changed should go into the backup set. In
    response to AJR comment I don't see an option for differential backup in
    Vista Backup utility?

    I did my last backup yesterday. Just to give you an idea of size of backup
    files I'm talknig about. Original full backup was 90GB in size . This last
    incremental since last week was 63GB!!

    I'm now suspecting that Windows Media Library, MCE and/or Photo Gallery make
    updates to the file headers when indexing and sorting photos and videos.
    Let's see what MS say.
    NickT, Feb 20, 2007
  5. A couple answers for the thread:

    Backup *does* use VSS, but not in the way Complete PC Backup does. That is,
    with File Backup, the changes aren't stored as shadow copies.

    Like some have speculated, those files are being backed up because some
    program or process is changing them. It can be antivirus putting something
    in alternate streams, Media Player updating metadata (ID3 tags) or something
    like this. Even right-clicking in Explorer and going to properties may lead
    to adding alternate stream. Changing permissions on the parent directory and
    compressing the folder can also lead to the same effect. Moving the files
    into a different directory will also force Backup to pick them again.

    Backup does not look in any headers, nor does Backup understand file
    formats. To determine if a file is changed, Backup looks at creation date,
    modification date, and last written to date (this one is not visible via the
    cmd, only programmatically).

    From what I'm told, the archive bit is not used by serious backup apps and
    didn't work well in its day.

    If you are willing to share your backup catalogs with us, we can take a look
    and tell you what's happening.

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Want to learn more about Windows file and storage technologies? Visit our
    team blog at
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Feb 20, 2007
  6. NickT

    NickT Guest

    Jill, Thanks for your concern and offer to look into my case as I do think it
    strange. If you can tell me what catalogs, files you need to look at and how
    i should get them to you I'll do as you ask. You suspiscions as to what might
    be the reason may well prove to be right but if they are then I really think
    some thought needs to be given to how one should make backups of photos,
    music and video files in future release as it is these that for me and
    probably others that occupy the most disk space and might need to be treated
    differently. Maybe more options as to when backups of these should occur
    (e.g. Ignore changed ID3 tags or antivirus mods.....).

    NickT, Feb 20, 2007
  7. I'm checking to see which files to send us. I will also talk to the
    development team about this issue because it is a pain to keep backing up
    your music files each time, even though you don't change them.

    Personally, I use Synctoy to back up (to removable disk) videos and music
    files that I store on my desktop computer. This has been working well for
    me. You can download it from

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Want to learn more about Windows file and storage technologies? Visit our
    team blog at
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Feb 20, 2007
  8. NickT

    NickT Guest

    Ok Jill I'll hang loose until you know what I need to send. Will hold of on
    using addtional tools like synctoy until I know exactly what happened. My
    videos and pictures take up most space so it'll be them primarily and then
    the music files in second place that better solutions for backing up might
    need to be included in future releases.
    NickT, Feb 21, 2007
  9. I'm waiting for instructions on how to get your catalog files. They are
    stored under System Volume Information, which is pretty locked down.
    Supposedly there is a way to grab those files without changing permissions,
    but the instructions I was given aren't working. I'll post them here when I
    have them.

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Want to learn more about Windows file and storage technologies? Visit our
    team blog at
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Feb 21, 2007
  10. OK, here are the steps to getting the catalog files.

    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


    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Want to learn more about Windows file and storage technologies? Visit our
    team blog at
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Feb 21, 2007
  11. NickT

    NickT Guest


    Sorry for the long silence but for some reason I didn't get an E-mail
    saying that you had responded. I guess if you do two responses one after the
    other I don't get notice of second one. Anyway I will eventually send you
    files requested although I think I know what it is now. I'm having problems
    with Windows Media Player and Windows Photo Gallery. The Media Player library
    keeps corrupting and I have to rebuild it. I suspect now that as the library
    is rebuilt my multi-media file headers are updated somehow and that causes
    the large incrementals to occur. What do you think?

    On another topic. What is the difference between Backup and Restore and
    Windows Easy Transfer? I have to re-install Vista and I need to backup all my
    stuff beforehand and then restore once re-install is completed. What do you
    recommend and why?

    NickT, Mar 6, 2007
  12. We had another customer with a similar report of large incremental backups,
    so he's sending us the catalog for review. We suspect his media files are
    changing due to a sync process. Anyway, it will be interesting to figure
    this out.

    I'm not that familiar with Easy Transfer's inner workings, but I do know it
    worked fantastically for me when I migrated my old XP laptop's data to a new
    Vista laptop. Double-check that it will work Vista-to-Vista (I'm not sure).
    Assuming it works, I would probably use a combination of both--make a backup
    for safekeeping and then use the transfer wizard.

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.

    Want to learn more about Windows file and storage technologies? Visit our
    team blog at
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], Mar 7, 2007
  13. Nicholas Thompson - Me, Mar 12, 2007
  14. NickT

    rjw Guest

    Nick or Jill: Has anyone gotten to the bottom of the incremental file size
    mystery yet? I'm of the opinion the file headers (or tags or whatever
    they're called) are being modified by Vista's indexing utilities. I turned
    off indexing on my mp3 folders and the incremental backups immediately became
    a manageable and understandable size again. Also, I noticed before turning
    off indexing that hundreds of mp3's were showing up when I clicked Recently
    Changed. This also went away with indexing off.
    rjw, Apr 14, 2007
  15. NickT

    galeso Guest

    On Vista, I ran All Programs-Accessories-System Tools-Backup Status and
    Configuration. I selected Change Backup Settings-H drive
    (DVD)-Next-Next-Create a New, Full Backup Now in addition to saving settings.
    I took 2 DVDs.

    My computer was reinitialized back to factory defaults and now I can not
    restore from the DVDs. I can see .zip and GlobalCatalog.wbcat files.

    When I try Advance Restore:
    1) Files from the lastest backup made on this computer shows no catalogs.
    2) Files from than older backup made on this computer shows no a newer
    catalog that I made after the reset.
    3) Files from a backup made on a different computer shows me only the D:
    drive and neither of the two DVD writers.

    How do I restore?

    galeso, May 8, 2007
  16. Did you try inserting the *last* DVD from the backup set?
    Jill Zoeller [MSFT], May 9, 2007
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