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mikemurphy324

Files in Vista System Volume Info directory seem like large backup burden

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I've noticed that the backup of a machine running Windows Vista (most of mine use XP Pro) includes multiple files in the System Volume Information directory that are very large (largest today, 13 gigabytes!). Info I find via Google suggests these are files Vista prepares to enable restore points and the "previous version" functions. Seems like MANY gigabytes of backup will be consumed by these files.

 

Is there a way to properly back up Vista systems without having to include these files? Is there a way to filter the Retrospect backup selection to not include them, without hindering the ability to properly restore the backed up system if it needs it?

 

I suppose one way would be to disable the Windows restore function and previous version functions on the user's system -- but I'd like to find a solution that doesn't require me to do that.

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actually it's best to exclude the following folder (and all contents) entirely:

 

C:\System Volume Information\

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This appears to be a defect (or at minimum an undocumented change :)) in new version 7.6

 

On Vista, as soon as the 7.6 update was installed, every volume now backs up a 3GB+ file in the System Volume Information folder, and does so every time a backup runs. What's interesting is that:

* The file has a different name every time

* If I give myself permission to see inside the SVI folders, I find that the file doesn't exist before or after the backup.

 

Thus, apparently this is a temp file created by Retrospect somehow!

 

Mayoff's solution will not work because the filenames change on every backup.**

 

And MRIS's solution is rather extreme, involving loss of all system recovery data.

 

We prefer to be able to restore our systems :)

 

Can someone look into this? Our Vista machine now stores an extra 12GB of data every day from this change... rather painful!

 

If it is true that this file is somehow created through use of Retrospect, I'd assume this may also be slowing down the backup process. Creating a 3GB temp file takes a little time.

 

Thanks much!

Pete

 

 

**The filenames are similar but not identical. Typically nn{xxxxxxx-xxxxx-xxxx} (not the right number of characters) where nn is different every time or may be missing, and xxxxx-xxxx... is quite similar every time. Looks like the first cluster of characters always changes while the latter cluster(s) are (almost?) constant.

 

 

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Thanks for adding new information to this! I've noticed the "similar-but-changing" name pattern as well.

 

It hadn't occurred to me that Retrospect might be actually creating these files rather than simply backing up something Windows Vista was doing.

 

I don't have extensive Retrospect expertise, but I have read that Retrospect is now using Windows Shadow Copy mechanisms in its backup process. And, my understanding is that the hidden System Volume Information directory is where such Shadow Copy files reside.

 

Is it possible that Retrospect is backing up its own large work file? Either from the current or a previous session?

 

Here are a couple of speculative questions

 

-- is there some flaw or mis-configuration that is preventing these files from being deleted when they're supposed to be?

 

-- Would disabling Retrospect from using Shadow Copy prevent this bad behavior pattern (consuming backup space with up multi-gig hidden files of questionable origin with each backup pass)?

 

-- Are lots of people having this problem??

 

 

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Hi MRIS,

 

About the idea of preventing Retrospect from backing up the System Volume Information folder altogether, I'm hesitant to take this step because I have the impression that Windows stores important information for system operation in that directory.

 

Can you tell me what Windows system functions would be disabled or threatened on a machine that I restored from a Retrospect backup that didn't include System Volume Information?

 

---- MM

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You might want to review a previous thread on this subject (Excessive backup). I followed Robin and MRIS's advice and cut my Vista backups from hours to minutes. I've had to restore once, and there was no problem. Since you can restore to any point in time, why would you need that restoration plus prior system restore points? The thread can be found HERE.

Good luck. - Dave

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Two different purposes: system restore points let you recover the registry prior to installing new software, etc. Backups take your data back to that date.

 

In general, I much appreciate the utility of sys restore points when needed. So not being able to recover them after a disaster just feels... irresponsible.

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Backups take your data back to that date.

 

It depends on how you configure your backups. My backups also take my system back to that date, making system restore points redundant. In my case it seems like overkill to restore my computer and system to May 1st, and still want system restore points for April, but different strokes for different folks, but NOT irresponsible. Good luck. - Dave

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To answer Mike and Pete's questions:

 

1. The "C:\System Volume Information\" folder stores the system restore snapshots that vista automatically makes.

 

2. If you don't backup this folder, than you're not backing up those snapshots. These snapshots are generally not required when you are recovering the PC from a total hard drive failure, since during these circumstances you are just happy to have the thing working again. It is generally unlikely that you will think to yourself that a system restore to a point even further back would solve any software problems you are having. If you do want to go further back, choose an earlier Retrospect Snapshot to restore back to.

 

3. Pete, the reason you didn't see anything in that folder is that these are files that have the hidden attribute set, so are not visible by default when viewing the folder's contents.

 

4. Retrospect doesn't create the files, Vista does during normal operation. It's possible that a volume snapshot is created as part of the backup process, however retrospect isn't at fault for these remaining there. The OS will eventually remove them as more are created, which is how system restore works.

 

5. By excluding this folder from backup, you are able to take and keep more retrospect snapshots, since each snapshot will be smaller than it would be if you included this folder in every backup. Therefore, my advice is to use both systems, (Vista System Restore as well as Retrospect Backups) but to exclude that folder from being backed up.

 

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Thanks for your responses. I think I'll try the approach of excluding the folder from the Retrospect backup. I stage backups to hard disk first, then to tape, and those daily shadow copy gigabytes will quickly quickly eat up the disk!

 

Can anybody watching this think of hidden "gotchas" about not backing up the System Volume Information directory? Will the only thing I'm missing be the restore points and "previous version" capabilities? (Which Retrospect handles separately.)

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