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Windows 7: Restoring a backup results in duplicated files and directories!

08 Jul 2013   #1

Windows 7 professional 64 bit
Restoring a backup results in duplicated files and directories!

I found something a little unexpected when using Windows 7 backup. I had thought that after doing a full backup followed by several incremental backups over time I could get a crash and a restore would result in the same file structure that was present at the time of the latest incremental backup. Indeed I thought that the point of the backup utility was to recreate your data in the same form as the last backup. It seems this isnít so. What I found was the following. I have files and directories say all under a parent directory and I do a full backup of the parent directory. Then I reorganize things by moving some of the files and directories under the parent into another directory under the parent. Then I do an incremental backup. When I restore to this latest backup, any file or directory that had been moved now appears in two places!! It appears in its original location under the parent before it was moved and it also appears in its final correct location under the directory into which it was moved. Ergo, the restored parent directory now contains duplicate files and directories which were not present at the time of the latest incremental backup. I was surprised to learn this since I thought the point of the backup was to be able to restore to the same file structure present at the time of the last incremental backup. It seems if you want to do that, then you need to do only full backups which take a long time of course.
  • Is this the correct operation for Windows 7 backup?
  • Is there a way to work around this or setting to solve the problem?
  • If not, do all backup programs also behave like this?
Any information on this will be appreciated.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2013   #2
Microsoft MVP


For this and many other reasons I don't rely upon Windows backup, except for a baseline image stored after install and setup.

For my User folder files, I have found the easiest way to backup and sync them at the same time to my various PC's is using this method I'm a year into getting ready to write up as a tutorial: Sync, Backup and Store your Files to the Cloud with Skydrive - Windows 7 Forums

If you'd want to avoid the cloud even though it's free for 7gb (25gb if you got the original offer) and dirt cheap for more storage, you could do the same to another drive using SyncToys which works terrific with the Win7 scheduler: Schedule SyncToy to Run Automatically With Task Scheduler in Windows 7 - How-To Geek .

This excellent tutorial by our expert Colin explains more fully SyncToy - Backup User Data - Windows 7 Help Forums.

Another method to consider is having a separate data partition to move your User folders onto. User Folders - Change Default Location. Then if you need to restore C from image you'd have your data waiting current and safe in its own partition. In that case you'd want to possibly use Skydrive or SyncToys to back it up to the cloud or another HD.

Also be aware that if you use Win7 backup imaging it will want to include the data partition in the image if it includes the User folders (System files) so either use another app like free Macrium - Image your system, or instead of moving User folders, simply copy them there and rightclick to link each to the related Library - Include a Folder - Windows 7 Forums.

Others may have their favorite methods. These are the ones which I've seen that work best - none of which ever include Win7 File backup. Feel free to ask back any questions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Jul 2013   #3

Windows 7 professional 64 bit

Thanks very much for your very thorough response! This is just the information I was looking for!
My System SpecsSystem Spec


 Restoring a backup results in duplicated files and directories!

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