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Windows 7: Incremental file and folder restore procedure

10 Aug 2014   #1

Windows 7 32bit Home
Incremental file and folder restore procedure

Recently I encountered some errors that unfortunately resulted with me having to restore my folders and files from a incremental backup. I have a full backup with 24 incremental backups. Unfortunately, to restore these is taking a very very long time. The product I am using is Macrium Reflect. I have searched around the individual forums/help/knowledge based assistance but I have not located the information to confirm the necessary procedure, not even from Macrium.

So, the procedure I understand is reinstall the full backup, this took some time. I then restore the first incremental backup file, then the second, then the third etc until I restore the last 24th increment file. Is this the correct method since this is going to take one hell of a long time to execute.

I do realize now that to carry out backups, I should limit the number of incremental/differential backups and do a more regular full backup.

Any assistance would be appreciated, in the meantime I am restoring one incremental file at a time.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Aug 2014   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Yes, that would be the correct approach to restoring when FULL+INCREMENTAL is your backup regimen.

But realize that since an INCREMENTAL contains everything which has been created/updated each day (assuming for the sake of discussion that you're probably running FULL backup on the 1st of each month and INCREMENTAL backups every night of the month), if you actually delete something during the month which was there earlier in the month (or, say, at least there back on the 1st of the month and thus on that FULL backup, before being deleted sometime during the month), that you will end up with that file now once again present... even though you had previously deleted it during the month. That's just the natural result of doing a restore of the FULL backup followed by sequential restores of each subsequent INCREMENTAL backup.

Now, while I use Macrium Reflect Standard (i.e. not the free version, but the paid personal version) for my "system image" backups (which I take once a week on one machine and twice a week on my HTPC), I do not use it for folder/file "data" backups. Instead, I use a second separate product named NovaBACKUP Professional (also non-free, from NovaStor). This product has its own "system image" capability, but I don't use it in deference to Macrium Reflect which I prefer. However I prefer the folder/file backup capability of NovaBACKUP, which I use instead of the corresponding capability in Macrium Reflect.

So I use two separate products for the two separate backup types that I perform as my regimen. And for my "data" backup scheme, I too run monthly FULL backups with NovaBACKUP on the 1st of each month, along with nightly INCREMENTAL backups throughout the month. So I have exactly the same starting point as you do if I need to restore something, and am thus faced with your precise "dilemma" as to how to go about restoring things in case of serious disaster.

And that's why I use NovaBACKUP... because of its unique optional "intelligent program-controlled time-based restore" mechanism which can be used instead of the manual restore you described, of starting by manually restoring the latest FULL backup and then followed by manually restoring each INCREMENTAL backup with the resulting consequences I described earlier.

With "time-based restore", you describe with a time-slider GUI object the "as-of date" you are wanting to restore the latest version available anywhere in your backup system as-of that date. And you also check in an Explorer Tree GUI the folders/files you want to restore, with NovaBACKUP having presented that Explorer Tree to reflect EVERY SINGLE FOLDER/FILE you have anywhere in your collection of backup datasets, going back as many months (of FULL+INCREMENTAL sets) that you've retained. In my own case, I retain four total monthly sets of FULL+INCREMENTAL backups, just to provide that much recovery in case I don't realize I lost or corrupted something for a while after that event.

Anyway, once you indicate the "restore for me most recent version of the specified folders/files as-of the time slider date I set", when you push the RESTORE button NovaBACKUP examines all of the XML descriptions for every relevant backup dataset, in order to restore just that single most-recent version of a folder/file from WHICHEVER specific backup dataset(s) in your total collection is required to get that latest version as-of the specified date (either from some FULL dataset, or from some INCREMENTAL dataset, which could be way in the past if necessary, depending on which backup dataset in your collection yields that desired "most current version as-of the specified time slider date").

The real advantage of this "time-based restore" is that you don't need to know in advance or figure out for yourself which particular backup dataset (FULL or INCREMENTAL, from whatever monthly set) contains that precise version which is "most current as-of the time slider date I set". The program does it for you automatically, by examining all the XML descriptions of all of your backup datasets. The mechanism also allows you to recover an older version of a folder/file, when your current newer version might be incorrect or corrupt or whatever. By adjusting the time-slider back in time, the "most current version as-of that date" will be whatever older version satisfies that criteria, thus automatically accomplishing your particular restore goal objective in this case.

Note that the automatic result of "restore for me the latest version as-of the date I specify" when that time-slider date date is the current date, means that sub-folders/files you may have deleted well into the past will be resurrected and restored if you check the "parent folder" in the Explorer Tree describing what you want to restore. This can either be exactly what you want to accomplish (i.e. recovering something you accidentally and unwittingly deleted quite some time back and only recently discovered this), or not (in which case you can just UN-CHECK that sub-folder/file in the Explorer Tree before you push RESTORE, so that you don't restore it but leave it deleted on your system).

Again... I just prefer NovaBACKUP for "data" backups, and I prefer Macrium Reflect for "system image" backups.

So I own and use them both.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Incremental file and folder restore procedure

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