Post by Jeff Barnett
I am currently using EaseUS Todo Backup Workstation to perform weekly
backups of my Windows 7 Pro SP1 64-bit workstations. I recently started
using symlinks to support some work I do with PhotoShop. I tested
backups by restoring a few symlinks (and hardlinks) and noted failures.
I contacted the makers of EaseUS and they confirmed the issue in the
version I'm using as well as their later versions. Therefore I am
looking for a better backup solution. Note, freeware is great but I am
willing to pay for a solution that does what I want.
I run backups once a week. Two GPT partitioned disks, one a boot SSD
(with a boot partition and a C disk partition) and the other a 4TB
single partition HDD are completely backed up each time. I have no
particular need for incremental backups. The backups are placed on a 4TB
internal HDD. All three disks are high speed SATA and directly plugged
to the motherboard. Once every two weeks I copy the latest backups from
each machine to a USB 3 external disk. Every month or so I exchange the
external disk with one kept in a safety deposit box.
1. Backups can be scheduled for off hours, e. g., I currently run them
unattended at 4:00AM Wednesday nights. If necessary, I will cause the
computers to exit S3 mode at that time.
2. I want a backup format that allows me to restore individual files,
including symlinks, as well an entire disk.
3. It is okay if the software causes a reboot before initiating the
backup. If this is done, I'd hope that software would reboot into
Windows when finished forming the backup.
4. That software must be able to restore files and/or disks from a USB 3
disk even if the backup must be initiated outside Windows, e. g.,
booting from some sort of rescue disk.
Over the last few years I have read about several free solutions as well
as some toys for sell. The show stopper for most was bullet 1 above.
Most did not use the Windows' scheduler so couldn't drag themselves out
of sleep. As best I could tell, it was a matter of hacker pride not to
use Windows' mechanisms so the result was kludge. I never dreamed, until
recently, that symlinks might be a problem so the degree of difficulty
is raised. I threw bullet 3 in since it is one way around a host of
difficulties including the use of shadow copy, etc., and might appear in
some software package. And lastly bullet 4 is just a minimal requirement.
Any recommendations would be most appreciated particularly if you know
I'm willing to pay for a decent solution.
This sounds like something you'll need to test.
I would try out Macrium if I were you.
When you select "non-intelligent copy" in Macrium, it doesn't
always do what you'd expect it to do. Some operations happen
too quickly, to have been done "to forensic quality". So that's
an issue with the product.
But I've never caught it botching files or permissions,
in the simplest cases. And it does restore Junction Points,
because the home directories are correct.
Reparse Points are a general purpose escape mechanism. Data
is stored in two places, and a "filter" achieves the desired
custom file system feature. That's where your Symlink comes
from. A third party could design their own feature if they
wanted, and then backup software would be hard-pressed to
reproduce the appropriate behavior on "single file restore".
"Microsoft includes several default tags including
NTFS symbolic links,
junction points (for directories)
volume mount points
The most I would expect any (good) backup utility to do,
is reproduce those three properly.
In the case of "behavior" during restoration, usually a user
has to state what they want, such as ignoring data stored
on another disk ("don't descent the feature") or wanting
to descent into some other file system for the necessary
information. If you have information in a file system,
which requires recording data from a second disk, that is
outside the purview of a number of backup tools. They simply
don't do that. They use shadow copies to freeze the volume
they're working on, but they don't traverse the entire
file system, looking for "leaks" that jump to a second
disk drive. And they don't go around asserting shadow
copies on all hard drive volumes at the same time, either.
To give an analogous example...
-xdev #Don't descend directories on other filesystems.
That's an example of a philosophical "tick box". It's
a choice a user has to make, regarding how to treat
volumes. If you allow the search to traverse every disk
via hardlinks or symlinks or shortcuts, you could end
up searching all the disk drives (when your real intent
was to stick to a single mounted partition). A person could
construct a strategy, where they search each disk or
volume individually, in which case they would use "-xdev"
to keep the search on one disk.
A backup tool has a similar problem. For those whizzy features
in a file system, which might support "leaping off the disk",
the tool must have a policy as to what to do about it. To support
both options, might require a much more complicated approach
on Shadow Copies.
And Shadow Copies are your friend - since they allow backups
of C: while the OS is running. Macrium has a secondary method
it can use, if Shadows are not available, but I can't say I've
ever seen it used here (I didn't see any mention of it in the