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Backup Drive filled up with what?


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#1
brittonjrs

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I am using a 500 GB Maxtor "One Touch4 Plus" backup drive to back up my Dell XPS 420 desktop computer, on which I am running the Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. (I've already have heard -- MANY TIMES -- that I shouldn't have picked Vista, so please don't start any replies with that suggestion...)

Because only one of these programs backs up my photos and only the other backs up my email, I'm using BOTH the Maxtor backup software that came with the drive and the Windows "Backup and Restore" software that came with Vista to do my backing up.

The "Computer" utility that I use to see what's on my various drives claims that 398 GB of the Maxtor drive (out of the 465 GB "available") are "used", leaving only 67 GB "free".

However, when I look at the contents of all the folders on the drive (except for the "System Volume Information" folder that I can't see into) they only seem to have about 100 GB of data in ALL of them.

I thought perhaps the problem was that each incremental backup was setting aside a block of disk space that it wasn't necessarily using the whole amount of, so that defragging the disk might free up that space. But it turns out that the disk was set to be defragged every night since I started using it, so if I'm right about the problem, defragging the disk is not a solution for it.

A friend who looked into this for me (and subsequently pointed me in the direction of this forum) suggested that the problem was that a great deal of rubbish was being stored in the "System Volume Information" folder. But if that is the case, it isn't clear how to tell -- or what to do about it.

I'm not having this problem with my hard disk, so I also suspect the backup programs, but that also leaves me with a possible explanation that doesn't have a solution.

Can anyone tell me where the excess 300 GB of space has gone on my backup drive -- and how I can get it back before the drive "fills up"?

Thanks in advance,

Carl Britton
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#2
ZaRMan

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I'm suspecting the "System Volume Information" folder. Firstly, right click on that folder and click Properties
read that info and see if it is taking a lot of space.
Secondly, there may be hidden folders. To check (I'm not quite sure about Vista, but this is in windows 7)Click on Organize Then Folder and Search Options Then click on the View tab. Go to the hidden files and folders section and select "Show hidden files and folders"
Now if there are any, they will show up as sort of shaded and translucent folders, do the same to them as you did with the "System Volume Information" and check all of these out.
Hope this helps, be sure to reply if you have any questions or if it doesn't work :)

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#3
brittonjrs

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Thanks so much for having a go at this!

My friend managed to alter the attributes of the System Folder so that we could look into it and see its Properties. It claims to be empty, but he didn't believe that. I already had Hidden Files toggled on to be displayed, and there don't appear to be any of those on this drive.

If there is something hidden in the System Folder, how else could I see what it is?

-- Carl
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#4
ZaRMan

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[bleep], this is a weird one, it's hard to tell what's going on without actually being able to see it myself, but it also may be able to do with the software being used, occasionally some programs will make the file excessively large for no apparent reason, but not being experienced with those back-up programs, i wouldn't be able to help. I will keep digging around, i think i may have heard a program like to help in situations like these, so i will get back to you. Keep trying to figure out what's wrong, i'll be :)
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#5
ZaRMan

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Go back into the Hidden folders window and uncheck the "hide protected operating system files" see if anything comes up now
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#6
ZaRMan

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you should head to live help, i can help you faster there
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#7
ZaRMan

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Okay, what i think is in the System Folder is your system restore points. Windows automatically saves these files in that folder and they can take up a lot of space. The default setting is that windows is allowed to use 15% of the partitioned space, so in your case it is permitted to use 75GB of space. You can change these settings though. Open System Restore by clicking the Start button , clicking All Programs,
clicking Accessories, clicking System Tools, and then clicking System Restore.
If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Restore Settings, select the pertinent partition and click Settings. (I would recommend about 5%)
If you are using all these backup programs, plus the windows one, it would take up a lot of space.
Hope that helped! :)

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#8
brittonjrs

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Thanks again!

The "hide protected operating system files" option was also already unchecked, so still no more hidden files to be revealed...

However, I may have figured this out anyway:

I was basing my conclusion about how much stuff was currently on the backup drive by checking the Properties of each "parent" folder, which tells me how many sub-folders and files that folder has in it, and how big it is -- including its sub-folders. I was then keeping a running total of the size of all the parent folders to get an estimate of the size of the DATA on the disc.

One of the parent folders I was including in my running total was the parent folder for the incremental backups made by the Windows "Backup and Restore" program. That program creates a new folder (with sub-folders) every night, in which it stores whatever has changed that day. (Unlike the Maxtor backup program, which -- much more efficiently -- seems to keep its backed-up stuff in a set of folders that mirrors the set of folders on my hard drive, and then separately stores only the latest 10 versions of anything that has been changed from day to day.) There are currently 667 of these sub-folders in the Windows "Backup" parent folder, since I have been backing up my hard drive for a bit over two years.

By default, I do not have permission to see the contents or properties of the sub-folders created by the Windows incremental backups. But since I am the Administrator, all I have to do is click "Continue" and I can GET the permission to see into the incremental backup sub-folders.

I just had -- and confirmed -- the sneaking suspicion that the total number of folders/files and the total size that Windows was reporting for the PARENT folder of the incremental backup sub-folders was only including the incremental sub-folders that I had ALREADY asked permission to see -- about two dozen out of the 667. What I just confirmed was that each time I took a look for the first time into a new incremental backup sub-folder, the total size and number of folders/files in the PARENT folder got slightly bigger.

So, presumably, if I took the time to look into all 667 sub-folders for the first time, the size of the parent folder would gradually balloon into something more like 300 GB, rather than the 20 GB it has always claimed to contain. ("Always" meaning for the last few months, since I first started worrying about this...)

[Moreover, if, as I seem to recall, the Windows "Backup and Restore" program is the one of the two that gives me the option of backing up my email (the Maxtor program then being the only one of the two that will back up my pictures), the incremental sub-folders would contain 667 copies of my Outlook email file, each a little bigger than its predecesor -- and each one about 100 MB, for the last several weeks!]

The problem this leaves me with is that my friend told me that I would need to keep ALL the incremental backup sub-folders, which Windows would need, along with the original disc image, to restore my system if it crashed. The only way I can see around that is to create a new disc image (initially on my hard drive, since there is no longer room on the backup drive -- if I wait to delete what's currently on the backup drive until AFTER I have successfully created a new disc image) and begin over again with the incremental backups.

Does all of this sound right to you?

(Again, I REALLY appreciate your taking the time to think about this and offer these suggestions for figuring it out!)

-- Carl
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#9
brittonjrs

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Just saw your last two posts. I'm new here, and didn't know about "Live Help". I'll check out what that is, so you don't need to take the time to explain it to me.

But for the moment, I'm going to go have breakies and wait until you've had a chance to digest what I just posted...

Thanks,

Carl
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#10
ZaRMan

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First of all, i'm new too, i just joined today, secondly, brekkie? where do you live, i'm from melbourne, Australia, it's 11:26 over here right now. Now to the important part.
Everything you said is completely right and spot on but what occurs to me is that you are using all these backup programs at once. First, i recommend making a recovery disk and a separate recovery partition. If you make a partition and limit the amount windows can use, you will save LOADS of space because when it makes a new system restore point, it will delete the oldest, creating an efficient cycle (like the other program you use) Also, the recovery disk will work too if your system crashes and if all else fails, you can use the windows vista disk that dell should have given with your machine and do a clean install, and you will still have your backup files on your external hard drive.

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#11
ZaRMan

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I have to go to bed now, my mum's bugging me :) but i will be here tommorow to check out what you have to say (but that Australian Eastern Standard Time) so it might not be the ideal time for you (i don't know where you live) but just post anything and everything you need and i will respond. Good Luck!
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#12
brittonjrs

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When you wrote to say you were turning in for the evening in Oz, it was 9:44 AM here in New England, and I had been checking the "Geeks to Go" forum before starting my day. It's now about 10:30 PM, and I've just finished a late dinner at the end of my day.

As for the colloquialism, my best friend in college (who is now a heart & lung surgeon in Florida) had lived for a time in the UK while he was growing up, and I picked up from him the habit of peppering my speech with "Briticisms", like "breakies" for "breakfast".

Dell put a recovery partition on the hard discs of both our laptop and desktop machines, each containing an image of the disc as installed when they shipped it to us. We had to use the one on the laptop to restore it when my daughter's Ipod crashed the laptop last year. But I never thought of using the recovery partition in the way you described, in combination with the backup drive. That sounds like a better system than the one I'm using.

The reason I'm using two backup programs, though, is that only one of them will back up my email and only the other one will back up my pictures.

It's Independence Day here in the US (and, ironically, my anniversary), so I'll be away with my wife and kids for the next two days. Consequently, I won't see anything else you post until Tuesday next, Eastern Daylight Time in the US.

Thanks again (in the meanwhile),

Carl
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#13
ZaRMan

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Well then hopefully this will be figured out by today! Using your two backup programs is fine, the 3rd Party software are usually a lot more efficient than windows (i personally don't use the windows backup system, i use my own) If your machine came with the recovery file, you should be fine. If you really want the windows system, then i recommend limiting the amount of hard drive space it can use, but there are alternatives (which i use) as i said before, you can make a system recovery disk or do a clean install of Vista, but something else occurred to me, if you really need to grab some files, and the software has crashed (Vista, if the motherboard or something else goes, you'll just have to pull out the hard drive) i would also recommend getting something like Ubuntu, it's an operating system that you can boot from a disc (it's free too, just search around on the internet) so you can copy anything you need from your hard drive to your backup drive.

Edited by Rifat Zaman, 03 July 2010 - 08:50 PM.

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#14
123Runner

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This is getting a little off the main topic, but I will throw in what I do for backup.
I use DriveImage XML (free) and Easeus ToDo Backup (free) and make image backups of my drives to 2 other hard drives. I built a CD disk from BartsPE that has both of those programs on so I can boot from CD if I have a crash and have to re-do a drive.

I also use Norton Ghost 9.0 (purchased by my son) as backup.
I use SyncBack Free to backup up my drives by folders, sub-folders, and files. I can search in side them if needed.

You have another topic located Here. I would suggest that you PM a moderator to have the 2 topics merged.
There is some good advice in the other topic that you should follow.

123runner
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