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File locking and backups

A couple of weeks back I switched to using SyncBack SE, from an old version of Retrospect (6.0), for doing my home backups. I’d got increasingly annoyed that Retrospect would just stop backing up at all, if it had a problem. The main cause was because my Outlook PST was always open / locked, thanks to Copernic Desktop Search (I’ve only just switched to Yahoo Desktop Search in the last week).

I emailed Copernic to see what could be done and they replied that it needed to access the file in order to index it, which makes total sense, but the crux of the problem is that it did this even when Outlook was closed. I had to write an app that would run before my backup (via Windows Task Scheduler), close CDS down and then reload it later. Unfortunately it appears that Yahoo Desktop Search, suffers from the same problem.

This stuck me as quite a nasty problem. Use of search tools from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Copernic et al is becoming more and more widespread and if the backup tools are not capable of working with constantly locked files due to search indexing, then it renders them redundant.

However, there is an answer, which for me was SyncBack. Now there is a free version, but the SE version ($25), has the ability to copy locked files using Volume Shadow Copy Service (part of Windows XP and 2003). Regardless of whatever has my PST (and other files for that matter) open, SyncBack is usually able to back them up. Further to that, if there is a problem, it doesn’t stop running the other backups. It emails me to tell me what the problem is and carries on, which is exactly what I want.

It’s odd, but this strikes me as common sense, I had to write a basic backup program for work a while back that had lots of little jobs to do and the last thing I wanted was for it to completely stop if it hit a problem. That poor program has been replaced with the behemoth that is Veritas Backup Exec.

If you want to find out what has open or is locking a file see here. Also at some point I’ll do a proper write up on SyncBack since it’s an ace little program.

Peter Droogers said,

August 11, 2006 @ 11:28 am

I’m surprized that this File Locking of all these Desktop Search does not get more attention. If they are on, I can’t program anymore since all the *.bak files are locked. Moreover, my entire ActiveSync files are screwed up and synchronizing ends always in “New User Overwrite All”.
Hope more attention by the developers by this urgent problem!!!

Paul said,

August 22, 2006 @ 2:32 pm

Peter, I agree, I’m amazed it’s not more of an issue. Perhaps people who use these fast search tools don’t bother with backups? (!!)

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