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Backing Up User Documents on Windows 7

My wife's new HP Pavilion Entertainment Notebook PC DV7-3160us comes with Windows 7 Home Premium. Starting with Windows Vista, Microsoft bundles the "robocopy" utility that works similarly to "rsync" on UNIX. I want to give that a try to back up her user directory (%SystemDrive%\Users\[username]) to my network server. With the mirror flag (/MIR), robocopy should be able to do that without any problem. But that proved to fail on the first file (NTUSER.DAT) it encountered and proceed to wait for it . . . FOREVER.

In order to prevent it from continuing to copy a file that it has no chance to ever copy, you have to set the retry to a small number, rather than the default a million times. And with the default of 30 seconds wait time, that would be an eternity. I found the following set of flags to work well:

  robocopy source destination /mir /r:1 /w:1

These flags tells robocopy to mirror the source on the destination, but only retry each failed copy once, with a time out of one second. Therefore, it won't get hung up on any one file that it fails to copy.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 01 Mar 2010 06:54:05 +0000

The users directory in Windows 7 is filled with so many short-cuts, junction points, and/or symbolic links, it's virtually impossible to sort everything out. When I backed up my wife's computer using the command, her 80 GB worth of data turned into 300 GB.

So I found that you can use the "/xj" flag to eliminate junction points from robocopy. That reduced the amount of back up data to 150 GB, which is much more manageable now.

Chieh Cheng
Mon, 08 Mar 2010 22:56:44 +0000

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