Microsoft details backup time machine for Windows 8
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 11 Jul 2012 at 08:31
Microsoft has detailed the File History application that will automatically back up user files and provide timeline snapshots of files that have changed over time.
Citing the fact that only 5% of users employ Windows Backup and fewer than half use back-up software, Microsoft said it wanted to remove the responsibility of backing up from customers.
“File History is a backup application that continuously protects your personal files stored in Libraries, Desktop, Favorites, and Contacts folders,” said Bohdan Raciborski, a program manager on the Storage team, in a blog post.
“It periodically (by default every hour) scans the file system for changes and copies changed files to another location. Every time any of your personal files has changed, its copy will be stored on a dedicated, external storage device selected by you. Over time, File History builds a complete history of changes made to any personal file.”
Instead of scanning the volume, which involves opening and reading directories, File History opens the NTFS change journal and quickly scans it for any changes
The company said the improvements would mean work lost or updated in error could be rolled back to earlier versions.
“When a specific point in time version of a file or even an entire folder is needed, you can quickly find it and restore it. The restore application was optimised for browsing, searching, previewing and restoring files,” Raciborski.
According to Microsoft, the system has also been optimised for laptops, so that it can cope as devices “transition through power states or are being connected and disconnected from networks and devices”.
“File History was designed to be easily interrupted and to quickly resume,” Raciborski said. “This way, File History can resume its operation, without the need to start over when a system goes into sleep mode, a user logs off, the system gets too busy and needs more CPU cycles to complete foreground operations, or the network connection is lost or saturated.”
When the dedicated storage device is disconnected, when switching between office and home, for example, File History starts caching versions of changed files on a system drive, and then flushes it back to the external storage once it's reconnected. The company recommends File History is configured to save to external drives or to network storage to protect against PC failure.
Microsoft said the feature would be pushed as a high-visibility tool, with a new ribbon button added to Windows Explorer specifically for file history, although the service is not turned on by default.
According to Microsoft, the older file management systems could be a drain on resources because they had to trawl through files to find which ones had been updated. As it's now closely integrated with the NTFS file system, File History should require less processor power and work on lower specced machine and tablets.
“In the past, most backup applications used brute force method of checking for changes in directories or files by scanning the entire volume,” Raciborski said. “This approach could significantly affect the system performance and requires an extended period of time to complete. File History, on the other hand, takes advantage of the NTFS change journal.
“The NTFS change journal records any changes made to any files stored on an NTFS volume. Instead of scanning the volume, which involves opening and reading directories, File History opens the NTFS change journal and quickly scans it for any changes.”
File History is part of the Windows 8 Release Preview and is most easily found by searching for "file history" in the Settings menu.
"to remove the responsibility of backing up"
Then "external storage device selected by you" & "service is not turned on by default"
Sounds like the responsibility is well and truly left with the user...!
By bibble on 11 Jul 2012
Just what was needed for many of us amateur techies.
By nosamenter on 11 Jul 2012
Here comes the bloat....
Win 7 backup didn't work. It's clunky, inefficient, gobbles disk space and ultimately proved unreliable. Half the files scheduled to backup had only their parent folder tree present when restored. I lost a lost of data I'll never get back as a result.
Repeated incremental, no full option. Dire.
A much simpler "mirror the master folder to here" process would suffice. And maybe work.
By cheysuli on 11 Jul 2012
Is that a backup of your messages? ;-)
By treadmill on 11 Jul 2012
Yes that's the problem.
Time Machine on the Mac is meant to be great, but I haven't got around to setting it up simply because I'm yet to get hold of an external drive.
I back up individual files to SkyDrive instead, and pray.
By 0thello on 11 Jul 2012
Already in Windows
Cheysuli, their post has misleaded you, this is less a replacement for Windows Backup than a replacement for a technology that was in previous versions of Windows called "Previous Versions".
By TheBigM72 on 11 Jul 2012
I hope it works better than TimeMachine on OS X! I nearly lost all of my photos (15 years worth of digital photos) through TimeMachine.
My Mac corrupted itself, so I reinstalled and as I started to restore over TimeMachine, it decided that it needed to rebuild the archive, because it was on a "new" machine and promptly wiped out all the files ahead of where it was currently restoring from! :-O
Luckily I am paranoid and had them all backed up in the cloud on Carbonite and also on a NAS drive, so I could recover them - I lost all of the Apeture specific modifications and things like "Faces", but at least I still had the raw images!
I was glad I had used the 3-2-1 rule - no file is backed up unless there are at least 3 copies, on 2 different media and 1 is offsite.
(Okay, technically, you could argue that the cloud backup is also on a hard disk or array of disks somewhere.)
By big_D on 11 Jul 2012
@big_D: my experience with TimeMchine has been more positive. Over the past few years I have had a hard drive failure on two different iMacs (cue the snarky comments about 'I thought Apple hardware was supposed to be perfect'!) and it worked exactly as advertised to restore the entire contents of the dead drive onto a new one. (Though I DO also backup to Carbonite and Dropbox, just in case ...)
By hickeypa1 on 11 Jul 2012
Sync systems such as Skydrive and Dropbox suffer from the limitation of all sync, which is that they do not distinguish intentional and accidental deletions.
In this way they differ from backup systems. And if something disappears, it may be a long time before you notice.
However Dropbox offers a Packrat option that keeps *every* (synched) version of every file. I chose to pay for that option, and it has saved me a few times.
Of course relying on the Packrat option for salvation means total reliance on Dropbox. So I may start using File History too. Especially for my Skydrive, which offers no Packrat-like option.
It is irksome having to maintain and use an external USB drive, which File History needs. Such tedium is why backups don't get done.
I invented an Apathy Proof system in the 1980s when I was responsible for data on a bunch of minicomputers:
1. Abandoned data: periodically moved to tape. (Sometimes users returned.)
2. In-use data: weekly disk pack copy-and-swap. Swapped-out disks were backed to tape before re-use.
3. No users were involved.
I could never have imagined we would have cloud systems to do all this for us.
By fogtax on 9 Aug 2012
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