File selection and restoration in File & Folder backup


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JK
JK
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With a fair number of Acronis True Image users currently considering competing products (due to recent corporate decisions by Acronis), there have been some interesting discussions of Macrium Reflect on the Acronis forums.  It seems that a few features present in Acronis and many other file/folder backup solutions are not (yet) available in Reflect, causing some hesitance to convert:

(1) When selecting source files to back up, why not offer the option to select individual source files in the folder tree GUI, in addition to the inclusion/exclusion filters?

(2) When restoring files, could there be some more options regarding the restored folder structure?  For example, a useful option is a flat, single destination (i.e., the user specifies a selection of files to restore, and they are all restored into a single folder chosen by the user, completely ignoring the original folder structure).  Another useful option is to trim/ignore the parent folder structure (e.g., a user who wants to restore a folder C:\parent\child\thisfolder should have the option to restore to D:\foo\thisfolder instead of D:\foo\Drive(C)\parent\child\thisfolder).

To a large extent, the functions proposed in suggestion #2 can be accomplished by mounting the image in File Explorer, but I think many users would appreciate having such functions in the Reflect GUI.  However, suggestion #1 is something that may represent a dealbreaker for some potential new customers, so if it can be implemented without disrupting the workflow that current Reflect users are accustomed to, that investment may pay dividends.

If any of the above suggestions are accepted, I will make sure to report back on this in the Acronis forums...  Smile
jphughan
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The ability to add individual files was briefly added to the V8 beta due to a small number of requests, but was subsequently removed because it didn't work especially well.  Maybe Macrium's existing code base or XML definition file scheme simply isn't easily adapted to picking up a single file, but whatever the reason, Macrium evidently decided that the demand for this capability wasn't high enough to justify the engineering effort to build it properly when weighed against whatever else they might want to build.  To be honest, I've always kind of wondered why that feature was so important.  How many people have a single file that a) needs to be backed up without backing up anything else in the folder, and b) can't be moved to its own dedicated folder?

For restores, you of course have the option to browse the backup, which mounts it as a virtual drive.  And now that V8 has removed the limitation involving files larger than 4GB within the backup, that's a much more viable restore mechanism.  As to why the folder structure works the way it does, I suspect that's because it's possible to create a single F&F job that backs up the root of multiple unrelated folders, e.g. "C:\MyStuff" and "D:\MyOtherStuff", or even the entirety of multiple different volumes.  In those cases, if a user chose to run a single restore job to bring back content originally captured from each of those completely separate sources, but redirect the restored data elsewhere, I'm not sure what other folder structure would make sense for organizing all of that data into that single destination folder.  I suppose it might be possible to code something that says, "When restoring content, the folder structure created at the redirected restore location should start with the deepest folder in the source data hierarchy that still includes all data selected for restore."  Although even with that, you'd still end up with the current folder structure when restoring from a multi-volume backup, because in that case there won't be a single folder that includes all data selected for restore.

Edited 16 June 2021 8:11 PM by jphughan
dbminter
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Wow, I don't remember that in the beta phase.  Smile  But, I'm not denying it.

JK
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I suppose it might be possible to code something that says, "When restoring content, the folder structure created at the redirected restore location should start with the deepest folder in the source data hierarchy that still includes all data selected for restore."


I believe I have seen some kind of implementation like that, but I agree it wouldn't work well when there are source folders form multiple partitions.  The simplest solution would be to disable this option when multiple partitions are simultaneously restored.  So a backup containing D:\old\file1.txt and D:\file2.txt  could be restored to D:\new, resulting in restored file locations D:\new\old\file1.txt and D:\new\file2.txt.

What about the other suggestion, restoring to a single folder without recreating any of the original folder structure?  This is an option I (and others) have used frequently.  If my above example were to be restored with a "single folder" option, the restored file locations would be D:\new\file1.txt and D:\new\file2.txt.

With the singe folder option, it would be the user's responsibility to avoid name collisions, so it doesn't matter too much how the software would react in such cases (files with the same name could be overwritten, ignored, renamed, etc., or the whole restore operation could end with an error message).  The most common use case would probably be recovery of one or more files from a single folder, in which case name collisions would not be an issue.
Roger
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jphughan - 16 June 2021 8:05 PM
To be honest, I've always kind of wondered why that feature was so important.  How many people have a single file that a) needs to be backed up without backing up anything else in the folder, and b) can't be moved to its own dedicated folder?

When working with video is one example of a person that needs to backup individual files daily.

Let´s say that i do a job and comes home with 300 GB video footage. That footage is backed up to onsite and offsite/cloud directly. When starting to work on the footage the video editor creates a project file, you add graphics, you add notes, you add project files from effect app/s, etc. Files that are updated daily. Since the footage already is backed up the only files that are worth backing up now, since they update daily, is the project files, graphics (if they update), notes, etc. And when the project grows one starts to use the Save As or Save a Copy to have multiple verions of the project.

Making image backups in that case, or File and Folder backups that makes multiple backups of the 300 GB footage is just a waste of time and space. Many people including myself do also only take full backups since many of us have been burned when incremental/differential backups fail to restore properly. (That happened to me with an incremental backup yesterday with another backup app in a testing environment.)

 Different people, different needs and different workflows. Smile

JK
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Let´s say that i do a job and comes home with 300 GB video footage.


While I'm leaning in favor of a file picker, wouldn't your particular use case be more elegantly served by using Reflect's file exclusion masks?  Select the folder to backup (with subfolders if you wish) and just exclude those file extensions corresponding to your raw footage files (or more finegrained specification of a file name mask using wildcards).  That seems like it would be a lot more convenient than having to individually click each individual project-related file, which also puts you at risk of inadvertently missing one or more files, and requires you to update your backup job definition each time you add a new file to your project.
Roger
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JK - 30 June 2021 7:23 PM
Let´s say that i do a job and comes home with 300 GB video footage.


While I'm leaning in favor of a file picker, wouldn't your particular use case be more elegantly served by using Reflect's file exclusion masks?  Select the folder to backup (with subfolders if you wish) and just exclude those file extensions corresponding to your raw footage files (or more finegrained specification of a file name mask using wildcards).  That seems like it would be a lot more convenient than having to individually click each individual project-related file, which also puts you at risk of inadvertently missing one or more files, and requires you to update your backup job definition each time you add a new file to your project.

That´s a valid point but i personally feel that those thing were cool to do to outsmart applications in the 90´s but not now 30 years later. (Such as adding/removing code from the Autoexec.bat and Config.ini files.)

All cameras today shoot directly to memory cards and many cameras do not only store the video files but add several metadata files as well, so pretty soon it becomes a mess and you must have a predefined list with all the file extentions so you exclude the correct ones. I have tested it slightly and it happened to many times that the backup seemed to have freezed only to realize that i forgot to exclude the two large .avi files i just added. Iow, that i did not add .avi to the exclusion since the project did not use any .avi files when i started but now three weks later they are there. (Or whatever video extension that will be added. There are many...)

Both methods works but i am so used with picking the files to backup instead of the opposite way, picking the file not to backup. Old habits... Smile

I will download trials in the future to see if proper file selecting has been added.

I am one of those that abandoned True Image 2021.
JK
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I feel like there are ways to work around your problem (e.g., don't worry about excluding the metadata files, since their size is likely to be negligible to that of the large videos; maintain a list video file extensions that you can add to your exclusions; etc.), but I don't want to hijack my own thread...  

For whatever reason, MR is unlikely to (re-)implement a file picker interface anytime soon, and apparently their current user base mostly does not see this as a a problem (i.e., just like you are used to doing things one way, they are used to doing it a different way).  If you're mainly using MR for file/folder backup (not partition imaging), there are probably other solutions that may suit you better.

In case this thread is getting some additional views now that it's been bumped, I would like to put the focus back on the second feature request in my original post -- i.e., more options for where to restore backed up files:

(2) When restoring files, could there be some more options regarding the restored folder structure? For example, a useful option is a flat, single destination (i.e., the user specifies a selection of files to restore, and they are all restored into a single folder chosen by the user, completely ignoring the original folder structure). Another useful option is to trim/ignore the parent folder structure (e.g., a user who wants to restore a folder C:\parent\child\thisfolder should have the option to restore to D:\foo\thisfolder instead of D:\foo\Drive(C)\parent\child\thisfolder).


There is also another relevant Wish List topic on Expanded F&F restore options (by @jphughan), which includes additional ideas for how to improve restore functionality.
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