Deleted file strategies (not imaging)

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by axial, Jun 20, 2009.

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  1. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    Would appreciate comments on strategies for "background", unattended, deleted file backup. This is separate from disk imaging as a disaster recovery process (we have that covered with ShadowProtect). WinXP SP2

    What I'm trying to conceptualize is some way to backup deleted files so that file deletions aren't "gone forever". Something that is complimentary to the ShadowProtect incremental process -- or integrated into ShadowProtect, that would be totally cool -- in other words a background process that will handle this scenario:

    1. Say I create a brand new base image file at the start of each month.
    2. On June 11 I create file "xyz.txt" on my system. It gets included in a ShadowProtect continuous incremental.
    3. On June 12 I delete xyz.txt file. The deletion would be logged as a change in the incremental.
    4. Whenever the next collapse of incrementals runs (weekly, monthly, whatever) xyz.txt is then forever gone.

    Am I wrong about the eventual deletion of the actual file from the collapsed monthly image?

    This thread on the SP forum indicates possible ways to use the Recycle Bin to recover files, but that's not reliable enough to do what I want.

    I guess the description of what I want would be something like: When I delete a file the util would move it to a compressed holding bin, giving it a unique ID name or directory name (which is pretty much the function of the Windows Recycle Bin, of course). On a scheduled basis this holding bin would be emptied by moving the contents to a specified "archive drive".

    There would need to be configuration options to allow for filters for file types, or applying only to specified paths/directories, so that the number of files could be minimized -- there wouldn't be much point in backing up system files or application files, just user files.

    Sysinternals used to have a util "Fundelete" which doesn't seem to be available now that seems to have had similar this functionality (description here )

    Any other strategies?
     
  2. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Hi Axial

    Your right about the continuous incrementals. You could elect to save all the daily continuous incrementals, but that's a mess.

    Another solution, and I just tested it. I use AJC Software's Active Backup. So in specified directories, with specified types of files, any time they are closed or save, that version is archived. You can specify, how many versions, and how long to keep them. So then you delete the file. No big deal. You can either directly run the companion archive program and find the file in the archive or just create a new empty version of the file, right click and the archive revision will be found.

    Pete
     
  3. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    hey, Peter, that looks like a very good fit -- will test it out this weekend. Thank you! (your postings were the key to getting me into the stability zone that is ShadowProtect, so I'm doubly in your debt) :D
     
  4. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    I just came across another util that has a lot of potential:

    SecondCopy
     
  5. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Question dawned on me after I logged off last. As cheap as disk space is, if you think you are later going to need a file, why delete it?
     
  6. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    Peter asked:
    Granted, and that's why contemplating this "backup, not delete" strategy is even possible. But even so, what's needed is an automated, "invisible to the user" way to deal with this accumulated content, so that directories don't become huge dust-bunny clogged monsters, or require some additional effort to copy files from "active" to "stored" locations, or require inventing some complex directory naming scheme to deal with the various backups.

    I'm imagining something that's similar to a Subversion repository process, except that it runs in the background and only handles deleted files and doesn't require the user to proactively think about archiving rather than just deleting files. I don't want the user to have to think "am I later going to need this file", that would defeat the whole purpose. For any give file I might say no today, but 6 months from now the answer might be completely opposite.

    The other side of the requirement is a way to find files once they're backed up. I store many ShadowProtect backups, sans incrementals, as standalone snapshots, going back to when I started with SP a year ago. But to find a file that I might have had sometime about a year ago can potentially take a lot of effort, mounting multiple images and then trying to locate it by thinking back, "ok, the target file was before I did this other file, so I'll look backward from this date". And still, none of those standalone backups might have the one key file in them, because I created and deleted it in between snapshots.

    Thinking about the storage & organization aspects, this could be user-configurable, but for example if there was something like a SQLite database that could be set up to grab specific file types as they were being deleted and store them as blobs in a database on the local system. Then at user-specified times or when the current file got to certain size threshold, the "current" database would rolled-up into the archive backup repository (which presumably is on an external disk or NAS or whatever) and the current file emptied.

    If controlling size of the databases was an issue, maybe the user could setup whatever configuration they wanted, e.g.
    • Date-centric, meaning that backup archives represented a period of time, "2007 deleted file archive", "2006" and so on. Or monthly, even, assuming that they realized they might have to search multiple backups.
    • File-type centric, meaning that specific file types were kept in discreet backups, all .txt together, all .xsl together, etc.
    • Drive or directory centric, meaning all files that were deleted from the specified locations are kept together.

    And then a database browser utility such as SQLMaestros as show in this screenshot SQLite Maestro could be used to let the user dig through the deleted files in any way they wanted, giving a hierarchical way to sort the blobs by date, view by file type and then by date, search for content strings to find the target blob, and so on.
     
  7. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Phew, my head is spinning. But honestly, unless the files are big, and the numbers are really huge, why not just leave, them. If the user is absolutely positive, fine delete it, otherwise leave it. Then maybe quarterly, just purge stuff that hasn't been touched for say 18 months.

    Use the KISS principle. Simple
     
  8. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    I've found a similar concept used in iphone support and for music management, called "file slurpers". So now I just need a variation called "deleted file slurper and manager".

    edit: Maybe SyncBackPro might be a possibility, if it can be configured to watch just for deleted files, or just watch the recycle bin.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2009
  9. CatFan432

    CatFan432 Registered Member

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    ViceVersa Pro might work (http://www.tgrmn.com/); along with their VV Engine. The main program has a versatile set of options for archiving, the VV Engine adds to that versatility. I do use the main program, but I have not used the VV Engine add-on. 30 day full feature trial.
     
  10. axial

    axial Registered Member

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    CatFan432, thank you for suggesting ViceVersaPro. I've prowled through their site and it seems that they might be a possibility.

    Another possibility is PeerSync, which in the features list says:

     
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