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Best way to identify old files for backup-archive

Posted on 2009-05-15
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Last Modified: 2012-05-07
I'm hitting a road block on a tasking.  
Ojective - to identify and then archive all files on a server that have not been accessed in the last two years.  Sounds simple, right?  Not so much...

Normally, we would just want to key off of the Last Accessed Date, but it looks like its horribly unreliable and seems to change based on how hard the wind is blowing.  Really strange behavior.  
The modified date is good, but not what my director wants us to use.  

How do you handle archiving of old data?  Is there another windows option that you use?  Is there a 3rd party app that does this for you?  Im not finding anything really definitive in my searches.  Were just trying to find our way through yet another strange and challenging obstacle course of requirements.
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Question by:mltets
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14 Comments
 
LVL 16

Assisted Solution

by:speshalyst
speshalyst earned 80 total points
ID: 24398207
check this out.. might be handy.. it a shareware..
http://www.sharewareplaza.com/Remove-Old-Files-download_37430.html
 
 
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:mltets
ID: 24398236
This is like most of the ones that I've seen.  The problem is that the Last Accessed Date isn't reliable.  In its current form I can't use it...  Unless there's something out there screwing it up.
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:speshalyst
ID: 24398294
you should decide on the attribute you would be using.. like  modified date.. but if that is not allowed by ur management.. then we need to find out something that would suit them
 
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LVL 88

Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 80 total points
ID: 24398306
The problem is that Antivirus scanners will touch those files when scanning the system. So I don't think there is a way to do that.
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:mltets
ID: 24398557
It's one of those "I will do everything to defy you" problems.  I asked our parent company (huge) and they said "We just add more disk."   Har!
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 24398618
That's an IT persons highest wish! unlimited budget for hardware to play with!
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LVL 16

Expert Comment

by:speshalyst
ID: 24398638
so are we gonna be archiving these old files now?
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:mltets
ID: 24398654
Not without a better way of identifying them.  The functionality that's "supposed" to be provided by the Last Accessed Date is what we really need, but It looks like it just ain't there.  Unless somebody knows of some other solution....
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Assisted Solution

by:harrytrey
harrytrey earned 80 total points
ID: 24399182
FolderSizes is the best tool this type of analysis.  It does have the challenges associated with the file system, but also has some other ways to go at the problem.

- Duplicate file detection - you will be amazed by this.
- Sizes by type - you can find temp files etc.

Free trial, and cheap.  Also has command line interface, so you could script/schedule it to run if you wanted to trend.
www.foldersizes.com
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LVL 17

Assisted Solution

by:OriNetworks
OriNetworks earned 80 total points
ID: 24404641
What writing some kind of script that combines creation date, last accessed, and last modified. Like if creation date is more than 3 years ago, last modified is more than 2 years, and last accessed is more than 1 year??  Very easy to do in powershell.
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:mltets
ID: 24411854
The only problem is that the last accessed date is unreliable.  Virtually useless, so making any determination based on it is kind of pointless.  I don't know if there is a solution for this problem at all, but wanted to ask.  Basically, Microsoft messed up when they coded it and I can't seem to find a good alternative.
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 24412464
I think for once M$ is relatively free of guilt here, because as any tool like an AV software can "open" a file, and that would change the last accessed date. Probably those other tools would require some sort of function that prevents any such date changes.
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LVL 4

Author Comment

by:mltets
ID: 24444578
FYI - we've opened a case with Microsoft about how best to track unused files.  The best they've been able to come up with so far is just turning the last accessed date off.  
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LVL 4

Accepted Solution

by:
mltets earned 0 total points
ID: 24897545
It looks like there's no way around the inherant Microsoft way of keeping dates...   Thanks for all your help everyone..   <sigh>
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