Windows Backup Tool

Posted on 2011-05-05
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
I am using Windows Backup Tool that comes with Windows 2003 Server to do a full backup on Saturday and then a Differential backup from Monday to Friday.

Now I would like to perform a restore for Wednesday's folders.

How do I perform this restore? Do I first restore the Full backup done on Saturday and then restore the Differential done on Wednesday? OR do I select the Wednesday's Differential and it will automatically request for Saturday's Full backup.

Secondly, I also noticed that some folders if not most folders are empty for the Differential Backups done on Wednesday and other days. Why is this?
Question by:ben1211
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment


    Full backup on Saturday will get all files/folders that you selected.

    The differential backup will get all folders/files  that have be modified or created new since the last Full Backup.

    For differential backups (not incremental), You should only need the Wednesday backup  to restore any new files or modified files since Saturday.

    If someone deleted files that have not been modified during Saturday - Wednesday, then those files will need to be restored from the Saturday Full backup.

    LVL 19

    Expert Comment

    by:Miguel Angel Perez Muñoz
    Restore first from saturday´s backup and then, wednesday. Differential backups only copy files new or change since last complete backup. Most folders are empty because files has no changes since last complete backup (saturday).

    Author Comment

    chakko & drashiel....for softwares like Symantec Backup Exec and Veritas Backup and Data Protector....if you do a full backup and a differential backup. Assuming you want to do a restore. which do you select first. Do you select the differential backup for a particular day, and the software then requests for the full backup tape to be restored first? for the Windows Backup tool...I need to first restore the Full backup on Saturday and then the Differential for Wednesday. Other sofwares are different? You select the differential backup and you're asked to restore the the full backup first? Am I correct?
    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution


    There are basically all the same.

    I think your understanding of Full and Differential is not fully clear.

    First thing to consider is what file you need to restore.  Is it a single or group of Files you need to restore, or is it lots and lots of files (all the files).

    If you need to restore All the files use the Full Backup tape first for the restore.  Then you should do a second restore with the Differential Tape.

    Example.  Full Backup on Saturday Night.  Differential Backup Mon, Tue, Wed Night

    on Thursday a user deletes 50 folders from the server - lots and lots of files.

    How to Restore.
    1.  Consider the files to restore.  Do you know all of the file names and when they were created and/or modified?
    2.  Answer is probably NO
    3.  Restore all the files from the Saturday backup --- This puts your Server state to be Saturday Night
    4.  Restore the Differential backup from Wed Night.  --- This will update any files created or modified since Saturday.

    If you now exactly which files you need to restore then the situation could be different.

    1. Full Backup of all files on Saturday night.
    2. Differential Backup of files Mon, Tue, Wed nights
    3.  User of Thursday said they were editing the Contract Document for Customer BBB and they somehow deleted it.  This Document gets updated and worked on every day.
    4.  Since you know this is a file edited frequently you should look first at the Wed differential backup and see if it is located there, and then restore it.
    5.  If you don't see it in Wed backup then check Tjue Backup, then Check Mon  Backup and if you still don't find it, check the Saturday backup.
    6.  If the file was not located on the Differential Mon, Tue, or Wed backup that is OK, but is means that the user's are lying to you because they haven't modified/updated that file since Saturday or Before.  If it was really updated/modified then it would have been on a differential backup.   Or your backup is not working Correctly.

    Also, be carefull when you restore a FULL or Differential Backup.
    You only want to reference the FULL backup only.  Then select which Files you need to restore.  DO NOT just RESTORE the whole FULL backup unless you know what that means.


    Author Comment

    chakko, i'm sorry but am rather confused....

    on Symantec Backup Exec 12, when I tried to restore the Full Backup for a certain folder. After that was done, I was not asked to restore the differential.

    Was I to select, say Wednesday's Differential for the restore, and then I'm prompted to insert the full backup tape first and that tapes place, and then Wednesday's differential runs???
    LVL 22

    Accepted Solution


    You have to decide which order of backup tapes to restore by yourself.

    My way of restoring is this.  

    I do a full backup every Friday (all folders).
    Monday - Thursday I do Differential Backup (all folders selected) each night (10:00pm)

    Users deletes file Document2.doc on Wednesday evening about 5:00 pm

    On Thursday  I need to restore the file.  That file won't be on Wednesday night tape because it was deleted before the backup.  So I check the Tuesday backup for the file.
    I cannot find the file on Tuesday.
    --  This means that Document2.doc has not been modified since the Friday Night Full backup.  The file version from Friday backup is the most current file in the backup system.

    So I check the Friday backup, find the file and restore.

    Case 2:

    on Wednesday the user deletes Document4.doc about 5:00pm

    It won't be in Wednesday's backup because it was deleted before the backup.
    So, I will check Tuesday's backup.  and I find the file.  Then I restore it.
    I noticed that the file timestamp is Tuesday at 1:00pm.  I can know that the last version (modified) of that file was on Tuesday at 1:00pm

    My job Completed.

    Case 3

    User deletes a whole Folder called Contracts on Wednesday at lunch time.

    So on Wednesday, after I get back from lunch, I need to find those files.

    Which files to restore????  too many because the User deleted a folder (lots of files).

    So, I start with the FULL backup from Friday and restore the whole folder.
    --  Let's get back all the files first.

    Then I go to Tuesday's backup and Restore the Contracts folder.

    -- Now the Contracts folder should be restored completely.  We restored the folder from Friday Backup - this was a FULL backup so it has all of the data for Contracts folder.
    -- Then we used the Differential Backup from Tuesday and restored the Contracts folder. (with overwrite existing files option)  This will update/restore any new files (from Friday night -> Tuesday Night) and also any files which have changed or been modified since Friday night.

    --- My job done

    Note:  Now the User says there is a file still missing from the Contracts folder called Invoice1.doc

    I recheck the Tueday and Friday backup.  No file there.
    So I check the Monday backup.  I find the file and restore it.

    -- This file must have been a new file created After Friday night --- probably on Monday.
    The Monday backup detected the new file and backed it up.

    -- But, probably on Tuesday the file got deleted and nobody knows it.
    So, it will not be in the Tuesday night backup.

    Hope that helps


    Author Comment

    Hi Chakko:

    For your CASE 1: You stated that you couldn't find Document2 in Tuesday's differential, so it means it wasn't changed since the full backup. What happens if it was changed on Monday and backed up on Monday at 10pm? You mentioned you see it wasn't changed on Tuesday and went straight for the Full backup. What about Monday?

    CASE 2: You find the file in Tuesday's Differential - How do you restore it? Do you run the restore the full backup first and then Tuesday's differential? correct?
    LVL 22

    Assisted Solution

    case 1 your right, have to check the Monday first, if the file was changed on Monday then it should be in the Monday backup, and you would restore from the Monday backup.

    case 2:  you don't need the full backup for this.  Tuesday's backup will have the most current version of the file in it so you only need to use the Tuesday backup.
    If you went to the Full backup first you would just be restoring the older version of the file, then you would still need the Tuesday backup to get the most recent version (modified on Tuesday at 1PM).

    Restoring the Full backup first in this case would be a wasted step.


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