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files backed up knowledge

Posted on 2014-01-02
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do all files resident on an NTFS file system know when they were last backed up? Are there any tools to show "this file hasnt been backed up recently", and if so where is it pulling that information from?
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Question by:pma111
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Cyclops3590 earned 250 total points
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The archive bit on each file is what is used to know if it was backed up or not.  Not all backup utilities use that, but generally that is what is used.  When a file is backed up, the archive bit is cleared.  When the file changes, the archive bit is set to let the backup software know it needs to be archived again as something has changed.
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by:pma111
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Would there be any tools then to show "no recent backup" type reports?
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by:Cyclops3590
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whatever backup tool you use should have logging.  that is where you'd find that information.
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by:pma111
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but nothing external to any backup software that you could run over the drive to show no recent backup files, using the flag you mentioned above?
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by:Cyclops3590
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use the following command

dir /s /b /A:A /O:-S [starting path]

but again, it depends on if the tool you use use's the archive bit or not.  the windows backup tool will use that though.  That command gives you a list of files with the archive bit set but depends on the starting path you give it.
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by:pma111
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can you elaborate on the "starting path" please?

be useful to udnerstand the switches used in the command too to get an understanding on what its reporting?
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by:Cyclops3590
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like C:\ or C:\Windows.  Whatever path you want to look for the files.  It just gives a starting point and looks down from there.
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by:rindi
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Apart from what has already been said, the archive bit doesn't tell you anything about when the file was last backed up. It only tells you, if it is set, that it has been backed up. But if anything gets changed in the file, that bit gets unset. So once that has happened, you won't know whether the file was ever backed up or not. It only tells you something has changed with the file, or it has never been backed up yet, so it should get backed up (again) with the next backup task.

So as has already been mentioned, the only reliable way to check this is to go through the logs of your backup utility.
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by:pma111
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thanks. be useful to understand the switches used in the command too to get an understanding on what its reporting?
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by:Cyclops3590
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dir /s /b /A:A /O:-S [starting path]

/s - all files in current directory and sub directories
/b - list one directory/file one per line
/A:A - files ready for archiving
/O:-S  - order by size, largest first

all parameters of dir command
http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/dir.mspx?mfr=true
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and rindi is right, there's still no real reliable way to know when the file was last modified.  While files/directories do have time entries recorded in their meta-data on a per object basis, those don't necessary change with the archive bit reliably either.  As rindi and I mentioned though, the backup log is your best bet to know what the backup job actually did.
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