The support forum

Copying open files

Alex Pankratov :

Dec 18, 2013

A copy-paste from the email exchange


Regarding copying open files - yes, Bvckup can do that.

There's something called "Volume Shadow Copying", which is the Windows' native service meant exactly for this sort of scenario. Basically, the app would ask VSS (VSS = Volume Shadow Service) to create a snapshot of a volume, then it would run a backup off that snapshot and dispose it after the backup is complete. As you can probably see this is a very useful feature and it is extensively used by all backup programs.

There are several caveats, of course.

First is that VSS is - for the lack of a better word - fragile. If it works, it works. But sometimes it would get into a state where it starts spitting out random errors and getting it out of this state is a voodoo art.

Second caveat, creating a snapshot is privileged operation and it requires full admin rights. Not that this is unexpected though.

Third caveat is that it may take up to 5 minutes to create a snapshot. Typically it's under a minute, but it may take longer and this makes this a poor choice for real-time backups.

You can control the use of VSS through "Shadow Copying" preference in backup's configuration, in More Options panel. There's a little popup hint that explains all four options, just hover your mouse over the "?" mark.

[1] http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/bb968832%28v=vs.85%29.aspx
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_Copy

hasmanytrees :

Dec 18, 2013

I've run into an issue where when using VSS to backup a copy of my Outlook .ost file bvckup says that it can't find the file needing to be backed up in the shadow copy.  Any ideas?

2013.12.18 16:07:56.108 (UTC+7) 2 3 File is in use and cannot be copied as is
2013.12.18 16:07:56.108 (UTC+7) 2 3 Enabling shadow copying and taking a snapshot of the source volume ...
2013.12.18 16:07:57.259 (UTC+7) 3 4 Snapshot ID: c481c056-c986-45cd-a54d-702cc0f9f4a3
2013.12.18 16:08:10.952 (UTC+7) 3 4 Completed in 14 sec
2013.12.18 16:08:11.352 (UTC+7) 3 4 Effective src path: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy27\Users\frobertson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
2013.12.18 16:08:11.352 (UTC+7) 2 3 Retrying the file copying ...
2013.12.18 16:08:11.352 (UTC+7) 3 3 Timestamps
2013.12.18 16:08:11.352 (UTC+7) 3 4 Source  : created 130108000962443427, modified 130318809713777882
2013.12.18 16:08:11.613 (UTC+7) 0 3 Error: file not found
2013.12.18 16:08:11.613 (UTC+7) 3 4 Function: FindFirstFile
2013.12.18 16:08:11.614 (UTC+7) 3 4 Context: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy27\Users\frobertson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\FRobertson@us.ci.org.ost
2013.12.18 16:08:11.614 (UTC+7) 3 3 Not completed
2013.12.18 16:08:12.948 (UTC+7) 2 2 Removing VSS snapshot ...

2013.12.18 16:08:14.531 (UTC+7) 3 3 Completed in 1.58 sec
2013.12.18 16:08:15.531 (UTC+7) 2 1 Completed in 19 sec with 1 error

hasmanytrees :

Dec 19, 2013

If I change the settings of this backup to require VSS then it determines that there are no files to backup.

2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 0 Running the backup ...
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 1 Preparing ...
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 2 Run number: 15
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 2 Source: C:\Users\frobertson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 2 Destination: E:\Bvckup\Outlook\
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 2 Copying: contents, timestamps (modified and created), attributes
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 2 Verifying configuration ...
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 Normalized src path: \\?\c:\users\frobertson\appdata\local\microsoft\outlook\
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 Normalized dst path: \\?\e:\bvckup\outlook\
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 2 Checking source location ...
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 OK
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 2 Checking destination location ...
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 OK
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 2 Filtering rules
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 Exclude everything by default
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 3 Included files
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 3 4 .\FRobertson@us.ci.org.ost
2013.12.19 13:33:49.687 (UTC+7) 2 2 Taking snapshot of the source volume ...
2013.12.19 13:33:50.884 (UTC+7) 3 3 Snapshot ID: bb78052d-20f7-4e75-a577-4b25232234d9
2013.12.19 13:34:01.607 (UTC+7) 3 3 Completed in 11 sec
2013.12.19 13:34:02.207 (UTC+7) 3 3 Effective src path: \\?\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy14\Users\frobertson\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\
2013.12.19 13:34:02.207 (UTC+7) 2 2 Scanning source ...
2013.12.19 13:34:02.390 (UTC+7) 3 3 Completed in 183 ms
2013.12.19 13:34:02.390 (UTC+7) 3 3 0 folders, 0 files, 0 bytes
2013.12.19 13:34:02.390 (UTC+7) 2 2 Loading destination snapshot ...
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 3 0 folders, 0 files, 0 bytes
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 2 2 Deducing changes ...
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 3 File system information
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 4 Source
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 Type : NTFS
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Created" timestamps : supported
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Created" granularity : 100 ns (100 ns probed, 100 ns deduced)
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Modified" granularity : 100 ns (100 ns probed, 100 ns deduced)
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 Supported discretionary attributes : read-only, hidden, system, archive, temporary
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 4 Destination
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 Type : NTFS
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Created" timestamps : supported
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Created" granularity : 100 ns (100 ns probed, 100 ns deduced)
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 "Modified" granularity : 100 ns (100 ns probed, 100 ns deduced)
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 5 Supported discretionary attributes : read-only, hidden, system, archive, temporary
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 3 Timestamp granularity
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 4 "Created" : 100 ns
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 4 "Modified" : 100 ns
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 3 Compiling raw list of changes ...
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 3 4 Done
2013.12.19 13:34:02.391 (UTC+7) 2 1 No changes detected
2013.12.19 13:34:02.703 (UTC+7) 2 2 Removing VSS snapshot ...

2013.12.19 13:34:04.474 (UTC+7) 3 3 Completed in 1.77 sec
2013.12.19 13:34:05.124 (UTC+7) 2 1 Completed in 15 sec with no errors

Alex Pankratov :

Dec 20, 2013

Any ideas?


VSS has a mechanism that allows apps to influence the snapshot creation process and Outlook is one of few apps that utilizes this option. In fact I'm guessing that Outlook was THE reason why VSS got this functionality in the first place, with MSSQL being the second contender.

In this particular case, my guess would be that Outlook thinks that these .ost files are not worthy of inclusion into the snapshots, so it instructs VSS to skip over them. Do keep in mind that it's universally accepted that VSS is used for backup purposes, so perhaps Outlook thinks that .ost files aren't meant to be backed up. Why it would think that is another question and I don't have an answer for that.

hasmanytrees :

Dec 23, 2013

Thanks for the reply Alex, lots of great thoughts in there.  I'd agree that Outlook must determine that .ost file don't need to be backed up as they are downloaded from the server if they ever go missing for some reason.  Outlook does allow .pst files to be backed up just fine.  Thanks for such a great tool Alex!

Miles :

Mar 11, 2016

Hi you guys,

Outlook OST files (but not PST files) are excluded by VSS by default. This behavior can be changed by deleting the OutlookOST subkey in HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\BackupRestore\FilesNotToSnapshot. See https://kb.acronis.com/content/48032 and https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/filecab/2007/01/24/why-completepc-backup-does-not-include-ost-files-in-the-backup-image/ for more information.

Aloha,

Miles

Alex Pankratov :

Mar 11, 2016

Thanks, Miles.

kdj3003 :

Apr 06, 2017

I changed the registry according to Miles' suggestion but still get the "Error: source file is locked" when backing up an OST file with Outlook running.

Alex Pankratov :

Apr 06, 2017

You don't need and don't want to copy .ost files. These are temporary files used to store transient Outlook data when it's in offline mode. Even if you manage to copy them, you won't be able to _restore_ them afterwards.

Miles :

Apr 06, 2017

You don't need and don't want to copy .ost files.


Microsoft agrees[1]:

Outlook Data Files (.ost) are always copies of items that are saved on a mail server and don’t need to be backed up like Outlook Data Files (.pst).


However, I must humbly disagree.

What if a virus/ransomware/accident/etc destroys your local copy _and_ the copy on the server (not unlikely given that changes are synced)? Are there mail server backups? And are they accessible by you? What about for webmail accounts?

Even if you manage to copy them, you won't be able to _restore_ them afterwards.


There are many options for restoring, recovering, or viewing data in OST files:

Using Outlook to Recover Data from Offline Storage Files (OSTs)
http://blogs.catapultsystems.com/gtate/archive/2010/03/24/using-outlook-to-recover-data-from-offline-storage-files-osts/

Kernel OST Viewer (free)
http://www.nucleustechnologies.com/ost-viewer.html
Open and view OST files without Outlook

Kernel for OST to PST (paid)
http://www.nucleustechnologies.com/exchange-ost-recovery.html
Repair and convert corrupt OST files to PST files. Quick OST to PST conversion, keeping the original folder hierarchy intact and without making any data loss.

OST PST Viewer (free and paid)
http://www.ostpstviewer.com
View PST and OST files in a few clicks without Microsoft Outlook. Open PST and OST orphaned Outlook data files. Search and export Contacts, Calendar, and email folders content to PST and other file formats.

Stellar OST to PST Converter (paid)
https://www.stellarinfo.com/convert-ost-to-pst.php
Convert OST to PST even after OST file damaged or corrupt & save OST file into a newly created PST file

DataNumen Exchange Recovery (paid)
https://www.datanumen.com/exchange-recovery/
OST recovery and OST to PST conversion

PST Walker (paid)
http://www.pstwalker.com/how-to-convert-ost-to-pst-file.html
Scan and export .OST file to MSG and EML format

Recoveryfix for OST to PST (paid)
http://www.osttopstconverter.recoveryfix.com/
Fixes Total OST Corruption Problems + Saves to PST (In MS Outlook)

Outlook Recovery Toolbox (paid)
https://www.oemailrecovery.com/outlook-recovery.html
Read and convert Offline Storage files (.ost files) of Microsoft Exchange to .pst files of Microsoft Outlook (convert .ost to .pst files, convert ost to pst)

[1] https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Open-or-import-items-from-an-offline-Outlook-Data-File-ost-A584963E-A66D-4D9D-8845-31CB270F6880

NARBS :

Apr 10, 2017

Where I work, we purchased a license for PST Walker.  The older version we have is absolute crap for the interface; however, once you get past that, the program works very well.  A newer version may have a better GUI; and I hope it does.

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