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Article ID: 970914 - Last Review: May 4, 2009 - Revision: 1.0

Source: Microsoft Support

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Windows Backup for Windows Vista backs up files by creating multiple backup files in a .zip format and then saves those files to the selected backup location. This article describes how to manually restore files that were backed up using Windows Backup in instances where you are looking for specific files or don’t have access to a computer running the same Operating system used for the original backup.

This content is intended for advanced users.

 

 

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Windows Backup splits the files among a series of zip files with a non-configurable maximum size of 200 MB (or smaller if the media has less than 200 MB available). Backup is designed to avoid splitting files across zips and media if possible. The logic Backup uses is as follows:

  • Only files that are bigger than 200MB (before compression) will be split across one or more zips.

  • If a file is too big to fit a zip that already has other files, Backup will forcibly start a new zip, thus not splitting the file across zips if possible.

  • If the media has very little free space left, Backup will start a new media instead of splitting a file across media.

  • Backup delays backing up the big files until the end so that it can pick as many small files as possible before starting new media.

  • If a file’s streams are small enough to fit the current zip, but when combined they do not, Backup will start a new zip instead of putting streams in separate zips. 


Extracting and combining these files into their original state requires you to search these individual 200MB or less sized .Zip files to locate the desired files and then extract them to a working folder and then copy and append the files into a the original single file. Keep in mind that files are only broken into smaller files if the original size was larger than 200MB.

Step 1: Locate the needed files in within the backup zip files:

1.        I open my backup media (a DVD) and browse to the Backup Files <Date> folder

Files in this folder should be similar to the following:

Backup Files 1.zip

Backup Files 2.zip

Backup Files 3.zip

Backup Files 4.zip

Backup Files 5.zip

2.        Browse through the .zip files until you find the needed files. We’ll use the file name of MyFile.doc as an example.

As an example, your MyFile.doc file has been broken into 5 files across 3 .zip files and may look similar to the following:

 

Backup Files 3.zip

MyFile.doc          DOC file                                200,036 KB

MyFile.doc          DOC file                                137 KB

Backup Files 4.zip

MyFile.doc          DOC file                                834 KB

MyFile.doc          DOC file                                738 KB

Backup Files 5.zip

MyFile.doc          DOC file                                96 KB

                  MyVideo.mpv      MVP file                               400 KB

3.        Since the files within the zip all have the same name, you can’t just extract them all to the same folder.

4.        Create a target folder on your desktop called MyFile

5.        With the first zip file open, copy the first file from the .zip file to the target folder. Then rename the file by appending -1 to the end of the file name but in front of the .3 letter file extension. Repeat this for each file in each of the .zip files and increment the number by 1. The results should be similar to the following:

MyFile-1.doc                      DOC file                                200,036 KB

MyFile-2.doc                      DOC file                                137 KB

MyFile-3.doc                      DOC file                                834 KB

MyFile-4.doc                      DOC file                                738 KB

MyFile-5.doc                      DOC file                                96 KB

6.        I open the command prompt, navigate to the folder where your doc files are stored, and then type the following command and press Enter

copy /b MyDock*.doc MyDoc.doc

7.        The resulting files in the MyFile folder should look similar to the following:

MyFile.doc                          DOC file                                201841 KB

MyFile-1.doc                      DOC file                                200,036 KB

MyFile-2.doc                      DOC file                                137 KB

MyFile-3.doc                      DOC file                                834 KB

MyFile-4.doc                      DOC file                                738 KB

MyFile-5.doc                      DOC file                                96 KB

8.        When extracting backed up files in this maner, certain file attributes are not maintaine. These attributes are as follows:

  • Alternate streams. ( Backup stores theseas separate files in the zip)

  • Timestamps for file create, modification, and access.

  • The file’s access control list (ACL).

  • The file path/name (if the file path was longer that 260 characters at the time of the backup, this is usually rare, since you can't touch these files from Explorer)

  • Any characters from a language that doesn't have ANSI code page (aka Unicode-only language). For example, Hindi and Georgian.

  • Any characters from a language that is not the current language on the machine. For example, all Bulgarian letters on a Japanese machine. (This and the previous bullet are not Backup limitations, but zip format [designed for MS-DOS and 8088] limitations.)

  • The NTFS compression attribute. (The files will need to be recompressed after being extract)

  • The sparse attribute.

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APPLIES TO
  • Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Ultimate
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