Coffeehouse Thread

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Win8 Backup was poor, but 8.1 makes it worse.

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  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    Responded in an MS answers thread:

    http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1_pr-files/file-history-in-81/96dca7ff-03b0-4dfc-a4ff-1b70fa94b26e?tm=1373731683819#_self

    The long and the short of it: With File History in 8.1, any files from your Skydrive folder are excluded.  Manually adding it to the Library will not work, FH will actively skip them.  The reasoning, at least according to the MS rep in that forum, is that MS considers Skydrive "already backed up" in the cloud.

    As I (depressingly) explained, Cloud Storage is not backup.  You have no version control.  So when you get problems like I did with a good portion of your Skydrive files being wiped out due to bad sync conditions, you would be screwed.  Not to mention the considerable time it would take to restore from a damaged system, as there's no possibility of image backup now.  Or manually adding folder locations that you haven't put in your Library.

    Furthmore, File History, and modern apps in general, make heavy use of Libraries.  But now MS is hiding Libraries by default for some reason, making them less opaque.  It's just so amazingly bizarre.

    Backup in Windows 8 IMO, is completely broken.  How MS continually flails around with this aspect of Windows in their client OS's is beyond me, it's never been great but at least in Windows7 it was miles ahead of this.

  • User profile image
    contextfree`

    Good post. The situation seems pretty screwed up.

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    I can see MS's side with excluding Skydrive files, but I have no idea why they're hiding libraries by default. That's one of the best things that came out of Vista.

  • User profile image
    Craig_​Matthews

    , spivonious wrote

    I can see MS's side with excluding Skydrive files, but I have no idea why they're hiding libraries by default. That's one of the best things that came out of Vista.

    Afraid I can't see MS's side on excluding Skydrive files because it violates IT 101: Live data and Backup data are separate things. If I delete a file or modify a file out of my local Skydrive folder, the next time it synchronizes, it's deleted or modified in the cloud. That's not backup, that's synchronization of live data between two storage locations. It's like taking two replicated DFS targets and calling one of them a backup -- it's patently false because the function of both technologies is to provide access to live data through different means/channels. Deletions and modifications to data are assumed to be intentional so the changes are permanently replicated.

    The function of backup technology is to safeguard data over time away from direct live access and allow reversion to previous versions or recovery of deleted files. Modifications or deletions of files are not assumed to be intentional, but are assumed to be either intentional or unintentional. Backup and data synchronization are related but entirely different things meant for entirely different purposes, requiring mostly different handling.

    The only way the Skydrive cloud is a "backup" of your local Skydrive folder is if your local Skydrive folder is destroyed and you're lucky enough that it didn't synchronize it's own destruction to the cloud and the rest of your Skydrive client devices.

    "Damn I just wiped half the crap in my Skydrive folder. QUICK turn off all the other computers so the sync doesn't delete it on them too!" is not backup.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    Bingo CM.  As I explained in that MS Community post, I would have lost a huge chunk of my data due to that sync problem with a screwed up timestamp, never to return if I didn't have a local backup. 

    I really hope this is just some technical issue in the preview that's currently preventing this.  If some engineer with the Skydrive team actually recommended it be removed from the default backup selection because "It's in the cloud", they should not have the ability to provide technical input on any project in the future.  That's just laughably ignorant.

    End users should not have to explain to MS what the differences between replication and backup is.

     

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , NitzWalsh wrote

    *snip*

    As I (depressingly) explained, Cloud Storage is not backup.  You have no version control.

    *snip*

    Backup is backup, and version control is version control.

    If you're maintaining a backup for disaster recovery, you don't want the different copies to be of different versions.

    So cloud storage IS backup. What cloud storage is not is version control.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    You may notice that the initial question about SkyDrive in File History in that thread was asked by me.

    This, along with the inability to customize the local SkyDrive storage location and the complete crippling of the photos app (which now only shows local photos, not SkyDrive, Facebook or anything elsel; not even the local network), is one of the most baffling removals of pre-existing functionality from Windows 8.1.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    Out of curiosity, does File History work with network drives?

    If so, you could try creating a network share pointing to your SkyDrive folder, and then map the share's UNC path to a drive letter. Then try adding the mapped drive to File History.

     

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    , cbae wrote

    Out of curiosity, does File History work with network drives?

    File History only works with Libraries, basically. It backs up libraries, the desktop, contacts, and favourites. It does not allow you to manually select additional folders to back up. In Windows 8, it did the aforementioned locations and SkyDrive (if the SkyDrive desktop app was installed), but the latter was removed for some reason.

    Somehow, by including SkyDrive sync in the OS, it actually feels like it's become less integrated than before.

    I actually still run a Windows 7 style backup job (you can use those and File History at the same time, though it takes some doing) to backup my svn repositories which aren't in any of those locations. I may just add the SkyDrive folder to that job.

    And in case anyone wonders, adding the SkyDrive folder to a library does not work.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , Sven Groot wrote

    *snip*

    File History only works with Libraries, basically. It backs up libraries, the desktop, contacts, and favourites. It does not allow you to manually select additional folders to back up.

    But you can manually add any arbitrary folder into your libraries--even network locations provided that they are indexed.

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    @cbae: Like I said, if you add SkyDrive to a library, that still doesn't work.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    I added my SkyDrive folder to my index options. I then created a network share on the folder. I mapped the UNC path to a drive letter. I then added the new drive letter to my Documents library.

    Interestingly, when viewing the SkyDrive files using new drive letter, the green checkboxes don't appear. So to the OS, it's just like any other folder.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    , Sven Groot wrote

    @cbae: Like I said, if you add SkyDrive to a library, that still doesn't work.

    I said try adding it as a network share. Or more precisely, a network share mapped to a drive letter.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    , cbae wrote

    *snip*

    Backup is backup, and version control is version control.

    If you're maintaining a backup for disaster recovery, you don't want the different copies to be of different versions.

    This isn't like DFS from Server->Offsite location.  The problem is you really don't have a single source of ultimate truth, if it were simple data mirroring then I may be able to see this argument.

    You can possibly have a multitude of sources with at times wildly varying connection speeds, all trying to overwrite a file at relatively the same time, or files.  This is why you'll occasionally see a "Filexx-PC.LivingRoom" in your Skydrive folder if you've been jumping back and forth between systems and their internet connectivity is not constant.  Skydrive doesn't know if it should overwrite the file for a multitude of reasons, so it saves the recent version as separate.

    Ironically this was one of the reasons given why Mesh's great PC->PC LAN sync was killed as the sync across multiple devices could apparently prove problematic (so let's do it over 1mbit uplink speeds I guess?).

    So cloud storage IS backup. What cloud storage is not is version control.

    Yes. In other words, a very crappy backup system. Smiley

    If you want to play the war of figurative vs. literal, knock yourself out.  But there's a reason those of us in IT have this mantra of "Duplication is not backup" - it may not be 100% accurate with respect to the language, but it's meant to foster a mindset and instill the discipline that simply having a "copy" of a single point in time is nowhere near sufficient to refer to it as a viable backup system for any business. 

    The point is that with your most important files in Skydrive, you do not have the option to make that distinction even if you're aware of it.  It's either/or which is ridiculous.  You can certainly make the argument that Skydrive should not store versions of your files going back to perpetuity, of course not - there's not enough storage for that.  So you put the responsibility of that on the consumer if they want that level of control.  The problem is 8.1 specifically removes it.  Why in the hell would MS care if I'm backing up my own Skydrive folder?  It's mine, the files are local on my system - how does this make things simpler? 

    With Previous Versions in Windows7, you at least had that distinction.  It was indeed a versioning system, and it worked well - one, because it was enabled by default on your boot drive without any further config.  Two, because it used VSS, the data required to keep the versions was minimal.  That, and the fact they're stored on your same drive - it's obvious that they won't survive a hardware failure. People generally know that to have a solid backup, it has to reside on another source.

    So, you also ran Win7 backup.  One program.  Backs up your entire system.  It doesn't skip certain directories, "just 'cuz".  What, will 8.2 scan for DropBox and iCloud/Gdrive folders and "assist me" by skipping them?

    Backup should backup my files.  Simply because one of the folder structures is replicated to the cloud does not mean I don't require to go back in time to a specific period and restore a specific version.  If anything, the nature of cloud storage where a single change can suddenly effect a whole slew of systems with no ability to go revert that makes versioning more important and inherent to the backup system.

    I mean really, the entire point of revisiting MS backup was to make it simpler and easier, especially for consumers.  This does not.  It requires them to understand that backup is backup - except you know, when it isn't.

  • User profile image
    Lizard​Rumsfeld

    I actually still run a Windows 7 style backup job (you can use those and File History at the same time, though it takes some doing) to backup my svn repositories which aren't in any of those locations. I may just add the SkyDrive folder to that job.

    Despite the awful name, at least in Win8 with Win7 File Recovery option, you had the ability to do the old-style backups

    ARS does a nice dive into the swamp that was Win8's backup:

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/12/using-windows-8s-hidden-backup-to-clone-and-recover-your-whole-pc/

    Win 8.1 "fixes" this - by just removing these options entirely.  No more image backup or Win7 style backup, they're just gone. 

    I'm hoping this is just an excised feature from Win 8.1 preview as they were working to actually merge the two systems and not have it buried under a Win7 sounding name, and just ran out of time before the preview (I believe that's the case with the Photo's app, I can't see it not connecting to Skydrive automatically when 8.1 ships, especially since 8.1 automatically creates a SkyDrive "Pictures" folder for you at its root).

    I can imagine there's going to be more than a few confused users that download the 8.1 upgrade from the store and find out they lose critical backup functionality or perhaps not even be able to restore their previous backups done on 8.1.  Surely MS is accounting for this...? (How many times did I say those words during the 8.0 beta test process though...)

    It's really two problems - the lack of proper backup, and making Libraries more opaque on the desktop - yet having fast search, File History, and virtually every Metro app rely on them.  Really, wtf, wtf, wtf.

  • User profile image
    cbae

    The UNC path doesn't seem to work. When you add it the first time, the folder location appears as a UNC path. But if you close the library dialog and go back, the UNC path is converted to a local path.

  • User profile image
    Ray7

    , Craig_​Matthews wrote

    *snip*

    Afraid I can't see MS's side on excluding Skydrive files because it violates IT 101: Live data and Backup data are separate things. If I delete a file or modify a file out of my local Skydrive folder, the next time it synchronizes, it's deleted or modified in the cloud. That's not backup, that's synchronization of live data between two storage locations. 

    That is exactly how I see it. If the file disappears from the cloud when you delete it from your local machine then the cloud is not a backup.

    The problem Apple had with iCloud is explaining to folk that it is a syncing engine and not a file storage platform; you still need to back up your local files.

    , NitzWalsh wrote

    Furthmore, File History, and modern apps in general, make heavy use of Libraries.  But now MS is hiding Libraries by default for some reason, making them less opaque.  It's just so amazingly bizarre.

    I suspect they did it to stop users from breaking apps by fiddling with library files. Apple did the same thing last year and it didn't go down well. In the end, Cupertino had to introduce a hotkey to expose the library folder for the expert users.

    cbae wrote

    *snip*

    Backup is backup, and version control is version control.

    If you're maintaining a backup for disaster recovery, you don't want the different copies to be of different versions.

    If you're maintaining a backup without versioning then how do you know that you are not restoring a broken system? I would have thought that you would want to maintain time-based backups.

     

  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    , NitzWalsh wrote

    I believe that's the case with the Photo's app, I can't see it not connecting to Skydrive automatically when 8.1 ships, especially since 8.1 automatically creates a SkyDrive "Pictures" folder for you at its root

    Yet in this thread MS actually says they deliberately removed that feature and does not intend to put it back: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows8_1_pr-pictures/photos-app-in-81-loses-most-of-its-best-features/24ae3087-e627-4813-a887-49333a0d12dc

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