Are NTFS Data Streams and Attributes supported by your backup destination?

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Hi all,

Many BackupAssist users are enjoying the benefits of file level backup using the BackupAssist File Replication Engine; but with the increased use of this engine, we have seen a rise in support queries relating to backup warnings BA804 and BA807. These warnings are associated with NTFS metadata not being backed up due to the backup destination not being formatted with NTFS.

This blog post is designed to answer common questions about how BackupAssist handles NTFS metadata, as well as how you can should handle these warnings.

What is NTFS?

NTFS (New Technology File System) is the standard file system of Windows NT and later operating systems, including Windows 2000, Windows XP, Server 2003, Server 2008, Windows Vista, and Windows 7. NTFS supersedes the FAT file system for Windows operating systems, and offers several improvements, including support for metadata, greater performance, and better security.

More details concerning the differences between NTFS and FAT can be read about here.

Can I backup to non-NTFS devices?

Yes, you can. However, if you do so, the following information will not be copied on the files you are backing up: NTFS security data (access control lists and owner/group information); extended attributes (originally designed for compatibility with OS/2, but now rarely used); alternative data streams (extra data that can be attached to files); reparse points (e.g. symbolic links, mount points, etc); and other file metadata. This information will not be recovered during a restore if your backup device is not formatted with NTFS.

So what does this mean? Well, very few applications actually use NTFS extended attributes – in fact, we’re unaware of any applications that use this feature. Alternative data streams are mainly used by viruses, Trojans and malware – so it’s probably a good thing that these are not backed up. So the main disadvantage of backing up to a non-NTFS device is losing security information. However, if such security settings and rules are documented (e.g. the “Accounting” folder is only accessible to individuals within the management team) then they should be easy to reproduce.

What types of destinations generally come in a non-NTFS format?

There are a few different hardware devices available that are formatted with a different file system to NTFS. Such devices include, but are not limited to:

  • REV/RDX cartridges
  • Most commercially available NAS devices
  • USB hard drives

Is it possible to convert a hardware device to NTFS?

Yes, it is possible to convert some non-NTFS based hardware to NTFS. These are usually hard drive based media such as USB hard drives and internal hard drives. Certain devices, like the Iomega REV drive, however, use the UDF file system and cannot be converted to NTFS.

For devices that do support NTFS, it’s easy to convert them from non-NTFS to NTFS using the convert command in Windows. From a Windows command prompt (Start Menu > Run > cmd) type the following:

convert f: /FS:NTFS

Where f: is the drive letter of the device you want to convert to NTFS.

You can also type convert /? for further help using the convert command.

How do I remove NTFS warnings from my backup report?

If your backup destination does not support NTFS you will see a warning in your backup report indicating that NTFS metadata could not be copied to the backup destination. If such warnings occur, we recommend that you change the backup destination to a device that is formatted with NTFS or that you convert the file system of the current backup destination to NTFS.

If both of these options are not suitable, however, you can prevent BackupAssist from attempting to back up NTFS metadata altogether.

  1. Launch BackupAssist
  2. Select Edit from the top menu and choose the appropriate File Replication job from the list.
  3. Slect Replication options from the left menu.
  4. Uncheck Copy NTFS security attributes and alternate data streams.

I hope this information gives you a greater understanding about the NTFS warnings in your backup report. If you have any questions about this article please email us at support@backupassist.com.

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