Reducing the size of network backups in Windows

By excluding network backups of unwanted file types, admins can decrease the amount of space consumed on a network while speeding up the nightly backup process.

Corporate culture is such that you probably don't have hundreds of users uploading anything and everything they

want to a network. However, it's likely that there are some MP3 files or other types of data on your network that have nothing to do with company business. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to get NTBACKUP to exclude unwanted data types.

To do so, open NTBACKUP and choose the Options command from the Tools menu. Windows will then display the Options properties sheet. Go to the properties sheet's Exclude Files tab, shown in Figure A.

Figure A

As you can see in the figure, NTBACKUP is configured to skip certain files by default. These are typically pieces of the Windows operating system that remain open or that should not be replaced if you have to restore Windows. You can, however, add specific file names or file types to this list. For example, you could add the MP3 file extension to prevent NTBACKUP from backing up any MP3 files that it finds. Also, if you'd prefer not to do a global ban on a file type, you have the option of telling NTBACKUP not to back up a specific file type within a certain location. For example, you might tell NTBACKUP not to back up any MP3 files that it finds in the Users directory or in any subdirectories.

To specify the files or file types that you don't want to back up, click the Add New button to see the Add Excluded Files dialog box, shown in Figure B. As you can see in the figure, you can either pick a file type from the list or you can enter a specific filename or custom file type (*.extension) into the Custom File Mask field. Then all you have to do is enter the path that you want the restriction to apply to and use the check box to control whether or not subdirectories should be included in the ban.

Figure B

Clearly, NTBACKUP makes it fairly easy to exclude certain files or file types. Things are not always so simple though. Some backup applications, including some of the older versions of NTBACKUP, only allow you to exclude file types that are registered on the server. The problem with this is that servers tend to be business oriented, so they may not have the file types registered that you want to exclude.

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For example, suppose you noticed that several users have their iTunes libraries stored on a server, and for whatever reason you don't want to just delete them. iTunes tracks are typically stored in the .M4P format, which is not registered by default on Windows Server 2003. Therefore, if your backup application requires a file type to be registered before you can exclude it, then you would have to register the .M4P extension on the server that is running your backup application.

The easiest way of doing this is to just install iTunes, which will then cause the file extension to be registered. But you probably don't want iTunes installed on your server, so fortunately there is another way.

To register a file extension, open My Computer and choose the Folder Options command from the Tools menu. When the Folder Options properties sheet appears, select the File Types tab and click the New button. You will now be prompted to enter a file extension. Enter the extension that you want to register, and click OK. The file type that you have entered will now be added to the list of registered file types, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

If you were planning on associating the newly registered file type with an application, you would still have some work to do. On the other hand, if you just want to make Windows aware of the file type so you can exclude it from a backup, then all you have to do is click OK. Figure D shows you that NTBACKUP now recognizes the file type that has been registered.

Figure D

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has received Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional Award four times for his work with Windows Server, IIS and Exchange Server. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and was once a network administrator for Fort Knox. You can visit his personal Web site at

This was first published in April 2008

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