Windows 7 / Getting Started

File and Folder Backup Structure

The Backup tool in Windows XP creates a single file with a .bkf extension when you perform a backup. Backups in Windows Vista and Windows 7 provide a more flexible and reliable file structure.

When a user chooses to perform a backup to an external hard disk, Windows 7 automatically creates a folder in the root of the hard disk using the computer name. Within that folder, backups are saved in this format: "Backup Set <year-month-day> <time>". For example, if your computer name is Computer, your backup location is E, and you backed up on January 22, 2007, at 16:32:00, that backup would be located in "E:\Computer\Backup Set 2007-01-22 163200".

The folder structure is created when the user first performs a backup. Automatic incremental backups that occur afterward store additional copies of changed files within subfolders. However, the name of the Backup Set folder is never updated, so the date indicated by the folder name will be older than the dates of the files contained within the folder. A new Backup Set folder is created only when the user performs a full backup.

Within each Backup Set folder, Backup creates a series of Backup Files folders that are named using the date on which the incremental backup was performed. Additionally, Backup creates a Catalogs folder within the root Backup Set folder. Backup folder structure for a computer named WIN7 that is configured to save backups to the E drive. The File And Folder backup is stored in the WIN7 folder, whereas the System Image backup is stored in the WIndowsImageBackup folder. File permissions on all folders and files are restricted to administrators, who have full control, and to the user who configured the backup, who has read-only permissions by default.

Note When restoring files, Windows 7 looks for a folder with the current computer's name in the root of the backup media. If you need to restore files created on a different Windows 7 computer, you can either rename the folder to the current computer's name or perform an Advanced Restore and select the Files From A Backup Made On A Different Computer option on the What Do You Want To Restore page of the Restore Files (Advanced) Wizard.

Within each of the backup folders is a series of compressed (.zip) files named "Backup files", where xxx is an incremental number to make each filename unique. For example, a backup folder might contain the following files:

  • Backup files
  • Backup files
  • Backup files

Note Because the .zip files used for backups are compressed and stored in fewer files, they take up less space on the backup media. Overall, backups take about half the space of the original files. Compression levels vary widely, though. Text and Extensible Markup Language (XML) files are typically compressed to less than one-tenth the original space. Backups of video, music, and picture files take up the same space as the original files because the files are already compressed.

These are standard ZIP files that you can open by using the ZIP decompression capabilities in Windows or by using other ZIP file tools. Because Windows can search .zip files, you can quickly find a backup of a specific file by searching the backup folders and then extracting that file from the compressed folder without directly accessing the Backup And Restore tool. This makes restoring files possible even if you need to use a different operating system.

The Catalogs folder contains a file named GlobalCatalog.wbcat. This file uses a proprietary format and contains an index of the individual files that have been backed up and the ZIP file within which the backup is contained, which Windows 7 uses to locate a file quickly for restoration. The Catalogs folder also contains a list of file permissions for each backed-up file. Therefore, permissions will be intact if you restore files using the Backup And Restore tool. However, if you restore a file from the compressed folder directly, the file will inherit the permissions of the parent folder rather than keeping the file permissions of the original file.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Disks and File Systems
  2. Overview of Partitioning Disks
  3. How to Choose Between MBR or GPT
  4. Converting from MBR to GPT Disks
  5. GPT Partitions
  6. Choosing Basic or Dynamic Disks
  7. Working with Volumes
  8. How to Create a Simple Volume
  9. How to Create a Spanned Volume
  10. How to Create a Striped Volume
  11. How to Resize a Volume
  12. How to Delete a Volume
  13. How to Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk
  14. File System Fragmentation
  15. Backup And Restore
  16. How File Backups Work
  17. File and Folder Backup Structure
  18. How System Image Backups Work
  19. How to Start a System Image Backup from the Command Line
  20. How to Restore a System Image Backup
  21. System Image Backup Structure
  22. Best Practices for Computer Backups
  23. How to Manage Backup Using Group Policy Settings
  24. Previous Versions and Shadow Copies
  25. How to Manage Shadow Copies
  26. How to Restore a File with Previous Versions
  27. How to Configure Previous Versions with Group Policy Settings
  28. Windows ReadyBoost
  29. BitLocker Drive Encryption
  30. How BitLocker Encrypts Data
  31. How BitLocker Protects Data
  32. TPM with External Key (Require Startup USB Key At Every Startup)
  33. TPM with PIN (Require PIN At Every Startup)
  34. TPM with PIN and External Key
  35. BitLocker To Go
  36. BitLocker Phases
  37. Requirements for Protecting the System Volume with BitLocker
  38. How to Enable the Use of BitLocker on the System Volume on Computers Without TPM
  39. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on System Volumes
  40. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on Data Volumes
  41. How to Manage BitLocker Keys on a Local Computer
  42. How to Manage BitLocker from the Command Line
  43. How to Recover Data Protected by BitLocker
  44. How to Disable or Remove BitLocker Drive Encryption
  45. How to Decommission a BitLocker Drive Permanently
  46. How to Prepare AD DS for BitLocker
  47. How to Configure a Data Recovery Agent
  48. How to Manage BitLocker with Group Policy
  49. The Costs of BitLocker
  50. Windows 7 Encrypting File System
  51. How to Export Personal Certificates
  52. How to Import Personal Certificates
  53. How to Grant Users Access to an Encrypted File
  54. Symbolic Links
  55. How to Create Symbolic Links
  56. How to Create Relative or Absolute Symbolic Links
  57. How to Create Symbolic Links to Shared Folders
  58. How to Use Hard Links
  59. Disk Quotas
  60. How to Configure Disk Quotas on a Single Computer
  61. How to Configure Disk Quotas from a Command Prompt
  62. How to Configure Disk Quotas by Using Group Policy Settings
  63. Disk Tools
  64. EFSDump
  65. SDelete
  66. Streams
  67. Sync
  68. MoveFile and PendMoves