Reparse point woes

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SpaceRat
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Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:07 am

Reparse point woes

Postby SpaceRat » Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:55 am

Greetings!

I'm currently evaluating SyncBackPro as a replacement for CrashPlan Home.

I found the following problem with switching over:
SyncBackPro seems to be unable to provide a moderate intermediate setting for reparse point handling.

That means:
I can either chose to skip/ignore/copy-as-is for junctions, symlinks etc., which will copy few links as-is and will ignore most.
Or I can chose to handle them as what they represent (files/folders) and backup all their content.

I'll shortly describe my setup to give a better understanding about why none of the above settings works well for me:

I have several external RAID5 enclosures with mixed data "cluttered" around them. Which data gets stored on which external enclosure depends on the free space on the enclosures. If one enclosure runs full, I redistribute data around the enclosures to get about an equal percentage of free space again on all of them.

An example:
At the beginning, the distribution might have been something like
Enclosure 1: Pictures
Enclosure 2: Videos
Enclosure 3: Music

Now we will assume that "Videos" start to exceed the size of Enclosure 2, so data was redistributed:
Enclosure 1: Pictures + Videos\Documentary
Enclosure 2: Videos\Entertainment
Enclosure 3: Music

Now assume that "Videos\Entertainment" exceeds the size of enclosure 2 again, so we get a new one and redistribute again:
Enclosure 1: Pictures + Videos\Documentary
Enclosure 2: Videos\Entertainment\TV Series
Enclosure 3: Music
Enclosure 4: Videos\Entertainment\Movies

and so on and so on, you get the idea I hope.

The important information of this part is:
It would be counter-productive to create backup sets for the enclosures as it, as their content varies over time. Data would need to be deleted or uselessly re-uploaded again and again.

In addition they are also not mounted on drive letters but into empty NTFS folders (= reparse points).
I would quickly run out of drive letters if I would mount every sh*t on one.

Now I mentioned "cluttered" above.
Actually I'm a typical orderly minded German, so in fact, the data is not really cluttered when accessing it!

I've got an internal RAID5, the volume "Data" mounted as E:

It contains real data (files/folders), but also junctions to the external enclosures, e.g.
E:\Data\Music -> Enclosure 3: Music
E:\Data\Pictures -> Enclosure 1: Pictures
E:\Data\Videos\Documentary -> Enclosure 1: Videos\Documentary
E:\Data\Videos\Movies -> Enclosure 4: Videos\Entertainment\Movies
E:\Data\Videos\TV series -> Enclosure 2: Videos\Entertainment\TV Series

When I re-distribute data across my external enclosures, I only have to adjust these "root" junctions and all data remains accessible at the very same place.

So obviously it's E:\Data which I want to back up.

That way it doesn't matter if I have to add a 5th enclosure and re-distribute data again later, for the backup of E:\Data everything stays unchanged (except that the amount of data is growing).

Now come(s) the limitation(s) of SyncBackPro:
I can either have SyncBackPro ignore junctions, so I do not get a complete backup, E:\Data\Music and so on would be missing -> No option

Or I have to back up junctions as their content, so I do get a backup of E:\Data\Music and so on too, but a lot of dupes across my backup set due to all other junctions also getting backed up as their content rather than their target!

What I would need and as far as I have recognized in other forum posts some other people too:
A setting which allows to
- follow external links
but
- store internal links as-is
at the same time.
Where external and internal refers to the backup set.

Example:
If I select "E:\Data" then the junction E:\Data\Music -> Enclosure 3: Music gets followed, because it points outside the backup set, while the junction
"E:\Data\Videos\Movies\X-Files" -> "E:\Data\Videos\TV series \X-Files\X-Files - The Movie" would get stored as-is, as the target is within the backup set (= backed up already).

That means in addition to
- Ignore most links, potentially ignoring plenty of data
- Store everything as its content, produce lots of dupes

A third setting would be appreciated:
- Follow links to additional data but avoid dupes (links to data already selected for backup)

Also, ALL junctions/links/... should be backed up, no matter if its a symlink, a junction, a hardlink or whatever, it should never be ignored.
Even if the target (Cloud Drive, SFTP, FAT32) does not support storing the reparse point as is, there's always a way to store it inside a zip, even if it's just the instructions to recreate it.

If I restored a backup of my data and it does not contain the links anymore, while not losing data itself, I would have lots of work making it all accessible again by manually reproducing the links.

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