PogoPlug - Work Around!

Ok so a few days ago I posted about my frustrations with my PogoPlug device and for the record I still believe this to be a problem. I did however come up with something that will work as a work around for my problem. Be advised this is not for the noob but it also isn't so complicated that only an engineer can figure it out.

Here is the basic problem. Most file backup or copy tools have some sort of mechanism to figure out what needs to be copied from source to destination. Many of these, in my experience, use file size or modified date as their key mechanism. They do this because it is easy and quick to check across a latent link - the web. The problem with PogoPlug is that they mess with the file modified date when they copy the file from source to destination and that destination is a PogoPlug appliance or share. What this means in short is that your next run will see a "change" and will need to copy the file - even if it hasn't changed, and this is a serious problem if the number of files or size of files is large.

So - that leads me to this option.  What we need to do is to use the archive bit on the file. This is essentially a marker on the file that says "hey - I am new, back me up." Now the important thing is that your backup software or copy command has to clear this when it copies it or you are still in the same place on the next pass.

Here is the plan:

Since I have all my files on the PogoPlug already I need to reset the archive bit on all the files I want to backup in my process. We will use the windows command ATTRIB to do this.

attrib -A c:\mySource\* /S

The above command looks in c:\mySource and REMOVES the archive bit on EVERY file. This may take a bit - I have about 20K files and I think it took maybe 20 mins or so.

Next we will use a friendly copy tool called ROBOCOPY to do the actual work of copying from source to destination.

robocopy "c:\mySource" "Q:\PogoPlug Folder\Pictures" /M /XO /XN /S /R:0 /XA:SH /V /XD *.cedata* *.Picasa*Temp*  /W:0 /MIR /XF *.db

The above looks a bit complicated - lets break it down.
  • The first thing we have is the call to robocopy.exe
  • Next is our source path we want to backup
  • Next is our destination which in my case is a PogoPlug appliance
  • /M tells RoboCopy to remove the archive bit from the file it copies, and it tells it to only look for files with the bit set
  • /XO tells RoboCopy to exclude files that are older
  • /XN tells RoboCopy to exclude files that are newer
  • /S tells RoboCopy to search subdirectories
  • /R:0 tells RoboCopy to retry 0 times on fail
  • /XA tells RoboCopy to exclude system and hidden files
  • /V tells RoboCopy to log this information to screen in verbose manner
  • /WD tells RoboCopy to exclude certain directories
  • /W:0 tells RoboCopy to retry after 0 seconds on fail
  • /MIR tells RoboCopy to remove files on destination that are not in source
  • /XF tells RoboCopy to exclude certain file types from the copy
IMPORTANT - In this case I understand my data and how my use of this source folder works. The use of XO and XN switches here would be a BAD IDEA if you were backing up files that changed. I am backing up family pictures that do not change. I remove some from the source - and /MIR takes care of this - but I never actually modify the local files, or if I do I dont care to keep anything but the original.

If you are using this to backup documents or changing files you need to consider how these switches are going to impact your use. In most cases I would say they are not needed because the /M switch will tell RoboCopy to only grab files that have archive bit set, and Windows will do this for you when you create or edit a file.

So there you have it - a decent work around to backing up your photos using PogoPlug appliance and some scripting. Use the RoboCopy command saved as a BAT file on your computer and schedule the task to run at 02:00 and you have a daily backup to PogoPlug.

Hope this is helpful!
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