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Files (or folders) with long hex names

    Question

  • When I back up my computer using Retrospect (developed by Dantz, now marketed by Roxio), it copies files--or maybe directories--with names of the form {long hex}{different long hex}, where long means about 36 characters. Yes, the brackets appear to be part of the name.  One tech I asked said these files were often Windows system files but sometimes browser (IE or Firefox) generated.  Some of them are huge--a couple of gigabytes or more.  The problem is that they take a lot of time and disk space to back up, whether the backup is recycle (complete) or incremental.  So something is generating new files of this form regularly.

    I cannot find these files on my computer with the search engine in "My Computer" even if I unhide system files and use several different search terms.  I do not know whether that means the file disappears between the time of the backup and the time of the search or that the search is somehow ineffective.

    I use Retrospect because I can either restore my whole machine in the event of a major crash or restore individual files after a minor crash.  I know there are other backup strategies, like back up only user data and restore programs individually from disks or downloads, but those sometimes fail because of lost disks or licenses.  I know I can exclude the curly bracket files from my backup, but then I risk losing something important. 

    The questions are 1) what do these files do (generally but with at least a specific example)? and 2) why can't I find them with Search? and 3) is there any solution that would reduce my backup time and space requirements without compromising my ability to restore in the event of a major crash?

    If I've posted in the wrong forum, I apologize, but I don't see a more appropriate forum listed.

    Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:46 AM

All replies

  • Hi tik-tok,

    What's the location of these files? Are those files located in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local? They might be left by some updates.

    Backup the whole system and data takes a long time, I don't know how to use Retrospect, but in Windows Backup, you can choose to backup, it will take less time than backup the whole data.

    Regards,

    Miya


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    Friday, July 01, 2011 3:16 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks, Miya and Vegan.  It's plausible to me that these files are leftovers from installers, but they seem to crop up even when I have not installed anything.  Moreover, when I looked in my C: root, I saw files with names containing one set of curly brackets, not two, and their size is of the order of KB not GB.  There are also folders in the Users section with similar names, again with only one set of curly brackets and all empty of files.  And when I searched the whole C: drive for a big file that Retrospect said was backed up tonight, I could not find it even with hidden files and systems files turned on.

    Just so you will understand the source of my question, Retrospect can be set to back up the whole system once and then back up only changed or new files the next time in an "incremental" backup.  If your backup disk gets full, you can do a "recycle" backup that erases all the old backups and does a new whole system backup.  A recycle backup can take several hours if I'm doing my own computer (somewhere around 150 GB on the C: and D: drives).  It takes overnight if I'm backing up my wife's computer via the wireless network.  As the backup runs, Retrospect shows the names (but not the full paths) of the files it is backing up.  Mostly these go by so fast I can barely read them, but these monster files can stay on the screen for the better part of an hour--I had one in excess of 8 GB the other day.  I know the file size because Retrospect also displays how many GB have been completed and how many remain.  So at the end of one of these files, the numbers jump by several GB to give me an estimate of their size.  (If I back up my netbook that runs XP, these files do not seem to crop up, but they do on both Vista and W7 machines.)

    I know that if I dumped Retrospect and used the Window Backup, I could select just user files and use much less time and backup space.  I'm reluctant to do so for two reasons:  1) Retrospect allows me to back up "client" computers to a drive attached to my own computer instead of lugging the drive around, and 2) I'm worried that I will lose a disk or downloaded installation file, or the associated licenses, and won't be able to reinstall programs.  And yes, I've asked Retrospect support and received no satisfactory reply.

    There is a way of excluding all files beginning with curly brackets from my Retrospect incremental backups, but if these files are indeed important, restoring my computer after a major crash might fail.  And I don't yet know whether I can exclude only the files with two sets of curly brackets in their names.

    So I'm still looking for help regarding the nature of these files and how to find them.

    BTW, even though I checked the alert box, I got no e-mail when you guys answered.  Do the alerts appear in some other way?

    Saturday, July 02, 2011 2:59 AM
  • They are likely hidden, and don't expect Windows Search to find anything, whether hidden or not.  It's just lucky when it does.

    If you want to see hidden files:

    • Click Start then type folder options in the search box.
    • When Folder Options comes up, click it and the Folder Options dialog will open.
    • Click the View tab, then select the radio button entitled Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

    Now you should be able to see the folder names made from GUIDs.

    A GUID is a "Globally Unique ID" string.  It's made up from things that make it practically impossible for any two to ever be identical, across all the computers on the globe.

    I don't know what they're from either, nor whether they're safe to delete.

    -Noel

    Saturday, July 02, 2011 4:09 AM