Back up open files and databases

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The CrashPlan app backs up open files by default so that users don't have to stop working in order to protect their files. Backing up files that are constantly being written to, such as databases or virtual machines, may require more consideration than backing up files that are changed less frequently, such as documents, pictures, or other media files. This article describes best practices for backing up open files and databases.


Best practices for open files and databases

Most files that are constantly being written to require application-specific "hooks" to back up efficiently. Some examples of these types of files:

  • Virtual machines
  • SQL databases
  • Application databases

Rather than relying on application-specific hooks, we recommend backing up application "dumps" (that is, exported or copied versions) to increase the efficiency and consistency of your backups and restores from these types of files. Creating an application dump saves a snapshot of the application's internal files. Then, use the CrashPlan app to back up the dumped files.

Update backup interval for application dumps
When backing up large dump files, you may need to increase the backup interval to an hour (or more) to make sure the backup completes before the next scheduled backup starts. If you are backing up to multiple destinations, we highly recommend you make this change.

Application-specific resources

Application-specific links, and information about dumping an application state to a file for backup, are provided below for several common applications.

Non-CrashPlan products
​Information about products from other manufacturers is intended as a resource to help you get the most out of CrashPlan products. However, our technical support team cannot provide direct assistance for these products. For assistance with products not developed by CrashPlan, contact the product's manufacturer.

Access database

Act! database

Adobe Lightroom



Backing up enterprise email
In server-based email configurations (such as enterprise environments or email clients using Exchange or IMAP), backing up email stored on your device may be unnecessary if your email is also stored on the email server. Contact your email provider with questions about your email storage.

For more information, see Backing Up Microsoft Outlook Data.

SQL databases

SQL Server

Under the hood

Open file backup behavior varies on each operating system:

  • Mac - A non-exclusive read is acquired on the file while backing up.
  • Linux - A non-exclusive read is acquired on the file while backing up.
  • Windows - Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) support can allow backup of open files in Windows. This is the same service that NT Backup uses. A VSS snapshot is created and then the snapshot is read for backup. It is possible that all the files needed for a usable backup are not backed up at the same time.

External resources

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