Computer Support Blog

How Do You Exclude Files from a System Image Backup

This post will help you exclude files and folders while performing both image-based backup and recovery. In this blog post, you can find the detailed step-by-step guides on using this feature and a useful backup software.

When you are creating a Windows backup, you may have a question: what files should be excluded from a complete Windows backup? 

Why Should You Exclude Certain Files from Backup?

What to Back up on PC:

  • System files that are best recovered from installation CD/DVD in case of loss.
  • Files containing temporary or transient data that cannot be restored in a meaningful or useful state.
  • Files that are themselves backups of data or is automatically backed up to somewhere else.
  • Files containing copyrighted material.
  • Files opened by another app.
  • Files that cannot be restored because of operating system limitations.

In general, these files do not need to be backed up. After a complete system failure, it is better to reinstall the operating system than to recover from the backup. Again, it is best to reinstall/redownload the program from the original media.

Therefore, backing up all the files is a waste of resources, so neither type is included in a desktop/laptop backup. Some other exclusion rules handle files that are difficult or even impossible to back up.

Files and Folders Excluded from Backup

These excluded documents are summarized below. Please note that this is a rough list, not exhaustive. You can obtain the latest complete list in your client software in one of two ways:

  • Command line interface: dsmc q inclexcl.
  • Graphical interface: Click Backup to open the backup window. Browse your files/folders to find local on the left hand side. Items marked with forbidden red circle will not be backed up.

Excluded Files and Folders in Windows

  • Browser caches. Temporary Internet files from: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Opera.
  • Other temporary folders. If you run programs such as Abaqus, which keeps its files in C:\temp, you should change the default directory settings of related programs to ensure that their files are backed up.
  • Backups like Windows 8.1 File History, NTBackup bkf and ARCserve ctf files.
  • Microsoft SQL Server database files.
  • BBC iPlayer downloads.
  • The Recycle Bin.
  • Virtual machines.
  • Suspected 'infected' files quarantined by Sophos.
  • Outlook cache files (*.ost).

n addition, Windows operating system files are excluded from backup for desktop/laptop backups.

These are as follows:

  • The system files in C:\WINDOWS.
  • The system files in C:\WINNT.
  • The system files in *:\Program Files
  • The system files in *:\Program Files (x86)
  • The Office install files in *:\MSOCache
  • The system files saved during an upgrade in *:\Windows.old
  • The performance log files in *:\PerfLogs
  • Cache and generated files

ASR - Automated System Recovery

These system files are excluded from the backup because they can only be restored to the same hardware (make, model, firmware, hardware, and configuration) in the event of a system failure.Microsoft does not support recovery to different hardware, as documented in their Knowledge Base.

How to Exclude Files from Backups

Take cPanel as an example.


If you want to exclude files or directories from a user backup, do one of the following:

  • Exclude the files from all users' backups.
  • Exclude the files from an individual user's backups.

The global and local exclude files apply to the account backups that you manage in WHM's Backup section (WHM > Home > Backup) and the Download a Full Website Backup feature in cPanel's Backup interface (cPanel > Home > Files > Backup).

Global Exclude File

If you want to exclude files or directories from the backups for all user accounts, you need to add those files or directories to the /etc/cpbackup-exclude.conf file. This file excludes the files associated with any location where the backup script is running.

By default, all user backups exclude the following files and directories:

  1. */.wysiwygPro_*
  2. */core.[0-9]
  3. .MirrorSearch
  4. .cpan
  5. .cpanel/caches
  6. .cpanel/datastore
  7. .cpcpan
  8. .sqmailattach
  9. access-logs
  10. public_ftp/.ftpquota

Local Exclude File

If you want to exclude files or directories from an individual user's backups, you need to add the desired paths that relative to the user's home directory to the cpbackup-exclude.conf file in the user's home directory, with one entry per line.

If the file does not exist, you need to create it. To do this, run the following command:

touch /home/username/cpbackup-exclude.conf


For example, if you want to exclude the /home/username/example/ directory and the /home/username/dir/example.php file from the username user's backups, you need to create the following /home/username/cpbackup-exclude.conf file:

  1. example/
  2. dir/example.php

How to Back up Files with MiniTool ShadowMaker

After you go through the part above, you should have an idea of what files should be excluded from a complete Windows backup and how to exclude files from backups. Now I recommend a powerful backup program - MiniTool ShadowMaker for you if you need to back up your files.

If you have a need, free download MiniTool ShadowMaker Trial now by clicking on the following button. You can use the Trial Edition for 30 days for all backup features. If you can also choose to purchase its Pro Edition to use it permanently.

Follow the guides to learn the step-by-step back up with MiniTool ShadowMaker 3.2.

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