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I've been using SecondCopy ( on XP for a few years now to copy important files from one hard-disk to another.

One thing that bothers me is that it is unable to copy some files that are open. I assume Windows provides an API that allows an application to put an exclusive lock on an open file and backup utilities like SecondCopy just can't access them until they are closed.

As a result, since I have to close a bunch of files/applications for SecondCopy to complete successfully, I typically don't run SecondCopy regularly like I should... which pretty much beats the whole purpose of backing up data :-/

For those of you using a similar solution to back up your important file onto a second mass storage solution...

  1. Can you confirm that an open file can be set off-limit with an exclusive lock, and no backup solution will work with those?
  2. If you've tried SecondCopy and other solutions recently and you ended up using another solution, which one did you choose and why?

Thank you for any feedback.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

SYncBack SE or Pro can copy locked files, with some restrictions, which I invite you to read here:

Possible reasons why an open / locked file cannot be copied:

  • The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is not installed or working correctly. VSS is a part of Windows and not SyncBackSE/Pro. It is used to copy open / locked files. If there is a problem with VSS then the log file will contain the error messages in the log file (see the Non-critical Errors section) or other error message related to open files. See this article for details.

  • Only one profile can copy open / locked files from a particular volume at any one time. If two profiles are running at the same time then only one of them will be able to copy the open / locked files from that volume. If you are running profiles in a group then deselect the option to run them in parallel.

  • Desktop search programs like Copernicus Desktop Search (CDS), Google Desktop Search (GDS), and MSN Search Toolbar can interfere with the copying of open / locked files. You may need to close those programs to guarantee that open / locked files can be copied.

  • The open file is on a “virtual” volume, e.g. you are using a 3rd party program like DriveCrypt. Open files cannot be copied from those drives. Some software (e.g. Acronis True Image 9) can also cause VSS to stop working. There have also been reports of Symantec Antivirus Corporate Edition and Microsoft Visio causing problems with VSS.

  • ...

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I recommend syncback as well. It's extremely powerful as far as configuration goes, and you can schedule it to do backups autonomously when you are not on the computer. It will start the computer up - backup your files - and then shut the computer down again. – Fake Name Mar 14 '10 at 9:37
Thanks, I'll give SyncBack and SyncToy a try. – OverTheRainbow Apr 19 '10 at 9:50

I use SyncToy from Microsoft. I am unsure about how it behaves with locked files as I have it configured just to copy my data files and I run it at night.

You can configure multiple pairs of folders so, if you can separate between files you are still working on and those that are done or not in use at the moment (eg, Pictures, Music, ...) you can get at least those copied over and once you can close the other ones, you can copy those then.

But try running it through open files and see how it behaves.

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Second Copy 8 now supports shadow copies. On my system howerver, the ScVssService64.exe process has thousands of threads and uses almost exactly 2GB ram in private bytes.

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