Using Inclusion and Exclusion Lists in Client Backups


When to use inclusion and exclusion lists in file-level backup of protected clients to specify the data included in backups.



This article describes the use of inclusion and exclusion lists when creating a file-level backup. For Windows file-level backups, if you use selection lists that omit system state from the backup, the backup will run with a warning (yellow). If you are sure you want to omit the system state, you can resolve this warning and run green backups by checking the Exclude System State box in the backup schedule or in the selection list.

Warning: It is highly recommended that you include system state in all file-level backups where client aliases are not being used. Restoring a backup that does not include the system state is likely to result in inconsistencies on the client and cause highly undesirable results.

Note about Windows Instant Recovery: The system state is required for Windows Instant Recovery (WIR). Backups where system state has been excluded cannot be used for WIR.

Note about integrated bare metal recovery: The system state is required for integrated bare metal recovery (BMR). Backups where system state has been excluded cannot be used for integrated BMR.


When deciding what to backup for a client, you may not want to include every volume or file.  The Unitrends system provides a powerful feature known as inclusion and exclusion lists to define the volumes, directories, and files you wish to include or exclude from the backup.  While helpful, you must also take care when changing these lists so that your backup content remains consistent.

Typically, you create a backup schedule of periodic Master and Incremental or Differential backups, or use the Incremental Forever strategy to perform a single Master followed only by Incremental backups (a background process on the system will periodically create a Synthetic Master).  In most cases, you will want to include all files in the backup.  There are exceptions to this. For example, if you have multiple volumes but only want the root volume or another specific data volume backed up, or if you have a number of music files but want these excluded from the backup. Unitrends provides a powerful way of managing the files included in your backups, called selection lists.  There are two types of selection lists: inclusions, i.e., “What do I want to include in this backup?”, or exclusions, “What filenames or file patterns do I want to exclude?”.   You can define your data protection strategy through a combination of backup type, backup time and frequency, and the selection lists applied.

Selective backups are the simplest backup type, in that they back up everything that you select each time a backup runs.  This is unlike the most common use case:  a Master/Incremental backup strategy which backs up all files the first time (the Master), but only the files that changed each time the backup schedule is executed (the Incrementals), or an Incremental  Forever strategy which does one Master backup and only Incrementals “forever” after that.   Masters and Incrementals together form a backup group, meaning that as a group, these backups protect your client up to a particular point in time, the time of the most recent Incremental performed.

If neither inclusions nor exclusions are specified, a Master backup includes all client files.  To limit the scope of what is protected, you can specify the volumes to include with an inclusion list, or the volumes and files to exclude with an exclusion list, or a combination of the two.  Once these lists are applied to a backup, it is very important that your subsequent Incremental or Differential backups use the same lists so that the data across all backups in the group is consistent throughout.   When creating a schedule, the same lists are applied to all scheduled backups automatically.  When running a 1-time backup, if you specify an inclusion or exclusion list for the Master, you should always specify the same list(s) for any subsequent Incremental or Differential backups.  There are times when you do want to change the lists; to do so, make sure to run a Master backup with the new list first, and a new group will be created.

Inclusion lists are more restricted than exclusions.  For example, to exclude all jpegs on my system, I can create a wildcard of exclusions as “*.jpeg*”.  Inclusion lists must be fully defined at the volume or directory level and can include no wildcards.

For instructions on using inclusion and exclusion lists when running backups, see "Backup job procedures" in the Administrator Guide.

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