How to make open file backups work

How can backup software backup open files (e.g. open Microsoft Outlook file)? Here's the clarification on how it works.

An important topic in data backup is the backup of open files. Many backup programs boast that they can back up open files, but in fact, unfortunately, this doesn't always work.

Some programs, for example Microsoft Outlook, lock their working files so that no other program can access the file while the user is working with it. As a result, the backup software has a problem because file access is denied.

On Windows, there are many files that are used from time to time and then locked. For example, if you try to back up the application data or local settings, you will find that some files cannot be backed up there. Such locked files are caused, for example, by Windows Search, which regularly scans the data on the PC in the background and creates a search index from it.

A modern backup software such as Langmeier Backup can backup most of the open and locked files if the following conditions are met:

  • The option "Also back up open files" is turned on (default).
  • The source volume is a NTFS formatted volume.
  • Langmeier Backup runs with administrator permissions. (Domain administrators may not work, in which case a local admin is required).
  • The open file must be on the same computer as Langmeier Backup.
  • The "Volume Shadow Copy" (VSS) service must be enabled. Startup type: "Manual".

Also note the following:

Status VSS service

If it doesn't work despite everything, then probably the VSS service is defective. Send a message to customer service - we can send you a program that will fix Windows' VSS service.

What is the VSS service?

For open file backup, the separate VSS (Volume Shadow Copy) service must be active on the PC. The service waits in the background and provides a so-called Windows shadow copy when requested by the data backup program. This is a copy of the last, valid state of the file.

We recommend that the data backup program uses the service already built into Windows, then computer resources are not additionally burdened by a second service that does exactly the same thing. The VSS service has been built into the Microsoft operating system since Windows XP and is enabled by default.

Close Outlook and other applications before backing up data

Some backup users prefer to play it safe and close Outlook as well as other applications before backing up data.

This tip works for Langmeier Backup Business, Server and V-flex.


In the main Langmeier Backup window, click on "Tools" and then "Edit Scripts". The script editor will open. Below the script editor, click the "New" button to create a new script. Paste the following script into the script editor:

'Exit Outlook
Set oWmi = GetObject("winmgmts:")
sSql = "select * from Win32_Process where name='outlook.exe'"
Set oResult = oWmi.Execquery(sSql)
For Each oProcess In oResult
   iRet = oProcess.Terminate(1)
Set oWmi = Nothing
'Finally, wait a bit:
Sleep 1

Now save this script by clicking on "Save As". This button is located below the script editor. Enter the desired file name, for example, "Close Outlook."

Click on the "Backup" tab at the top of the main Langmeier Backup window. Add the newly created script by clicking on the text at "Add" and then on "Script"

After confirmation, the script will appear in the backup job. You can move it to the top of the job by pressing the minus (-) key or using the right mouse button.

Restart program after backup

You can use the following script to restart the program after backup. Please adjust the program path in the second line to your program resp. to your office version:

'Restart Outlook:
Set WshShell = GetObject("WScript.Shell")
WshShell.Run"""C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office14\Outlook.exe""", 9

For more on the Windows scripting host run command, see here (in English).

Stop Windows Services

You can find instructions on how to stop Windows services in this article here.

Save data automatically

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About the Author , Founder and CEO of Langmeier Software GmbH
Urs Langmeier Urs Langmeier is founder and CEO of Langmeier Software GmbH and thus responsible for the strategic further development of Langmeier software solutions.

Further lookup: Backup Outlook, Langmeier Backup, VB-Script, Backup, Data backup

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