Archive formats

We are always trying to improve. That’s why we optimize our archives from time to time. Of course, we are careful to ensure backward compatibility.

What is an archive?

Backup programs save data in so-called "archives" (also "backup", "backup" or "image"). These are files in a specific file format that can usually only be read and written by the respective backup program. These files are stored together in an archive directory, which you can select as a destination during backup. Increments or differential subsequent backups are usually stored as subdirectories in this directory. Usually an archive contains one or more index files. In addition there are the files that contain the data itself in mostly compressed state. Normally the data is not stored in a single file, which would become very large and therefore unmanageable. The data archives are divided into several files. Normally these parts have a file size of 4 GB. The reason for this size is the limitation of the FAT32 file system, which was used to format most external hard disks in the past. But even today the partitioning is still recommended, because it makes the transfer of the archive over network connections safer and faster. For recovery, the index files are selected. At Paragon, these have the file name extension .pfi – no matter which archive format is used.

PBF format

PBF format in general

Our classic archive format was the PBF format. PBF stands for "Paragon Backup Format". It refers to the index file of the archive, which has the file name extension .pbf has.

Old PBF format

Until Hard Disk Manager 10 (2009/10) the PBF files were the only index files. PFI files did not exist.

New PBF format

At the end of 2011 we optimized this format. The PBF index files still exist, but the main index file is now the .pfi file. This adjustment was made for the Hard Disk Manager 11/2011. All programs since then create this customized file format. These programs are able to restore also archives in the older PBF format without PFI file. Of course, archives created in the newer format cannot be restored with older programs.

Hint: With "Hard disk manager" are here also always backup& Recovery (also "Free"), Partition Manager and Drive Copy are meant, because they are built on the same program core. Therefore also the archives are exchangeable between these programs. Of course you have to pay attention to the version number as well. In addition, the programs can only execute functions that they are capable of. For example, a partition manager cannot restore file backups because they are not part of its functionality.

Backup only& Recovery 16 has a similar interface to FM 16, but differs so much in the program core that it is not comparable (see "Special case BR 16" below).

Virtual Container

A big change came with Hard Disk Manager 14. With this program we introduced the new "virtual container" format: pVHD = Paragon Virtual Hard Disk. This is essentially a proprietary VHD format – i.e. virtual hard disks. For backup we create a new empty virtual disk of flexible size. The selected objects (hard disk, partitions or files/directories) are copied to this hard disk file. Optionally, other hard disk file formats such as VHD or VMDK can be specified as the file format for the "virtual container" in the program settings. However, additional options such as password protection, compression or splitting are then not available. All archives in the Virtual Container format are backed up via a .pfi file managed.

pVHD archives save the program version they were created with. Sometimes minor optimizations are made to the archive format. In this case, archives in this modified format cannot be restored with Paragon programs that are older and do not know about this modification yet.: "Error code: 0x11037, The archive is not supported by this version of the software".

Hard Disk Manager 14

In Hard disk manager 14 the old PBF format is the primary archive format via the "Smart Backup" function. The "Virtual container" file format can be accessed through the "New backup format" tab.

Hard disk manager 15

In Hard Disk Manager 15 the "Virtual Container" is the default archive format. To use the old PBF backup format, please click on the tool icon in the upper right corner of the menu bar and select "Compatibility View" there.

Both the PBF format and the pVHD format have one main index file .pfi. Therefore, both in the "Compatibility View" and in the "General View" this index file can be selected during recovery. So you always have to make sure that the same view is set for the restore as for the backup, otherwise a successful restore is not possible. Of course, this also (especially) applies to working from a rescue medium, since here the"General View" is active first for each new session.

If the archive was saved as a virtual container, the wizards with the addition"(virtual container)" must be selected consistently for restoring and creating incremental backups as well as in the archive database.

If the archive has been saved as PBF archive, you have to switch consistently to the"compatibility view" for restoring and creating incremental backups. In the archive database the filter "Show archives" has to be selected.

If you use the Linux-based rescue environment, please note that the menu item"Restore Wizard" in the main menu is only suitable for restoring PBF archives. To restore"Virtual Containers" please call the first menu item (the respective program). In the extended view you will find the function"Restore Wizard (Virtual Container)&#x22 under the menu item "Program Wizards";.

Hard disk manager 16 and newer

From Hard disk manager 16 the PBF format can no longer be selected when backing up. Backups in PBF format can no longer be created with it.

However, you can restore PBF archives without any problems. Also password protected PBF archives can be recovered.

Restore PBF HDM 17 Select in the mode "Backup& Recovery" the three dots and there "Restore from PBF. Scroll to the desired archive directory. For recovery select the PBF file.

HDM 17 – "Three dots" menu does not exist The restore of PBF archives has been implemented in the HDM 17 only with the Service Pack 2 (Build number 17.10.4) reinstalled. If the menu is not available, please update your HDM 17 to the latest version. Restore PBF HDM 16/16.5 Start the Restore Wizard and select either the PFI or a PBF file. If the PFI file does not exist, it can be reconstructed from an otherwise complete and undamaged archive.

Import HDM 17 Importing ("Import backup") the PBF archives for further processing is not possible. The archive cannot be selected for import. Import HDM 16/16.5 Importing ("Add backup") of PBF archives under"Manage one-time backups" for further processing is not possible. "Error code: 0x1113b – The backup format is not supported." HDM 17 – File based PBF archives It is not possible to restore file-based PBF archives. the archive cannot be selected when executing the "Restore from PBF" function. HDM 16/16.5 – File-based PBF archives It is not possible to restore file-based PBF archives. "Error code: 0x1113b – The backup format is not supported." Extract files from PBF PBF archives can be restored only as a whole. Hard disk or partition backups can only be restored as a whole hard disk or as a whole partition – i.e. sector-based (see definition of "sector"). It is not possible to open a PBF archive to extract single files or directories from it.

Special case backup& Recovery 16

With the program Backup& Recovery 16 it is not possible to restore PBF archives. If you want to keep backups in this format and restore them if necessary, you should also keep a rescue media of an older program version.

But: With the file transfer wizard it is possible to extract files/directories from a PBF archive. To do this, scroll to the PBF archive on the left side of the source page and double-click the PFI file. Now the directory tree contained in the archive opens. Now transfer all the desired objects to the clipboard to the right and in the next step select the target for recovery.

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