File History and the $OF Folder on my External Drive

I've tried doing some searching online and no one seems to be able to give an answer. I enabled File History on my new computer last night backing up to an external hard drive. This morning I checked to see if it was complete and under the Data folder in the File History back up there are two folders, 'C' and '$OF'. The C folder contains the majority of backed up files...but after sifting through the $OF folder I found it contains a lot (as in thousands) of additional personal files from my machine. These files have been renamed with a sequential number and timestamp and placed into sequentially numbered folders. I spot checked the files and found that it appears the files that have been placed into $OF are not in the C folder. 

So the obvious question is why? What does the $OF folder represent? My hope is that File History is still in the process of fully backing these up and over time, they will eventually get placed into the C folder with their proper name. I plan to monitor through the day if there are any significant changes to this folder. But my bigger concern is that there was an error of sorts copying these files over and that the backup will remain in this condition...which is obviously an issue as if I needed one of these files I'd have to sift through thousands of files to find what I want. 

Does anyone have an understanding of what exactly the $OF folder is and why it exists?

 

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Last updated November 15, 2018 Views 15,546 Applies to:

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Disappointing that I can't seem to find an answer for this anywhere. All I can find is a few other people who have posed the question on various forums without anyone being able to get to the bottom of it.

Since the contents of the $OF folder have not changed all day despite multiple runnings of file history, I presume all the files that ended up there are there to stay. 

One other thought I had, since the first thing that comes to mind when I see the folder $OF is offline...I thought maybe windows has an issue with how it handles files when the external drive is offline or unavailable. So I tried creating a file when the external drive was turned off, and attempted to run File History...and I got the message that the files would be stored locally until the drive was available again. I then turned the drive on and ran File History again...seeing if the newly created file might end up in the $OF folder...but Windows did properly catch the file and get it in the right spot in the C folder.

I still think the $OF may be files where there was an issue syncing/copying to the external drive. Given that our drive is a wireless one, its certainly possible the connection was interrupted at some point during the initial sync. I may try deleting the backup on the external drive and trying running FIle History again to create the backup from scratch. If that doesn't work and no one can help me out on what's going on...I'm just going to abandon using File History as a backup agent...sounds like there's enough issues with it that its worth looking for third party software to do the job.

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That didn't even answer his question about the $OF folder, just proves how useless you and the rest of Microsoft tech support really is. Mediocre.

All I backed up was Documents, Videos, Music, and Pictures. I have no idea where this $OF folder came from. It's not on my C drive at all. Upon looking into it, it seems the File History has put some of my pics and vids there instead of where they should be in their correct library folder.

Also, the backup didn't even back up everything. There were tons of files missing from folders. I think it's because the backup adds so much to the file names that it makes them too long. It didn't even warn me that things hadn't backed up fully.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15155

Microsoft Sync Toy .. might help somebody.

File History regularly backs up versions of your files in the Documents, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop folders and the OneDrive files available offline on your PC.

If you want to backup the file stored in your download folder, you will have to copy the data that is saved on download folder  to Documents or desktop folder.Refer the following links for reference:

Set up a drive for File History

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-IN/windows-8/set-drive-file-history

Restore files or folders using File History

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-IN/windows-8/how-use-file-history

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You didn't seem to see that this was a response to my own post.

FWIW, the contents of $OF shrunk by about 1200 files and 15 folders since yesterday. I guess I'll monitor for a few more days and see if the data eventually makes it to the 'C' folder. 

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One last followup, even though I think I'm the only one following this thread. I got frustrated this morning to find out that the number of files/folders in $OF returned to what it was on Monday. 

So finally I did what I should've done in the first place, instead of looking at the files exactly as they appear on the external harddrive in File Explorer...I browsed through the files using the File History Restore Personal File option. When I did this I found all files appear properly, even those that are renamed and stored in the $OF folder of the backup. 

So at the end of the day, it's not clear what the $OF folder is or why files end up there...but the files can still be accessed and recovered easily through the File History window as opposed to going into the external drive manually.

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Hi,

Thanks for sharing the information with us.

$OF folder is created by File History. It’s one of the file history system file. This folder is like a temp folder used for smooth function of file backup on File history. For more information on File history folders you can post your query at Windows 8.1 TechNet general forum.

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/home?forum=w8itprogeneral

Thanks and regards,

John Rubdy
Forum Moderator | Microsoft Community

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I came looking for answers to the same exact question. I also use File History to back up to an external hd.  In my case, the $OF file had over 67,000 files! I didn't look in every one but many contained DNG files from my "preview" file of my photo editing software library. Thought I had solved the problem when I deleted all those files, and told FH not to back up that file any longer.  Yet now, it has created another 250+ folders. Strangely, most are empty but some contain SOME of my music files from my iTunes library.

Such odd behavior. Yesterday I had freaked when discovering that almost half of my music was missing on the BU drive. I ran FH again, and now they are all there but I still have those pesky $OF files. The songs in those files are NOT in the regular iTunes Media library folders (on the BU drive) where they should be. For example, in one album with 20 songs, 5 of them are in an $OF folder and not in the music library folder with the rest of the album. I don't get this at all. 

Another issue I have with FH - due to lack of space, I often have FH delete the older duplicate versions. It does not seem to be consistent. I still end up with several versions in many of the folders even after doing the clean up. I only want ONE version on the back up drive. Wish I could tell it to only copy NEW files, not keep making duplicates of everything. 

My last complaint, as someone else mentioned, is how many folders I have to click through on the back up drive to get to a folder. It's ridiculous. The file paths are way, way too long. 

PS I like your icon, John. 

Mar

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According to some other forum posts, $OF holds files whose pathname is too long to be stored on your backup device.  My guess is that "OF" stands for "OverFlow". 

File History tries to do a "mirror" copy of your user files and folders, preserving directory and file names.  Windows has a 255-character limit on all pathnames, though, and File History adds a longish timestamp to all filenames when it makes its copy, so if you have a file near the name length limit, Windows will have to save it to a different name when it makes the copy.  Also, if you back up to a network drive, Windows has to prepend the server and share names to each filename to build the UNC path, so the apparent length cutoff may end up being much less than 255 characters.  If you've got long directory names or deep trees, it could be that a lot of your files end up in $OF.

See:

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_8-files/file-history-appears-to-be-missing-folders/43873887-d16e-4c05-a622-c7b25003f5d2?page=2

http://superuser.com/a/701883/399577

(edit: make links clickable)

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 Hello Mr. Rubdy  (btw, I like your icon/tag also)

  May I assume that the social.technet.microsoft.forum would be a place I could go to get answers to some of my questions, as well? I'm Not a tekky by any stretch, but I would like to Try & get an answer to one of my problems which is I can't even turn ON File History, but my Husband & Son both CAN (on this same PC...!!)  So far, I haven't found a similar question/problem, so I apologize now for intruding into your posts.

We've run the HomeGroup Troubleshooter (no issues found), the App troubleshooter (fixed WindowsStore issues, which fixed windows Reader issues[!cool!], and Tried to get, use Microsoft Fix It tool, but the Download site would Not take us TO the 'download'... (it Kept taking us back to the Download 'start' screen).

  I won't bore you with the multitude of mini-problems [that all seem to be tied to the fact that MS's Windows 8.1 will Not truly support multiple accounts on a single PC...], just hoping for a little guidance in the right direction for a 'non-technically inclined' person.

...ps; 1 last quick ?, Where Else can I look for Windows/Microsoft update (KB) information besides the "Knowledge base"? I've Tried there, looking for information on KB2976978 (which showed up today as an Optional Add-On, along with KB3042085... but the Knowledge Base has NO information about either, when I'm Signed In[??]

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Yes, the $OF really stands for "OverFlow" and the folder does contain files with long path+filename! I found some pictures there, recognized where they should be and they weren't in that FileHistory -backup-folder!

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>Windows has a 255-character limit on all pathnames

That's not quite correct. Some legacy code in Windows has a limit - the so called MAX_PATH problem harking back to the very early versions of the Windows API (application interface) when memory was a much scarcer resource than it is now. MAX_PATH is a hard-coded constant and is actually 260 ASCII characters.

Most file system can handle very deep (long) paths although there is sometimes a character limit on each individual folder - certainly the ones used on anything in the last 10 years. Which is where the problem occurs. You can create very deep (long) paths that some applications can't handle because they are still using the legacy API.

Bizarrely, that most modern of application, PowerShell, which Microsoft puts a lot of effort into, is still hampered with MAX_PATH which is most perplexing considering it's a relatively modern bit of software.

I'm guessing the File History developers decided to play safe and implemented a system whereby they handle long paths in a way that covers all bases. However, as File History is only on relatively modern operating systems, the decision is a little difficult to defend.

This is a "tip of the iceberg" problem :-) Throw in spaces, Unicode and special characters and you could devote a whole career to this topic!

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