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Include or exclude files for backup

Applies to:
  • CrashPlan PROe


By default, CrashPlan backs up files in the user's home directory. This article explains how to specify what should be included and excluded from the backup file selection.

How it works

There are several ways of specifying which files and folders should be included or excluded from the backup file selection.

  • Use substitution variables
  • Specify filename patterns using wildcards
  • Specify file extensions to exclude
  • Use regular expressions

Included and excluded files
Inclusions are processed first, followed by exclusions. Files that are in both the inclusions and exclusions will be excluded, since the exclusion list is processed last.

Inclusions and exclusions can be configured at various levels of your Code42 environment.

Incorrect drive-letter capitalization may cause data loss
Drive letters are case sensitive. Adding a file path with incorrect capitalization of the drive letter removes all files from the backup file selection for devices with a different case drive letter. For example, adding a file path that starts with lowercase c (such as c:\Users) removes the backups of files whose actual path on disk starts with a capital C (such as C:\Users).

See also Real-Time Changes Not Detected Due To Case Sensitivity for details about directory-name case sensitivity.


Excluded files

Excluded and deselected files are treated differently than deleted files, so the Remove Deleted Files After setting does not apply to excluded files. As a result, the files that have been excluded are removed from the backup archive and are permanently unrecoverable.

Test, test, test

Make sure you verify your exclusions and inclusions any time you make a change. Otherwise, essential files may not be backing up, or too many nonessential files may be taking up space and bandwidth.

OS X metadata

If you find that certain system or media files are not backing up on OS X, verify that the affected files do not contain exclusion metadata. Certain metadata attributes tell applications that the file should not be backed up. It is possible to remove the exclusion metadata for a file, however, so that CrashPlan will be able to back up the file.

Trailing slash required for directories

When you want to include a directory in the included or excluded files fields of device backup settings, you must include a trailing slash ("/") in the path name. For example, C:/data/ is correct, but C:/data is incorrect. If you do not include the trailing slash, CrashPlan will treat the entered path name as a file rather than a directory. This could have the following consequences:

  • Files within the directory that you want to include in your backup will not be backed up.
  • Files within the directory that you want to exclude from your backup will not be excluded.

Console: Using substitution variables

Substitution variables offer cross-platform shortcuts to common user and system folders. Instead of identifying each user folder by name, you can use substitution variables.

Use substitution variables to specify the types of files or locations in the directory field. These variables are applied in the following situations:

When the variable is applied, then the specific device's settings replace the variable with the explicit list of the corresponding files and folders.

Case sensitivity
Substitution variables are case-sensitive. As a best practice, add separate inclusions/exclusions for each case-combination that exists on users’ devices (for example, both “My Documents” and “my documents”).
Variable Description
:main Main volume (e.g., C:\ on Windows or / on Unix or OS X)
:applications Default applications folder for the device's OS (functions on all platforms)
:user User’s home folder
:desktop User’s desktop folder
:documents User’s default document folder
:music User’s music folder
:pictures User’s pictures folder
:movies User’s movies folder
:allUsers All installed users' home folders
:allDesktops All installed users' desktop folders
:allDocuments All installed users' default document folders
:allMusic All installed users' default music folders
:allPictures All installed users' default pictures folders
:allMovies All installed users' default movie folders

Substitution variable example

User laptops at ABC Company are deployed with a directory under the user's home directory called “WorkFolder”. Users have been instructed to store their important files in WorkFolder so that this is backed up.

Some users also have certain confidential documents on their systems. These documents cannot be backed up due to compliance reasons and users are instructed to store those confidential documents in a directory called Private. In this example, we include the WorkFolder but exclude the Private folder.

Included Excluded



In the case of a specific device, Joe's MacBook Air, the result of applying the variables looks like:

Included Excluded



And on Jill's Windows PC, the end result of the same variables is:

Included Excluded

C:\Documents and Settings\Jill\WorkFolder\

C:\Documents and Settings\Jill\WorkFolder\Private\

Excluding files from backup

In the administration console, you can specify filename patterns to exclude by default for all users in an organization. Go to Organizations > ORG NAME > Action menu > Device Defaults > Backup. Enter exclusions in Filename Exclusions. You may also enter Global Exclusions or Cloud Exclusions from the General tab. Clicking in the inclusion and exclusion input fields displays additional examples and help.

The default settings for some of these exclusions are often satisfactory for most customers. You may wish to add additional inclusions and exclusions tuned to your needs.

CrashPlan app: Ignore by file extension

You can tell CrashPlan PROe to ignore files by their extension, or file type. For example, add “mp3” to the list to prevent all .mp3 files to be ignored when CrashPlan PROe identifies files for backup.

CrashPlan app and Administration console: Regular expressions

Regular expressions are a complex but very powerful way of designating files to be excluded from backup. Each expression you provide is always matched against the absolute path of the file, which requires that you take the full file path into account when you exclude files.

File paths
CrashPlan always uses / as the file separator character.

Here's an example: Consider the absolute path: /Users/Peter/Documents/examples/regex.txt. You could exclude the file with:

regex Description
.*\.txt all text files in all directories will be excluded, case-sensitive
(?i).*\.txt same as previous, case-insensitive
(?i).*/examples/.*\.txt text files in examples folder are excluded, case-insensitive
(?i)/Users/Peter/.*\.txt text files in Peter's home directory are excluded, case-insensitive
(?i)/Users/.*/examples/.*\.txt text files contained in User's home directory within an examples folder are excluded, case-insensitive

Make sure the 'Regular Expressions' checkbox is selected if you want to use regular expressions. All entries will be evaluated accordingly.

Testing your changes

We always recommend testing your file inclusion and exclusion changes prior to deploying in a production environment. To test your exclusions on a test system:

  1. Apply your exclusions by Locking or Pushing your settings changes
  2. Wait for a backup session to begin
  3. Trigger Archive Maintenance for the test system's backup archive:
    1. Go to the test system's Device detail screen
    2. Select Maintain Archive from the Archive action menu
  4. View the files in the backup archive from restore from the console or from the desktop

Updating locked settings
When updating existing, locked settings, you must unlock and relock the settings in order to apply them to existing archives. If you do not, new files will obey the new settings, but existing archives are not affected.

Following the above process in a test environment lets you see which files remain backed up before making changes in your production environment. Always verify in a test environment before making any changes.

Applying settings

In the Global and Organization Level Device Defaults, there are three ways to apply settings from the administration console: save, lock, and push.

  • Saving a setting applies it for new devices in the future. Saving settings does not affect any existing devices.
  • Push button Pushing a setting changes it on user devices, but still allows users to change the setting later.
  • Lock button Locking a setting pushes it out to user devices and also prevents users from changing the setting later.

Applies changes to future devices Applies changes to existing devices Allows users to change settings
Save Yes No Yes
Push Yes Yes Yes
Lock Yes Yes No


Click Save to save settings for new devices in the future. Saving settings does not affect any existing devices.


Click Push (to the right of the inclusion and exclusion settings) to send your settings to users without replacing the filename patterns that users have already entered, merging the user and administrative file selections.

Updating locked settings
When updating existing, locked settings, you must unlock and relock the settings in order to apply them to existing archives. If you do not, new files will obey the new settings, but existing archives are not affected.


Available in CrashPlan PROe only.

Click the Lock (to the right of the inclusion and exclusion settings) to overwrite all user-specified settings with your new settings. If the setting is already locked, toggle the lock off and back on.

Lock is the only setting that will affect existing archives, and the only way to use exclusion settings to purge files from existing backups.

Updating locked settings
When updating existing, locked settings, you must unlock and relock the settings in order to apply them to existing archives. If you do not, new files will obey the new settings, but existing archives are not affected.

Lock example

For example, an administrator has already set up CrashPlan PROe to back up users' personal folders and locks the settings. Later, she finds that some users have backed up very large files in their Movies folders. The administrator does not want movie files to be backed up, so she configures the exclusion settings to exclude them using the :movies variable (discussed in Console: Using Substitution Variables).

After configuring the exclusion settings, the administrator must unlock the exclusion settings, then relock them. This causes CrashPlan PROe to process the exclusions and remove the contents of the Movies folders from the users' backup archives.


Several examples are included here. Refer also to Excluding Files By Using File Type & Regular Expressions for even more information on regular expressions.

Example 1: Exclude files ending with .mp3


This pattern means any character (the dot) for any number of times (the star) ending with ”.mp3”. The dot in mp3 is escaped with a backslash.



Any pattern beginning with (?i) indicates a case-insensitive search so this example will match both .mp3 and .MP3.

Example 2: Exclude folders starting with IMAP


As above, any characters until a directory starting with IMAP followed by any characters. Note that CrashPlan PROe treats all file separators as forward slashes (/).

Test your regular expressions
Because these types of regular expressions are often extremely complex, it is especially important to test any regular expressions thoroughly prior to deployment in a production environment.

Global exclusions

The Global Exclusions section identifies files that you want excluded from all backups.

Cloud exclusions

The Cloud Exclusions section identifies files that you want excluded from backups to cloud destinations. However, files excluded via Cloud Exclusions are backed up to any configured local folder or computer destinations.

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