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I'm looking for windows program, which can run in background and archive all versions of all files, as they appear in specified directory. Does somebody know such a tool?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 16 '09 at 12:42

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15 Answers 15

If you don't save a file like every second, then Dropbox can do it (and will then give you a kind of revision history through its website). But only for folders in your "dropbox", not for the entire hard disk.

The features relevant to this question:

  • Automatically syncs when new files or changes are detected.
  • Work on files in your Dropbox even if you're offline. Your changes sync once your computer has an Internet connection again.
  • Every time you save a file in Dropbox, Dropbox syncs it to our secure servers. Dropbox keeps a history of every change made so that you can undo any mistakes and even undelete files. By default, we keep the last 30 days of undo history for all your files. We also have an unlimited undo option called "Pack-rat".
  • 2GB of online storage for free, with up to 100GB available to paying customers.
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In other words, you want a versioning file system. OpenVMS has provided this as a standard feature for years, but it's never really made its way into more modern OSes. Wikipedia provides more information and links to the following tools for Windows:

  • Shadow Copy - is a feature introduced by Microsoft with Windows Server 2003, that allows taking manual or automatic backup copies or snapshots of a file or folder on a specific volume at a specific point in time.
  • Rollback Rx - Allows snapshots of disk partitions to be taken. Each snapshot contains only the differences between previous snapshots, and take only seconds to create. Can be reliably used to keep a Windows OS stable and/or protected from malware.
  • GoBack - The GoBack software for Windows from Symantec enables reversion of files, directories or disks to previous states. It can record a maximum of 8GB in changes, and temporarily stops recording each change in the event of high I/O activity.
  • Shadow Copy works quite well, but it's time-based rather than versioning each change. I have no experience with the other two.

    Linux has a few more options for versioning filesystems, so an alternative, more labor-intensive approach would be to set up a Linux fileserver with one of these filesystems.

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    For automatic unobstrusive versioning, you could use RSync coupled with the equivalent to a cron job in Windows.

    You could also use SVN, but it would be more obstrusive, and it might be bad to store many binary files in it.


    One caveat: This are not simple point and click tools.

    You can modify them to suit your needs, almost any need, but other, commercial, applications might be better suited if your needs are solved by the application and don't want to be fiddling with scripts and what not.

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    Do Volume Shadow Copies work on local drives? That would be built-in.

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    Carlos mentioned Oops! Backup from Altaro. I work for Altaro Software (my full disclosure :) )

    To answer Johan's question. With Oops! Backup you can configure folder/s to track and it will automatically detect when there are changes and backup the files when changed. By default the frequency is every hour but it's configurable every 5 mins. It also has the option to use VSS and our own incremental technology for space efficiency called ReverseDelta.

    Apart from being a backup product Oops! Backup is also a lightweight and easy to use version control.

    What ReverseDelta does is that it always keeps the most recent version in your backup as the entire one as opposed to other incremental technologies were the full file (on which to compute incrementals) is the oldest one. With Oops! Backup the most recent file is always available in its entirety. An obvious advantage of this is that if something happens and some portion of your backup corrupts then you know that you always have the most recent backup. In typical increments if some increment corrupts than you lose everything as all the incrementals are needed to restore the file.

    Check out screenshots at http://www.altaro.com/screenshots.php

    Anyway :) Oops! Backup is in Alpha stage right now and should be out in BETA in 2/3 weeks time. Johan - if you are interested in checking it out email me and if you join the BETA program I will send you a free license key.

    David Vella - david@altaro.com

    P.S. sorry for the long post

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    Actually, Genie Timeline automatically scans the machine and detects any changes in files to include them in backup.. it works in real time as it scans the system and adds any changed files to backup.. it bask up files that are open as well.

    it keeps multiple versions of your files so that if you ever need to go back and recover an old file, you can choose to restore any version of that file...

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    pretty much any backup/sync software will do that for you. schedule incremental backups of your hard drive(s) and use filters and wildcards (e.g. *.doc will only copy newly created/modified word documents)

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    I known of 3 of them, but I haven't tested any, since I work with a different OS ;)

    http://www.trackmyfiles.com/en/home/ http://www.altaro.com/ http://www.genie-soft.com/products/genie%5Ftimeline/default.html

    You can also look for "windows time machine" in google.

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    Genie Timeline by default runs backups every 30 minutes. That will not give the kind of revision history that I think the question asker wants. (I don't know the other programs.) –  Arjan Sep 16 '09 at 12:52

    When I first heard of Time Machine on Mac OS X, I thought it was basically a SVN repository containing the whole hard disk managed as a big working copy with a daemon performing a svn commit every hour.

    I don't know if this kind of strategy exists on Windows nor if it is viable.

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    See Idlebackup, described in great length in this article : Use Your Idle Time To Backup Your Data.

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    You can try to image the machine, but that would include the os and all installed programs on it as well.

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    I've had good luck with FileHamster. Basically, you set it up to watch a folder and it archives files each time they are updated or changed.

    The basic version used to be free but it recently has changed to paid for all their versions.

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    I created a tool that does this called FolderTrack. It is document revision software. It is free you visitors to this page. Use code BOS to register it for free:

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    You could take a look at a DPM (Data Protection Manager) or a "Home Server" to achieve those requirements. (Well.. Not the Versions one, but they will keep several versions available)

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    If you are looking at something that can restore files from any point in time; then you may want to look closer at Rollback Rx. It allows you to restore to any snapshot in seconds while recovering any files from any previous snapshot. RollBack Rx is like a time machine for you PC.

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    1  
    Interesting solution but the answer is phrased like an ad. Are there any other products to do this? –  Lizz Jan 11 '13 at 7:46

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