I would like to set up an archive folder in Windows XP that would allow me to drop several different versions of the same file, and have it store each version. I would envision this to work similar to the recycle bin, where you can drop the same file 10 times and it stores each version. Anybody know how I can do this?


Edit: Using a Version Control System is complete overkill for this situation. I may just write a script that appends a date/time stamp to the file when added to the folder.

  • As for a script that appends a date/time stamp to the file when added to the folder -- does Windows have something like Folder Actions on a Mac, to assign a script to a folder? apple.com/pro/tips/folderactions.html
    – Arjan
    Feb 25, 2010 at 22:46

7 Answers 7


This batch file copy your file(s) to "_bpath" (set it as you like) and add actual date, hours, minutes and seconds to it.

@echo off
Set _bpath=T:\Temp\
if [%1]==[] goto :eof
Set _file=%~n1%
Set _ext=%~x1%
For /f "tokens=1-3 delims=1234567890 " %%a in ("%time%") Do Set "delims=%%a%%b%%c"
For /f "tokens=1-4 delims=%delims%" %%G in ("%time%") Do (
   Set _hh=%%G
   Set _min=%%H
   Set _ss=%%I
   Set _ms=%%J
copy %1 "%_bpath%%_file%(%date:/=-% %_hh%h%_min%m%_ss%s)%_ext%"
if not [%1]==[] goto loop

For convenience you could add this batch file to your "Send To" right click menu by copying it in %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo

Or if you need more advanced features, a software that imitate the mac osx time machine, like Comodo Time Machine (free) or Genie Timeline (35$), could be a good choice.

  • Beautiful - that's really close to what I need. However, I need to be able to archive entire folders too. I don't want the timestamp to be applied to every file in the folder - just the top level folder itself. Thanks!!
    – Mike Cole
    Mar 1, 2010 at 14:29
  • Using the method you provided to add commands to the Send To menu, I created a small application that does exactly what I want. Thanks a lot for your help!
    – Mike Cole
    Mar 1, 2010 at 15:22

I'd recommend using an actual version control system. Many of them have Windows clients and/or shell integration. A few examples:

  • Mercurial (with TortoiseHG)
  • Git
  • Subversion (with TortoiseSVN)
  • CVS (with TortoiseCVS)

Windows Vista and 7 have System Restore, which allows you to allocate a percentage of your hard drive for backing up old file revisions. This is probably closer to what you're looking for, but the disadvantage (aside from the fact that you're running WinXP) is that you cannot specify explicitly which files you want to be version-controlled--so you might lose some old revisions of files if you don't allocate enough of your hard drive for System Restore.


Ancient old RCS, though text only, is very light weight and is my solution to the same problem. There are more modern VCSes well suited to multi-file and multi-developer projects but for one person managing files one-at-a-time, RCS is just right.


I'll second the notion of using a version control system but would recommend bzr as one of the easier.



Personally, I use TortoiseSVN. It's not axactly the drag & drop solution you are asking for, but it is very nicely integrated with the Windows Explorer, is easy to use and very reliable. Plus it's my favorite price (free).

Tortoise menu

  • I do use Subversion/Tortoise for my development VCS. It's overkill for this specific request though.
    – Mike Cole
    Feb 25, 2010 at 22:15
  • Can it be used without a repository then?
    – Arjan
    Feb 25, 2010 at 22:27
  • I setup a repository somewhere on my local drive, like D:/svn and then check files in & out using file:///...path to files..., so yes you need a repository, but it's just a folder on your computer somewhere. Feb 26, 2010 at 4:33
  • @Mike C. - my guess is that anything you find that suppoorts the simple drag & drop you want AND is smart enough to move files out of the way in the way you want is going to end up pigging resources. But I'd love to be proven wrong. Feb 26, 2010 at 4:37

I would just create a batch file, which would archive all files of your folder to the archive with name reflecting date and time in sortable fashion (so it would be something like 2013-Oct-20.rar) and then after each work session you would have a nice archive copy of all your work.

2 possible drawbacks: 1. if your files are bigger than 100MB, archival times and disk space might be a problem 2. You cannot access files very fast, have to open archive and browse to file.


It's not XP, but Time Machine on the mac is exactly what you're looking for http://www.apple.com/macosx/what-is-macosx/time-machine.html

  • 1
    Time Machine does not save copies of each revision. And even when running every hour, recent changes might be lost sooner than you think, leaving one with the latest version and the version from a week ago, but nothing in between.
    – Arjan
    Feb 26, 2010 at 13:31

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