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Last post Author Topic: alternative to filehamster?  (Read 48514 times)

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #75 on: May 26, 2011, 04:55:18 AM »
This discussion has been very helpful to me -- I tested most of the software here and finally decided to buy File Hamster Advanced (thanks for the discount link).

A brief summary of what brought me to buy File Hamster is as follows:

Long ago I wrote a "power user backup guide" extolling the virtues of having a two-tier backup system.  The first tier is making full disk images, perhaps once a month.  And the second is for making versioned backups of your documents much more frequently, perhaps once a day.

I stand by that advice, and there are quite a few good programs for doing this on demand.  But recently I've become interested in having a versioning backup tool that works instantaneously every time a file is modified, without having to wait for me to run the backup tool manually or on schedule every X hours.

After trying every one of these tools I could find, I concluded that there is no perfect software for this.  None that I could use to backup everything automatically as soon as it was changed, that was low enough on cpu use AND versatile enough to handle everything that I might need backed up.

The main reason for this "failure" is that there are some files I need backed up regularly that are just too hard for the casual versioning backup tools to manage efficiently (my mail program database files can be 100+ megabytes large and change frequently).  There are some clever backup tools to handle these kinds of changes by storing changes at the block level, but these programs are unsatisfactory in other ways.

So anyway, I reached the conclusion that no INSTANT VERSIONING backup tool was going to serve 100% of my non-disk-imaging backup tools, and that I was still going to need a regular (maybe daily) backup tool for some files.

Once that is accepted, we arrive at a new question -- is there a fairly restricted SMALL set of files that I consider high enough priority that I want versions of them backed up instantly -- both for standard backup reasons and to have detailed version history in case i need to roll back stuff, and which can be backed up efficiently by existing solutions.

And the answer for me was a definite yes:  My written text/document/office files, and most of all my programming source code files.

And once I settled on that narrow scope of purpose, File Hamster clearly stood out to me as the best solution for instant versioning source code backup.

NOTE: At this time I can't really recommend File Hamster if you have a huge number of files you want to put under version control -- from what i can tell the program is really not designed for that kind of thing.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 08:11:10 PM by mouser »

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #76 on: May 28, 2011, 12:54:51 AM »
Just a follow up post that i am having a few frustrations with File Hamster (like silently truncating the file filter strings, huge memory use) -- so I would advise people considering it to trial it heavily to make sure it works well for you before you purchase.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 12:57:54 AM by mouser »

Armando

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #77 on: June 19, 2011, 09:49:03 PM »
Thanks for sharing that.
Do you remember why you chose File Hamster over AJC? was it because of the file format?

longrun

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #78 on: June 21, 2011, 07:16:47 PM »
You could have a look at AutoSave Essentials. I used to use AutoSave 2 but development seemed rather slow (there have been no new updates in at least 2 years to AutoSave 2) and I moved to FileHamster. Not sure what the difference is between AutoSave 2 and Essentials but it seemed to do what it said on the tin (which includes file versioning backups).

I still use and like AutoSave 2. Avanquest ruined a great program with AutoSave Essentials. With AutoSave one could create a definition that would back up exactly and only what one wanted. With Essentials, if I recall correctly, one had to create a new definition for each type of file. It was designed for people who don't know what they're doing.

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #79 on: July 06, 2011, 09:37:05 PM »
Since i wrote saying i chose FileHamster, it's only fair that I post a follow up saying that FileHamster just completely f*cked me.  It was supposed to be monitoring a set of files, and all the settings seem to show it is, but its randomly ignoring files that changed, grabbing changes sometimes.. ignoring some files revisioning others, etc.  Very unhappy.  I didn't lose any data but I've wasted a lot of time messing with FileHamster to now discover it seems completely undependable.  bad show :down:

40hz

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #80 on: July 06, 2011, 09:46:18 PM »
@mouser - I've heard that same complaint in some other places as well.

Thanks for confirming it's not just talk.  :(


tomos

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #81 on: July 07, 2011, 03:09:36 AM »
It was supposed to be monitoring a set of files, and all the settings seem to show it is, but its randomly ignoring files that changed, grabbing changes sometimes.. ignoring some files revisioning others, etc.

mouser, what filetype/app was it that had the problems? Generally support for problems is good at their forums.

With file hamster, I always get it to show notification "bubble" (default setting) - that way if there is a problem I would normally notice - it doesnt show if no backup is made.

FH had problems here with an app that saves to "temp0" first and then saves the final file (sometimes it backed it up, sometimes not). There are 'delay' settings you can change that could help, but best ask the developers.

I also had a problem lately where a "Library"/backup just didnt work at all - I find it a total PIA to check the settings (my brain doesnt function with "true" or "false"), so I ended up creating a new backup and copying my backup files over. None of which was very user friendly. Overall though, for the amount I use it (every work day, for a few years now) I'm reasonably happy with it.
Tom

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #82 on: July 07, 2011, 09:00:38 AM »
It was a php file, edited in normal text editor.  the settings were set to keep infinite revisions, and make new revisions every 5 seconds.  It seems random to me why it missed revisioning the file.  I turned off the popup messages after a week of using the program as they became too distracting.

FileHamster seems to do a pretty good job when it does its job right.. The problem is i simply cannot afford to roll the dice and have a 25% chance that the file i counted on it revisioning was simply skipped for random reasons..

tomos

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #83 on: July 07, 2011, 09:12:47 AM »
FileHamster seems to do a pretty good job when it does its job right.. The problem is i simply cannot afford to roll the dice and have a 25% chance that the file i counted on it revisioning was simply skipped for random reasons..

agreed
Tom

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #84 on: July 07, 2011, 10:16:57 AM »
This actually raises a really good idea for a feature that FileHamster could add that would be extremely useful.

A report you could generate which showed a list/table of files whose latest copies had not been revisioned.

This would be extremely helpful in diagnosing these kinds of issues, and doing a sanity check to make sure your files are being backed up.

MerleOne

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #85 on: July 17, 2011, 10:41:26 AM »
Thanks for sharing that.
Do you remember why you chose File Hamster over AJC? was it because of the file format?

BTW, I recently learned that AJC internal format is actually zip...
.merle1.

40hz

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #86 on: July 17, 2011, 01:08:00 PM »
t was a php file, edited in normal text editor.  the settings were set to keep infinite revisions, and make new revisions every 5 seconds.

I can't help wondering if that 5 second revision setting is the cause of the problem - assuming all the other files you're monitoring are imaging correctly.

I guessing, since I'm not privy to the internal details of how FH works. But if there is some internal housekeeping requirement FH needs to complete as part of its process - that 5 second window may be too tight for it to complete what it needs to do. If that's the case, you'd go into an endless loop of starting the process, not having enough time to complete it, but then hit the scheduled interval when you need to begin the process all over again.

If you bumped the interval to something like a minute does the problem still happen?

The reason I mention it is because I recently ran into something similar with a server backup script where the system didn't have enough time to "shadow & stage" the files, and calculate the backup, before it was due to start the next backup. End result was that nothing was being backed up since it was effectively being told to drop the backup it was doing and start doing another one every time it ran.

Just out if curiosity: what's so critical that it needs to be checked every 5 seconds? Are you one of the people who's responsible for the strategic nuclear launch codes or something?   ;D

 8)


tomos

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #87 on: July 17, 2011, 02:08:55 PM »
^ I missed that backup every 5 seconds first time around -
I thought the way it worked was to back up when you saved a file. I mean I know it works this way by default but maybe there are other settings...
Tom

urlwolf

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #88 on: July 17, 2011, 03:06:32 PM »
Hmm, since I started the thread :) I should report too.
Actually, since I started using wuala, I never felt the need for things such as filehamster. Wuala does this type of backup on all the folder I sync there. Nice side effect :)

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #89 on: July 17, 2011, 03:34:57 PM »
Quote
I thought the way it worked was to back up when you saved a file

yeah i think the 5 second thing isnt how frequently it's checked -- i don't think it makes much of a difference.

FileHamster just seems a bit buggy -- i've also had it crash and hang quite a bit on me. :(

fhayes

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #90 on: July 21, 2011, 09:56:53 PM »
The best freeware alternative I've found is AutoVer, I've been using it for quite a while now and it just simply works as I expected it to.
http://beanland.net.au/autover/

Features
Select any number of separate folders or folder trees (including sub folders) to watch for changes - each folder tree has its own independent settings
Select straight backup or one of two versioning modes
Select any folder, drive or FTP to backup to (including memory sticks and network drives)
Option to create an initial backup before the automatic backup starts and ensure it is current on every startup
Backups can be checked automatically, at a set time or manually
Restrict which files and folders to include and exclude (by file mask) & maximum size
Change the versioning date/time stamp format and versioning rate.
Zip or delete old versions after a specified time (or just keep storing the files)
Optionally delete backup files on original file deletion permanently or to the Recycle Bin
Fault tolerance in case your backup folder/drive goes off line or source files are locked. Drives re-sync'ed when they come online
MS Office, Visual Studio plus many others supported (temp file creation, delete then rename is treated as original file change)
Backup file & version explorer included
Open backups or file versions directly (file extensions are preserved) or via inbuilt explorer
Compare file versions (using an external application)
Restore file versions one at a time or all at once via inbuilt explorer or manually
Run a program on each file change so you can encode, resize or do anything to the file - just use AutoVer for the change detection
Runs discretely in the Windows System Tray & and can be 100% portable (AutoVer can be installed on removable media)
x86/x32 (32 bit) and x64 (64 bit) support (Windows 2000 to Windows 7+)

 AutoVer is FREEWARE. If you find this product useful, please consider making a small  donation to continue its development.

kyrathaba

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #91 on: July 23, 2011, 09:12:06 PM »
Hmm, AutoVer is reviewed by gHacks.  I might actually try this.

kyrathaba

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #92 on: July 23, 2011, 09:39:53 PM »
Tried it.  Meh...

Shades

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #93 on: July 23, 2011, 10:43:56 PM »
At the risk of repeating myself: make the jump and use a full versioning system like (open source) Git, Mercurial, SVN, CVS or (commercial) Perforce, etc.

You are doing yourself a favor, the mentioned systems do not drain resources from your PC (or brain for that matter) and provide a good base to work more structured at home. Besides it looks good on a CV when you even use such systems at home. Conceptual these systems are not that different, so changing your mindset between work and home does not require days/weeks/months of re-training either.


kyrathaba

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #94 on: July 24, 2011, 08:32:27 AM »
I normally use SVN.  Yes, I know Git and Mercurial are more sexy, but SVN is simple and adequate for my meager needs.  If I were involved in a very large project with multiple developers, I'm sure something else would be in order.

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #95 on: July 24, 2011, 11:37:31 AM »
Quote
At the risk of repeating myself: make the jump and use a full versioning system like.. You are doing yourself a favor, the mentioned systems do not drain resources from your PC (or brain for that matter) and provide a good base to work more structured at home.

I agree that coders should be familiar with versioning systems.  But I disagree that these are suitable for keeping large volumes of (source and non-source files) versioned instantly, for a couple of reasons.

Versioning software is designed to be run on command when you have some new good changes to commit.
You commit an update when you have made a bunch of changes and you are saying "here is a new state of the system".  If it goes wrong you can roll it back.

While that makes a lot of sense for software development.  But I believe there is value in a much more frequent silent backup of changed files as you are working on them.

In this scenario, one is interested in saving virtually every change to a file automatically, so that you can do an emergency rollback or comparison if it turns out you broke something at some point, combined with periodic cleaning of old backups.

I don't think version control software is well set up for this use.  Not that you couldn't use a version control system to try to simulate it, but think about what that would mean -- having version control scan a multi gigabyte drive/documentfolder for all changes, every 2 minutes and creating a new commit every 2 minutes, etc.  That's just not practical with any version control system I know of, and this kind of automatic rapid backup is key to being able to recover from unexpected problems -- you do not simply want to be able to rollback to the last manual commit you remembered to run.

So i'm not against version control systems at all (especially but not solely for muli-user systems).

I'm just saying that there is a use for a separate system that is live-monitoring for any changes to your document files, and doing an instant versioned backup of changed files, for emergency restoration/comparison features.

tranglos

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #96 on: July 24, 2011, 12:27:53 PM »

I don't think version control software is well set up for this use.  Not that you couldn't use a version control system to try to simulate it, but think about what that would mean -- having version control scan a multi gigabyte drive/documentfolder for all changes, every 2 minutes and creating a new commit every 2 minutes, etc.  That's just not practical with any version control system I know of, and this kind of automatic rapid backup is key to being able to recover from unexpected problems -- you do not simply want to be able to rollback to the last manual commit you remembered to run.

That's one good reason, here's another: I admit I've only tried SVN, but once you commit to it (pun intended), you lock yourself out of your preferred file manager. File renames, file deletes or moves must be done through SVN only. This riles me to no end, particularly at early stages of a code project, where frequent renaming and rearranging files is part of the process.

I found that I cannot live with this, especially as SVN's right-click menu is so much inferior to the ease of use I have in Total Commander... but even Windows Explorer is preferable to **that**.  

So my version control consists in manually zipping up a source code folder and naming the zip file with the date and build number. I have a personal rule that says only zip up the folder if the code compiles (known bugs are OK). Using SVN's file management is just too much of a pain.

TC can search and run a comparison on files inside zip archives, so if I do need to compare or merge, which is quite rare, I can still do it with zip files.

I can understand using version control in team scenarios, but at best it would be a necessary pain. No way would I ever voluntarily use such a cramp-inducing environment for anything else.

mouser

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #97 on: July 24, 2011, 12:32:52 PM »
Version control systems have gotten a LOT better in dealing with new and moved files/folders.. i remember learning how to handle such things in the original version control system cvs and feeling an instant need to get blackout drunk.  I don't think i ever touched cvs after that day.  But it's still a big pain, and tranglos' point is valid in terms of why version control is not ideal for some backup scenarios.

f0dder

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #98 on: July 24, 2011, 01:08:09 PM »
I can understand using version control in team scenarios, but at best it would be a necessary pain. No way would I ever voluntarily use such a cramp-inducing environment for anything else.
Unless you're doing some very wacky stuff to your source code folders, the annoyance of having to go through svn (or git or hg or bzr or ...) commandline utils or whatever GUI tools is minimal compared to the benefits you reap. Like mouser, I wouldn't recommend using it for non-development stuff, but for development stuff? It's a no-brainer, really, even when you're not working in a team.
- carpe noctem

tranglos

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Re: alternative to filehamster?
« Reply #99 on: July 24, 2011, 01:42:52 PM »
I can understand using version control in team scenarios, but at best it would be a necessary pain. No way would I ever voluntarily use such a cramp-inducing environment for anything else.
Unless you're doing some very wacky stuff to your source code folders, the annoyance of having to go through svn (or git or hg or bzr or ...) commandline utils or whatever GUI tools is minimal compared to the benefits you reap. Like mouser, I wouldn't recommend using it for non-development stuff, but for development stuff? It's a no-brainer, really, even when you're not working in a team.

I guess where we disagree is whether the inconvenience is really minimal viz. the benefits. As a single, hobby developer, I feel I'm getting very little from source control, while renaming files is something I do several times a day, esp. as I progressively get a better understanding of how my classes need to be designed and laid out.

The main area where I would like to see **some** benefits is a common situation where you have several projects all of which use the same core library - all the utility code you develop as you go and expect to use in pretty much everything you write. This is the only scenario where I have been bitten hard: working on a new project B I make changes to the library which break an older project A. And I only find out about that when I try to build project A, months or years later. It's nearly impossible in practice to match a stored state of the library with a stored state of a project. When I realized SVN wasn't helping with that at all, that was when I gave up on it entirely.

(But I've veered quite off the thread here. Obligatory OT: I'm still using FileHamster, haven't noticed it missing any files, but then I have never needed to revert, so far :) It's set to make revisions not more often than every 5 minutes. I think I'm tolerating it only because I almost never need to interact with it...)