Instant Restores With "Previous Versions" Client

When was the last time you realized you just wrote over the wrong version of a file? Or a document became damaged and you wanted to just go back in time and use this morning's version of the file, without spending an hour or two restoring an old copy of the file from last night's backup tape? Well you can, with the Previous Versions feature built into Microsoft Windows 2003 Server and Windows Vista.

Once configured, the server will take periodic snapshots of its file system, making note of any files that changed since the last snapshot. Previous Versions tab in file propertiesThe server administrator can set it up to take multiple snapshots throughout the day, though typically one to three copies is a sufficient balance between convenience and hard drive space. The trick to accessing the backup copies is through a special program installed on each Windows XP workstation (the software is included in Windows Vista, and in Vista also works on files saved to the PC's hard drive).

The administrator can install the client software, called Previous Versions, on selected PCs, to maintain a modicum of control over who can restore files. Using the Previous Versions client is rather easy...just right click the desired file or folder! A new tab will appear, cleverly labeled Previous Versions, that lists all available old versions of the file or folder, with options to open, copy, or restore. The Open button opens the object to view the document or the contents of the folder. The Copy command copies the file or folder to another location, for comparison purposes. The Restore command simply overwrites the original file or folder (and its contents!) with the old version.

February 2008

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