2BrightSparks

Versioning

Author: Swapna Naraharisetty, 2BrightSparks Pte. Ltd.

Versioning is the process of creating and managing multiple versions of a file. A version is created when a file is changed or deleted. Every new version of a file is saved so that the user can access any previous version of a file or retrieve a specific version at any time.

There are many benefits of using versioning:

  • It is an efficient way to preserve, track and control changes to a file.
  • With versioning, you can mitigate the risk of data loss. For example: if a file is changed or deleted in error, then you can easily restore from a previous version of a file.
  • Versioning is one of the best options to minimize the impact of ransomware or malware attacks. If your files are encrypted by ransomware, then you can restore data from the versions created before the ransomware attack and avoid paying the ransom.

Versioning in SyncBack

Both SyncBackPro and SyncBackSE supports versioning but is not available in SyncBackFree.

SyncBack creates a version before a file is updated or deleted and stores it within the scope of your backup. It also keeps previous versions of your backup files and allows you to easily restore files from previous versions whenever required.

You can enable Versioning under: Modify profile > Expert mode > Versioning settings page. You can enable versioning on Source (or Left), Destination (or Right) or on both Source and Destination.

Where are Versions Stored?

SyncBack stores old versions of a file in a hidden sub-directory called $SBV$. The user can choose the location to store versions ($SBV$ folder) from Versioning settings page.

If the option “In a hidden sub-folder of the folder that contains the original file” is selected, then the $SBV$ folder is created in each sub-folder of the profile’s source/destination location. If not, it is created in the base folder of your source/destination directory (if the option “In a hidden sub-folder of the base folder” is selected). Note the $SBV$ folder is only created if there are versions to store in it. It is automatically deleted by SyncBack when there are no versions.    

When deciding where to keep the versions files, consider the following:

In a hidden sub-folder of the folder that contains the original file:

Advantages

  • If two or more profiles are using the same folder to store versions, then all those profiles will share versions.
  • If you change the path of source/destination directory, then you will not lose versions.

Disadvantage

  • It is not possible to identify empty folders on source/destination as the folder may contain only versions but not actual files. Thus, when using Intelligent Synchronization, SyncBack may create an unwanted empty folder on one side if there is a folder with only versions on the opposite side.

In a hidden sub-folder of the base folder:

Advantage

  • Empty folders can be deleted without any issues because the versions are stored in a sub-folder of the base folder but not in a sub-folder of the actual folder.

Disadvantages

  • If you change the path of source/destination directory, then you will lose versions as they are stored in a sub-folder of the base folder.
  • If more than one profile is using the same folder to store versions, then they will not share the versions unless the source/destination path is the same.

How to Limit the Number of Versions Stored?

Versioning uses more storage space on your device as it keeps a history of all versions of files. However, you can minimize the storage space used by limiting the number of versions to keep with the following options:

Keep a maximum of x versions: Using this option, you can specify the maximum number of versions to keep for each file on the device. When the profile is next run, SyncBack will compare the available versions of a file with the maximum number of versions to keep, and automatically deletes any excess versions starting with the oldest version.

If the value is set to zero, then versions are never deleted based on the number of versions.

Keep versions for a maximum of x days: Using this option, you can specify how long a version of a file should be kept on the device. When the profile is next run, SyncBack will compare the versioned date & time of a version file (date & time when the version was made) with the specified number of days, and automatically deletes any excess versions starting with the oldest version.

If the value is set to zero, then versions are never deleted based on their age.

For example: Let's say you have configured the “maximum number of versions” to 5 versions and “maximum number of days” to 90 days. Assume SyncBack had created 4 versions of a file and an oldest version was created 100 days ago. When the profile is next run, SyncBack will delete that oldest version file that was created 100 days ago, because its versioned date/time stamp is older than 90 days even though the number of version files present are less than 5.

Version Filter: You can click on the ‘Version Filter’ button and specify the file types to be versioned. By default, all files will be versioned. For example, entering *.exe in the "Files NOT to version" list will not version any EXE file. Changing which files are versioned will not result in existing versions to be deleted. For example, if you set it not to version EXE files, but you already have versions of EXE files, then those versions will not be deleted due to the filter change. 

When to version: In this setting, you can define when SyncBack should make a version of a file. By default, versions of deleted and replaced files are kept. However, you may only want to keep versions of deleted files, or only keep versions of replaced files.

Using a combination of these settings, you can ensure that you will not lose versions of important files.

Important Points to Note

  • SyncBack does not create versions of unchanged files, new files copied to Source / Destination or files that were changed before enabling Versioning. Therefore, you may not see the $SBV$ folder being created immediately after enabling versioning and running a profile. The version folder is automatically created when required and deleted when there are no versions.
  • In a Backup or Mirror Right profile, the version files are normally created on Profile Right/Destination (unless you are running the profile in restore mode). This is because, the profile copies files in one direction i.e., from source to destination.
  • If you disable Versioning or change the location to store versions (for example: from “In a hidden sub-folder of the folder that contains the original file” to “In a hidden sub-folder of the base folder”) then you will lose access to existing versions (they will not be deleted by SyncBack).   
  • Versioning has a very small effect on performance. However, if you are using Fast Backup, then enabling versioning on the destination can greatly reduce the performance gains you get with Fast Backup.

Conclusion

Versioning in SyncBackPro/SE automatically saves multiple versions of files and provides an easy way to access, retrieve, and restore data from any of the previous versions of a file. It adds an extra layer of security to your backups.

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