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We are pleased to announce that the latest version of the AeroFS client brings two long awaited features: version history and activity log.

Version History

Before diving into the details, it is very important to understand that this feature is not meant as a substitute for version control systems or backup solutions. In particular, this feature will only provide benefits for files that are shared on multiple devices (either through a shared folder or on several of your own devices).

Every time AeroFS syncs a file from a remote peer, it saves a copy of the current local version of the file to a special location, from which it can later be restored at your convenience. This addresses the unfortunate case where someone accidentally deletes a file on their computer, causing all users who shared it to lose access to it.

Old versions are periodically cleaned to keep the disk usage on your local devices to a reasonable level. In the future we plan to give you better control over the how frequently cleaning occurs but for the time being, the following heuristic is used:

  • all versions are kept for at least 7 days
  • if the space taken by old versions exceeds an acceptable threshold, a daily cleaning is performed to shrink down to 3/4 of that threshold

Accessing your version history

You have two ways of accessing your version history:

  1. Click on the AeroFS icon in the taskbar to bring up the menu and select the “Version History…”
  2. Navigate inside your AeroFS folder with Finder (OSX) or Explorer (Windows), right click on a file or folder and select the “Version History…” entry under the “AeroFS” menu.

On the left pane you can see a view of your AeroFS folder. If an item is grayed out it means it has been deleted but some old versions are still available.

Viewing and exporting old versions

When a file is selected in the left pane, the right pane will show a table of all the versions that are saved on this device. You can see the date and time at which each version was last modified and the size of the file at that time.

 

You can view the content of any version by double cliking on a row in that table or alternatively by clicking on the “Open” button under the table, which will open the currently selected version. A temporary, read-only copy of the file will be opened in the default application that recognizes this type of file.

If you want to recover one of the versions, simply select it in the table and click the “Save…” button or right click on the row of interest and select the “Save…” entry in the context menu. This will bring up a dialog in which you can select the location where the exported version should be stored. In most cases, if you just want to replace an old version in place of the current version the correct location will be automatically selected.

Restoring deleted files

When a folder is selected in the left pane, the right pane will offer you the option to restore the deleted files under that folder.

Again, in most cases you’ll just want to restore deleted files to their original location inside your AeroFS folder and the correct location will be automatically selected.

Please keep in mind that restoring a large number of deleted files may take some time.

Command Line Interface (CLI) support

Although the version history is primarily meant to be accessed through the graphical interface, this feature is also exposed through the command line interface.

CLI users can think of the version history as a parallel file system. They can list the content of the version tree using the newly introduced -h switch of the “ls” command:

$ aerofs-sh ls -l -h /path/of/interest
d- foo
-- bar 
-- baz

Once a file of interest is located inside the version tree, it is possible to list its versions with the newly introduced “vh” command:

$ aerofs-sh vh /path/of/interest
Version index?????????? Size????? Date
------------------------------------------------------
0_20120828_122014_136 | 1.24 KB | Aug 28 12:20 PM
0_20120828_130743_778 | 1.32 KB | Aug 28 1:07 PM
0_20120828_130756_792 | 1.33 KB | Aug 28 1:07 PM
0_20120828_130847_219 | 1.34 KB | Aug 28 1:08 PM
0_20120828_130909_447 | 1.34 KB | Aug 28 1:09 PM
0_20120830_172800_209 | 1.38 KB | Aug 30 5:28 PM
0_20120912_171229_000 | 1.34 KB | 5:12 PM

The output of this command is similar to the table of versions in the version history dialog above. The mysterious first field is a string used to identify different versions of the same file. Its format is specific to each storage backend (S3 and local storage use different ways to identify versions) and may change without notice between two versions of AeroFS.

Finally, to recover the contents of an old version, use the newly introduced “-h” switch of the export command:

$ aerofs-sh export -h 0_20120828_122014_136 path/of/interest ~/export/path

Activity Log

The activity log is a new feature meant to increase transparency and give you an accurate picture of who modified which files at what time. Every time AeroFS detects a change, whether as a result of a sync or a local modification, it now records a new entry in the activity log.

This activity log is local, which means that the content of the log will be different on all machines. For instance, when one modifies a file multiple times while being offline, the device on which the modifications are done will have several entry in the activity log. However other peers will only see a single entry for all these modifications when they next sync that file.

Viewing the Activity Log

To view the contents of the activity log, click on the AeroFS tray icon andbring your mouse over the “Recent activities” entry. This will list the most recent activities recorded on this device. Clicking on any of these items will show it in a file manager.

To get a more detailed account of activities, click on the “Show More…”entry, which will bring up the dialog below.

Each entry is associated with one or more users. If you are the user, then the name of the device on which the activity originated will also be shown. The activity entry describes which file was affected, what happened to it (creation, modification or deletion).

The time in the right column indicates when the local device became aware of the activity. For local modifications (indicated by “You on this computer”) it is the time at which the modification happened but for remote modifications it is the time at which a new version was synced.

Double clicking on an entry or clicking on the “Reveal File” button will again show the relevant file inside a file manager.

Command Line Interface support

The activity log can be viewed in the command line through the newly introduced “activities” command:

$ aerofs-sh activities

This command takes two optional parameters:

-c <count>? maximum number of recent activities to display (defaults to 5)
-b????????? display brief activity descriptions

We hope you enjoy these new features. As always, feel free to reach out to us at support@aerofs.com if you run into any issues.

Cheers,
Hugues & the AeroFS team

Check out Amium, our new collaboration product that turns any file into a real-time activity feed and conversation.

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