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Keep incremental backups of edited files

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created March 9, 2005 · complexity basic · author Tim Doerfler · version 6.0


I was wondering how I could make an automatic backup of my edited files. I added the following to my vimrc:

set backupdir=c:\temp\vim_backup
let myvar = strftime("(%y%m%d)[%Hh%M]")
let myvar = "set backupext=_". myvar
execute myvar

So the command which is executed in this example sounds like this:

set backupext=_(050309)[15h15]

This creates backups into c:\temp\vim_backup\ having names like myfile_(050309)[15h15] instead of myfile~

Each time my vim starts up for editing a file, backupext gets changed so I get at least one backup per day, without overwriting backups of the day before.

If I open and close that file more often, I could theoretically have one Backup each minute. ( But who would want to have that many backups ? )

CommentsEdit

With the following mapping:

fun! InitBex()
 let myvar = strftime("(%y%m%d)[%Hh%M]")
 let myvar = "set backupext=_". myvar
 execute myvar
 echo myvar
endfun
map <Esc> :call InitBex()<CR>

You can easily refresh the backupextension time everytime you hit the <Esc> key. So you can get backups every minute, every hour, every day and so on.

see also CursorHold autocommand

If having multiple backups interests you, you may also consider script#89 savevers.vim by Ed Ralston or script#563 rcsvers.vim by Juan Frias and Roger Pilkey.


If you guys need this kind of backup, invest in version control (I recommend subversion).


You can determine how many backups you get by changing the backupext - String: If the backup - String contains minutes, you could get far too many backups ( maximum: one per minute ).

If you leave out the minutes, you get maximum one backup per hour. Leave out the hours -> one per day ...

We use version control for our standard - Software. But we do customizing, too for our customers. And all these customized functions differ from the standard. That's why I want a backup without using a CVS Tool


If you are a sysadmin and trying to fix something, I think you *do* want that many backups. The drive space is cheap when compared with the cost of unnecesary downtime. I can always send the backups to my trash directory which is already managed. For that matter, I can probably set up logrotate to compress all of the text files in the users trash directories *and* delete the old ones.


This seems to work for a backup each and every time the file has changed and it does so with a correctly dated and absolutely unique filename in the trash directory. mktemp gaurrenties uniqueness, if not my spelling. ;-) As for knowing when it was deleted, hey that's what we have file attributes for. A trash dumping utility would have to go by the file attributes anyway, right? So here we go:

set backup
" in .vimrc right after the text: "
"if has("autocmd") put this:"
augroup backups
 au!
"Note:Sorry, but this all goes on one line"
autocmd BufWritePost,FileWritePost * !diff -d <afile> <afile>~ &> /dev/null;if [[ $? == 1 ]];then touch <afile>~;mv <afile>~ `mktemp ~/Desktop/Trash/<afile>.XXXXXX`;fi
augroup END

"Note: If you see something like this, you know it is working:"

"leaves.txt" 182L, 2031C written
:!diff -d leaves.txt leaves.txt~ &> /dev/null;if [[ $? == 1 ]];then mv leaves.txt~ `mktemp ~/Desktop/Trash/leaves.txt.XXXXXX`;fi

OK, now let's discuss what it does:

#This line turns on backups:
set backup

#This line declares a new auto command group named backups.
augroup backups

#Erase any extra garbage commands that might be lying around.
 au!

autocmd BufWritePost,FileWritePost * !diff -d <afile> <afile>~ &> /dev/null;if [[ $? == 1 ]];then touch <afile>~;mv <afile>~ `mktemp ~/Desktop/Trash/<afile>.XXXXXX`;fi

# Of course, this is the end of our one-liner augroup statement.
augroup END

The above says create an new autocmd that will be executed when writing a file or buffer is finished. It will apply to files named "*". The bang (i.e. "!") identifies the command to be executed which comes next. The command itself is nothing more than a few BASH commands all on the same line. <afile> is the name of the affected file. Since we know that the name of the backup file is always "filename~", we can use <afile>~ to nail the backup file immediately after it has been written.

I could have just as easily used a bash script to take care of this. It would have been much neater to look at but not as copyable and self contained. The script would have looked like this:

#!/bin/bash
#This script is named trash.sh
diff -d $1 $2 &> /dev/null
if [[ $? == 1 ]]
 then touch <afile>~
 mv $2 `mktemp ~/Desktop/Trash/$1.XXXXXX`
fi

If I were to decide to put this script in my command path and use it, my autocmd line would have looked like this:

autocmd BufWritePost,FileWritePost * !trash.sh <afile> <afile>~

I noticed that this doesn't work for vim (gvim) 6.4 and vim 7.0.

With help from others I got it tested and working for gvim 7.0. I assume for 6.4 it also work, but didn't test it.

The chars '[' and ']' are not working in strftime apparently, and therefore I used '{' and '}'

Copy this into your _vimrc:

fun! NewInitBex()
  let &bex = '-' . strftime("(%Y%m%d)-{%H%M}")
endfun

And instead of mapping the ESC char I used:

autocmd BufWritePre * call NewInitBex()

Maybe it works if you escape the [ ] characters:

let &bex = '-' . strftime("(%Y%m%d)-\[%H%M\]")

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