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Write a date-stamped backup of the current file

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created 2005 · complexity basic · author Anders Thøgersen · version 5.7

I sometimes find it useful to take a backup of the file I am currently editing before continuing to edit the file. That's what this function is for.

Put this into your vimrc and press \ba while in normal mode, and the current file will be backed up.

"A mapping to make a backup of the current file.
function! WriteBackup()
  let l:fname = expand('%:p') . '__' . strftime('%Y_%m_%d_%H.%M.%S')
  silent execute 'write' l:fname
  echomsg 'Wrote' l:fname
nnoremap <Leader>ba :<C-U>call WriteBackup()<CR>

See alsoEdit

Related pluginsEdit

  • WriteBackup writes up to 26 backups (format YYYYMMDD[a-z]) with a custom :W[riteBackup] command.


  • Is it not better to escape filenames?
  • Also, I think it is better if this backup operation doesn't modify the buffers' modified flag and
  • Finally, in order to not break "openability", I prefer keeping the original extension and inserting my backup extension before that.

Which gives:

fun! WriteBackup()
        let _modified = &modified
        let fname = expand("%:p:r") . "." . strftime("%Y%m%d-%H%M") . "." . expand("%:e")
        silent exe ":w " . fnameescape(fname)
        let &modified = _modified
        echo "Wrote " . fname

Is this apt to replace the function in the main section?

How would you save an unnamed buffer? 14:50, August 2, 2012 (UTC)

--Awagner 12:25, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Another trick that I use is:

:w %33

where 33 is whatever you want, to save as foo.bar33 as a backup.

" Back up current file to date appended file name and into a specific directory c:/backup
" have also put file name last so that, saved file will open correctly in VIM (syntax etc)
fun! WriteBackup()
  let fname = strftime("%Y%m%d_%H%M%S") . "_".expand("%:t")
  silent exe ":%w c:/backup/" . fname
  echo "Wrote c:/backup/" . fname
nnoremap ,k :call WriteBackup()<CR>

Also consider script#563 to automatically keep backups in RCS.

I use 'zs' to make a temp copy of the current file in $TMP for temporary editing, this keeps the original extension.

Example: vim file.c -'zs'-> /tmp/file.c-2005-01-17_004201.c

Put this line in vimrc to define the 'zs' macro:

:map zs :exe "sav $TMP/". substitute(expand("%:t"),strftime("-%Y-%m-%d_.*"),"","").strftime("-%Y-%m-%d_%H%M%S").".".expand("%:e")<CR>

I already have this line in my _virmrc:

set bdir=c:\\temp\\editbak " location of the backups

How can I use this value as a location of these backups ?

This should do what you ask. The trailing \\ in g:bdir is required, and you have to use let instead of set to set a global variable.

let g:bdir='c:\\temp\\editbak\' " location of the backups
fun! WriteBackup()
  let fname = strftime("%Y%m%d_%H%M%S") . "_".expand("%:t")
  let path_and_file = g:bdir . fname
  silent exe ":w " . path_and_file
  echo path_and_file
nnoremap ,k :call WriteBackup()<CR>

Thanks, works great! One remark:

>>This should do what you ask. The trailing \\ in g:bdir is required,
>>and you have to use let instead of set to set a global variable.
>> let g:bdir='c:\\temp\\editbak' " location of the backups

Should be:
 let g:bdir='c:\\temp\\editbak\' " location of the backups


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