Version tracking is extremely useful if you work with files that change very often. This is mostly interesting for coders and website owners but also for users who write large text files and artists that work with graphics or music for instance.
In short; File Hamster keeps backups of all old file versions so that you can keep an overview of changes, restore old file versions or find out what has changed between different file revisions.
The first thing that you have to do after installation is add at least one folder that you want File Hamster to monitor for file changes. You may choose all or selected files that you want monitored.
It adds subfolders automatically to your selection as well. The selected files will now be monitored and a backup will be created by File Hamster before write processes modify the file on the system.
File Hamster prompts for action whenever a file is edited, you may add comments to it to describe the changes for instance which can be useful as a log that helps you identify what changed in different versions of the file.
It is of course possible to access older versions at anytime in case you want to revert back to them.
You can customize the free version tracking further to suite your needs. You can for instance limit the number of revisions that the program keeps to avoid disk overload. Here you have the option to either set a maximum revision limit or define a time frame in which older revisions should be kept by the application. The default values for both settings are unlimited.
File Hamster supports plugins of which at least two are extremely useful. The first is a zip plugin which compresses the backups saving valuable disk space if you work with large uncompressed files.
The second is a Diff plugin which works very well with programs that display the differences between files. Winmerge would be a free tool that could be used for this purpose. I found this program at the great freeware genius blog.
Newer versions of Windows come with options to restore previous versions of files as well. The feature is called File History in Windows 8, but needs to be activated there before it becomes available.
Update: A free version of File Hamster is no longer available. While it is possible to download a free trial version, you will have to pay to use it for an extended period of time.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.