Does Apple show how Shadow Copy is supposed to be done?

Mike Halsey MVP
Feb 24, 2011
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Apple, Companies

Tech blogger Long Zheng has today published an article directly comparing the Previous Versions feature in Windows 7 to the Versions function in OS X Lion, the forthcoming update to Apple's desktop OS.

He describes how "Once again, Microsoft may have implemented the technology first, but Apple has turned it into a compelling end-user experience" and goes on to explain that "After OS X Lion is released in approximately a few months, it’s my guess many folds more users are going to love “Versions”. Why? Because even if they don’t need to recover a file, they’re going to enjoy the visual spectacle of traveling through time with their documents."

Now Previous Versions, or Versions in OS X Lion, is a feature that is supposed to keep copies of your files when you make changes to them.  This means that if you accidentally make a change you didn't mean to you can easily and quickly restore the file to a previous copy.

Okay, that's all well and good but he's completely missing the core point of what should be his article.  Yes, I will agree wholeheartedly that Apple are showing Microsoft how shadow copy should be done, even though the feature was available in Windows Vista and Apple are a bit late to the party.

The most important thing about Previous Versions in Windows 7 is that it simply doesn't work reliably.  In my book, Troubleshooting Windows 7 Inside Out, I talk at some length about shadow copies and previous versions and I stress that the feature simply cannot be relied upon to save previous copies of your files.

Let me explain why.  Firstly you have to have a large hard disk for the feature to work at all.  It will also only typically use about 3% of the capacity of your hard disk for files and there's no guarantee that it will use all of that space.

The most important reason why Previous Versions cannot be relied upon however is that it cannot tell the difference between an important and an unimportant file.  Every time you open a digital photo, a web link or play an MP3 the data in that file has to be updated to say when it was last opened.  This counts as a file change.

Previous Versions simply can't tell the difference between these files and the spreadsheets and databases you work on day to day.  What's more, there's no way to tell it to ignore these types of file.

This means that unless you use your PC for purely business work, most if not all of your Previous Versions stoprage space will be occupied by non-important files.  The more of these you open, the further down the priority list the files go that you actually need it to keep.  Eventually they just get pushed so far down that there's no space to store them and the next time you ask the feature to look for earlier versions of the file, there aren't any.

Microsoft has got a lot of work to do with the next version(s) of Windows to convince people that the Previous Versions feature, which lets face it has such potential, is worth having.  Let's hope they achieve this.

So Long is quite correct that Apple are once again leading the way, but they're doing it in typical Apple fashion.  Coming in late to the party, taking an idea that's already existed for ages and making it a world-beater, and I say, good on 'em for it.

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Does Apple show how Shadow Copy is supposed to be done?
Previous Versions, or Versions in OS X Lion, is a feature that is supposed to keep copies of your files when you make changes to them

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  1. The Dark Lady said on July 9, 2023 at 11:19 am

    Martin, I would appreciate that you do not censor this post, as it’s informative writing.

    Onur, there is a misleading statement “[…] GIFs are animated images …”. No, obviously you don’t seem to have take much notice of what you were told back in March regarding; Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

    For example, (if you had read my replies within that thread, you might have learnt something useful). I even mentioned, “GIF intrinsically supports animated images (GIF89a)”.

    You linked to said article, [Related: …] within this article, but have somehow failed to take onboard what support you were given by several more knowledgeable people.

    If you used AI to help write this article, it has failed miserably.

    1. E. Fromme said on September 29, 2023 at 1:32 pm

      EMRE ÇITAK posts are useless because they are fraught with inaccuracies and are irrelevant.

  2. KeZa said on August 17, 2023 at 5:58 pm

    AI is stupid, and it will not get any better if we really know how this all works. Prove me wrong..

  3. Database failure said on August 18, 2023 at 5:21 pm

    Martin, [#comment-4569908] is only meant to be in: []. Whereas it appears duplicated in several recent random low-quality non relevant articles.

    Obviously it [#comment-4569908] was posted: 9 July 2023. Long before this thread even existed… your database is falling over. Those comments are supposed to have unique ID values. It shouldn’t be possible to duplicate the post ID, if the database had referential integrity.

  4. Howard Pearce said on August 25, 2023 at 12:24 pm

    Don’t tell me!

    Ghacks wants the state to step in for STATE-MANDATED associations to save jobs!!!

    Bring in the dictatorship!!!

    And screw Rreedom of Association – too radical for Ghacks maybe

  5. Howard Allan Pearce said on September 7, 2023 at 9:13 am

    GateKeeper ?

    That’s called “appointing” businesses to do the state’s dirty work!!!!!

    But the article says itself that those appointed were not happy – implying they had not choice!!!!!!

  6. owl said on September 7, 2023 at 9:50 am

    @The Dark Lady,
    @Database failure,
    @Howard Pearce,
    @Howard Allan Pearce,

    Note: I replaced the quoted URI scheme: https:// with “>>” and posted.

    The current is owned by “Softonic International S.A.” (sold by Martin in October 2019), and due to the fate of M&A, has changed in quality.
    Many Authors of bloggers and advertisers certified by Softonic have joined the site, and the site is full of articles aimed at advertising and clickbait.
    As it stands, except for articles by Martin Brinkmann, Mike Turcotte, and Ashwin, they are low quality, unhelpful, and even vicious. It is better not to read those articles.
    How to display only articles by a specific author:
    Added line to My filters in uBlock Origin:,.home-posts,.home-category-post:not(:has-text(/Martin Brinkmann|Mike Turcotte|Ashwin/))

    By the way, if you use an RSS reader, you can track exactly where your comments are (I’m an iPad user, so I use “Feedly Classic”, but for Windows I prefer the desktop app “RSS Guard”).
    RSS Guard: Feed reader which supports RSS/ATOM/JSON and many web-based feed services.

  7. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 6:41 pm

    We all live in digital surveillance glass houses under scrutiny of evil people because of people like Musk. It’s only fair that he takes his turn.

  8. Anonymous said on September 18, 2023 at 1:31 pm

    “Operating systems will be required to let the user choose the browser, virtual assistant and search engine of their choice. Microsoft cannot force users to use Bing or Edge. Apple will have to open up its iOS operating system to allow third-party app stores, aka allow sideloading of apps. Google, on the other hand, will need to provide users with the ability to uninstall preloaded apps (bloatware) from Android devices. Online services will need to allow users to unsubscribe from their platform easily. Gatekeepers need to provide interoperability with third-parties that offer similar services.”

    Wonderful ! Let’s hope they’ll comply with that law more than they are doing with the GDPR.

  9. sean conner said on September 27, 2023 at 6:21 am

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