Save multiple versions of a document as you work on it

Save revisions of a file at different stages in its life with free software Docshield

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Launch a web browser and visit the Docshield website. Click the Download link, and then click the Download Now button – it isn’t necessary to type in an email address, even though a box for one is presented.

If the File Download Security Warning dialogue box appears, click Save and then choose a location for the downloaded file.

Once downloaded, double-click the Docshield30Setup.exe file and click Run.

If prompted to install the .Net Framework, jump to Step 2. Otherwise, follow the setup prompts, clicking Close to exit when installation is complete.

Windows 8 users may be prompted to install the .Net Framework 2.0 tool, in which case click No. Instead, click Start and select All Programs, followed by Windows Update.

Click the Custom button when prompted and wait for the scan to complete. Click Software, Optional in the left-hand menu. Scroll down and select ‘Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1…’, then click the ‘Review and install updates’ link, followed by the Install Updates button.

Once the update has installed, click Close and the Docshield installation process will continue.

Double-click the Docshield icon on the Windows Desktop to launch the program, clicking Yes if prompted.

Read the notification message and click OK. Follow its advice by selecting the Options tab and clicking the plus (+) button under Archive File Destination followed by Browse.

Select a folder on the drive where you want to store the backed-up file versions; if necessary, click Make New Folder to create a folder.

Once done, click OK followed by Save. If a second backup drive or location exists, repeat the process to create a separate backup on another drive for additional protection against possible data loss.

This is the simplest thing to do is protect all documents in a specific folder.

Set this up in the Document Add-on section of the Options tab.

Tick the type of documents to protect in the Document Types box; if a specific type of file isn’t present, click the ‘+’ button, type in a description and type in the file extension, such as .jpg (for photos) or .doc (for Office documents) before clicking OK.

Next, click the minus (‘-’) button next to C:\Documents and Settings in the Folders to Monitor section to remove it from the backup – leaving it may produce an error message.

Now tick the Subfolders box, then click the ‘+’ button to choose a folder to protect.

Click Browse to select the folder, then click OK. Repeat for any other folders to be monitored.

Docshield will start backing up – switch to the Main tab to view its progress.

The initial size of the backup archive is 10MB: a progress bar at the top of the window indicates how close to this limit you are.

A warning will appear if this is exceeded: select ‘Increase archive size by’ and type in a larger figure – say 100MB for documents – and click Done.

It’s also possible to back up individual files or a group of files within a specific folder by clicking the Add Single or Add Group buttons respectively.

If selecting a group of files, tick the type of file to be protected, or click Add New Type to search for a different file type.

Next, click the ellipsis (…) button to select a folder to search, tick ‘Search subfolders’ if applicable, and click Search For Documents.

Remove unwanted documents from the list by selecting them and clicking Remove, then click Add Found Documents to Archive followed by Close to protect the rest.

Docshield checks to see if files have changed every five minutes

It will also take new backup copies if they have.

To change this frequency, return to the Options tab and change the number in the Shield Interval box – seconds, minutes or hours can be selected using the dropdown menu to the right.

To ensure Docshield is always protecting your documents, tick the ‘Start Docshield automatically when I log in’ box, so it starts with Windows.

To roll back to an earlier version of a file, switch to the Main tab. Double-click the file’s entry in the list to open a window listing all stored snapshots.

Select one and click Open to open it in its default application – for example, Word for word-processing files.

Review the file, then close the window. If the backup isn’t the correct one, review another snapshot.

Unwanted backups can be deleted from the archive to save space: select the redundant backup in question and click the Remove button followed by Yes.

Once the correct backup has been found, make sure it’s selected and click the Save as button to restore it to the hard disk.

Replace the current version with this earlier revision by double-clicking its filename in the list – click Yes when prompted to overwrite the original.

Alternatively, type in a different file name, being sure to include the file extension – for example, restoredfile.doc – and click Save.

Once the file has been restored, click Close to exit the Shielded Document Detail dialogue box and return to the main screen.

Files can be excluded from future backups by selecting them on the Main tab and clicking the Active button – the green tick next to the name will vanish, and the file will be no longer monitored (click the Active button again to resume backups for a selected file).

Existing backups are kept and can be accessed; to remove a file and all its backups completely from the archive, select the file and click Delete followed by Yes.

This deletes the file from the archive, but the file itself isn’t deleted from the hard disk.

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