Introducing Version History and Activity Log

18 Sep 2012 by Hugues Bruant

We are pleased to announce that the latest version of the AeroFS client brings two long awaited features: version history and activity log.

Version History

Before diving into the details, it is very important to understand that this feature is not meant as a substitute for version control systems or backup solutions. In particular, this feature will only provide benefits for files that are shared on multiple devices (either through a shared folder or on several of your own devices).

Every time AeroFS syncs a file from a remote peer, it saves a copy of the current local version of the file to a special location, from which it can later be restored at your convenience. This addresses the unfortunate case where someone accidentally deletes a file on their computer, causing all users who shared it to lose access to it.

Old versions are periodically cleaned to keep the disk usage on your local devices to a reasonable level. In the future we plan to give you better control over the how frequently cleaning occurs but for the time being, the following heuristic is used:

  • all versions are kept for at least 7 days
  • if the space taken by old versions exceeds an acceptable threshold, a daily cleaning is performed to shrink down to 3/4 of that threshold

Accessing your version history

You have two ways of accessing your version history:

  1. Click on the AeroFS icon in the taskbar to bring up the menu and select the "Version History..."
  2. Navigate inside your AeroFS folder with Finder (OSX) or Explorer (Windows), right click on a file or folder and select the "Version History..." entry under the "AeroFS" menu.

On the left pane you can see a view of your AeroFS folder. If an item is grayed out it means it has been deleted but some old versions are still available.

Viewing and exporting old versions

When a file is selected in the left pane, the right pane will show a table of all the versions that are saved on this device. You can see the date and time at which each version was last modified and the size of the file at that time.


You can view the content of any version by double cliking on a row in that table or alternatively by clicking on the "Open" button under the table, which will open the currently selected version. A temporary, read-only copy of the file will be opened in the default application that recognizes this type of file.

If you want to recover one of the versions, simply select it in the table and click the "Save..." button or right click on the row of interest and select the "Save..." entry in the context menu. This will bring up a dialog in which you can select the location where the exported version should be stored. In most cases, if you just want to replace an old version in place of the current version the correct location will be automatically selected.

Restoring deleted files

When a folder is selected in the left pane, the right pane will offer you the option to restore the deleted files under that folder.

Again, in most cases you'll just want to restore deleted files to their original location inside your AeroFS folder and the correct location will be automatically selected.

Please keep in mind that restoring a large number of deleted files may take some time.

Command Line Interface (CLI) support

Although the version history is primarily meant to be accessed through the graphical interface, this feature is also exposed through the command line interface.

CLI users can think of the version history as a parallel file system. They can list the content of the version tree using the newly introduced -h switch of the "ls" command:

$ aerofs-sh ls -l -h /path/of/interest
d- foo
-- bar 
-- baz

Once a file of interest is located inside the version tree, it is possible to list its versions with the newly introduced "vh" command:

$ aerofs-sh vh /path/of/interest
Version index           Size      Date
------------------------------------------------------
0_20120828_122014_136 | 1.24 KB | Aug 28 12:20 PM
0_20120828_130743_778 | 1.32 KB | Aug 28 1:07 PM
0_20120828_130756_792 | 1.33 KB | Aug 28 1:07 PM
0_20120828_130847_219 | 1.34 KB | Aug 28 1:08 PM
0_20120828_130909_447 | 1.34 KB | Aug 28 1:09 PM
0_20120830_172800_209 | 1.38 KB | Aug 30 5:28 PM
0_20120912_171229_000 | 1.34 KB | 5:12 PM

The output of this command is similar to the table of versions in the version history dialog above. The mysterious first field is a string used to identify different versions of the same file. Its format is specific to each storage backend (S3 and local storage use different ways to identify versions) and may change without notice between two versions of AeroFS.

Finally, to recover the contents of an old version, use the newly introduced "-h" switch of the export command:

$ aerofs-sh export -h 0_20120828_122014_136 path/of/interest ~/export/path

Activity Log

The activity log is a new feature meant to increase transparency and give you an accurate picture of who modified which files at what time. Every time AeroFS detects a change, whether as a result of a sync or a local modification, it now records a new entry in the activity log.

This activity log is local, which means that the content of the log will be different on all machines. For instance, when one modifies a file multiple times while being offline, the device on which the modifications are done will have several entry in the activity log. However other peers will only see a single entry for all these modifications when they next sync that file.

Viewing the Activity Log

To view the contents of the activity log, click on the AeroFS tray icon andbring your mouse over the "Recent activities" entry. This will list the most recent activities recorded on this device. Clicking on any of these items will show it in a file manager.

To get a more detailed account of activities, click on the "Show More..."entry, which will bring up the dialog below.

Each entry is associated with one or more users. If you are the user, then the name of the device on which the activity originated will also be shown. The activity entry describes which file was affected, what happened to it (creation, modification or deletion).

The time in the right column indicates when the local device became aware of the activity. For local modifications (indicated by "You on this computer") it is the time at which the modification happened but for remote modifications it is the time at which a new version was synced.

Double clicking on an entry or clicking on the "Reveal File" button will again show the relevant file inside a file manager.

Command Line Interface support

The activity log can be viewed in the command line through the newly introduced "activities" command:

$ aerofs-sh activities

This command takes two optional parameters:

-c <count>  maximum number of recent activities to display (defaults to 5)
-b          display brief activity descriptions

We hope you enjoy these new features. As always, feel free to reach out to us at support@aerofs.com if you run into any issues.

 

Cheers,

Hugues & the AeroFS team

Required Upgrade from Alpha to Beta

12 Sep 2012 by Linda Yang

In mid-June we hit a major milestone with the release of AeroFS Beta. The beta release has many improvements that we are quite proud of:
* Personal integration with Amazon S3 * Simplified Sharing and Syncing * Unlimited version history on local computers Cleaner UI across Mac/Windows/Linux * Overall improvements to the syncing speed and performance

Because of the many changes between the Alpha and Beta versions, we had to ask users to re-invite friends/colleagues to share files with them. As such, in an effort to cause as few headaches as possible, we made the upgrade from Alpha to Beta optional. Until now. It has now been three months since the release of the Beta, and as many of you have successfully made the switch from Alpha to Beta it is soon time for us to shut down the Alpha version altogether. On October 1st we will be shutting down the AeroFS Alpha cloud sync servers, as well as the registration and login servers!  After this date, sharing, cloud back up, and invitations will no longer work with the Alpha version.

Checking your Version Not sure which version you're running? To check, simply click on the AeroFS Icon in the taskbar, and click Help->About AeroFS. If you see the (beta) next to the AeroFS version in the About menu, congratulations! You're running the latest version.


Upgrading is Easy Those of you who are not running the latest version should see an 'Upgrade to AeroFS Beta' menu item in the AeroFS Menu Bar.

Linux CLI users: please run $ aerofs-sh upgrade and follow instructions If you don't see the option to upgrade to beta, or have any problems installing AeroFS beta, please send us an email at support@aerofs.com.

AeroFS/S3: Private syncing to Amazon's Cloud made easy

27 Jun 2012 by Weihan Wang

UPDATE AS OF FEB 1, 2013

AeroFS/S3 Integration is now part of our Business offering, AeroFS Team Server. It is no longer a feature in the AeroFS desktop client. If you had enabled S3 with AeroFS already on your computer, you're still good to go and this change will not affect you. This change affects new installations of AeroFS only.

Everyday we ask ourselves, what would make AeroFS more useful? One obvious answer to that question is "to let users sync AeroFS with their own Amazon S3 acounts." So we made it happen. Today we bring you AeroFS with S3 integration! Coupled with our private syncing solution, S3’s high availability and durability makes AeroFS/S3 ideal for archiving important private data. Here are some great features of AeroFS/S3 that we think you would be excited about:  

  • Data is stored encrypted on S3 using your own encryption passphrase. The encryption mechanism uses 256-bit AES in CTR mode with SHA-256 HMAC.
  • All data stored on S3 will be compressed with de-duplication enabled. AeroFS is diligent about saving you money!
  • Unlimited revision history. Old versions are kept indefinitely unless you choose to clean them up or reinstall AeroFS. Nothing but peace of mind.

To enable AeroFS/S3, simply install AeroFS on a Linux computer using the command line interface (aerofs-cli). During setup, input your S3 credentials, a bucket ID, and a encryption key when prompted. AeroFS/S3 runs in a headless non-interactive mode. That means that no ~/AeroFS folder will be created and the files will not be locally accessible on that machine. AeroFS/S3 is best used when coupled with at least one other device.

Cheers, Weihan & the AeroFS team

PS: By default, AeroFS uses SQLite databases to store metadata locally. We also support MySQL for database replication and backup. Contact us if this is what you need.

AeroFS Beta Updates

15 Jun 2012 by Yuri Sagalov

Hi Everyone,

I'd like to thank you all for your patience over the past few months while we've been busy quietly working away. Although we've tried addressing our quietness in a previous blog post, I'd like to take a moment to give you a more thorough update.

In the coming weeks we will be releasing a new version of AeroFS which is a culmination of a few months of tireless development work and provides quite a few improvements as well as important upgrades to the sharing model.

 

Simplified Sharing and Syncing

We've been working hard to simplify sharing and syncing, and we think we've done it!

As of the next release we are retiring the old "Library" model in favor of a simpler approach: In most cases, you can now share any folder or subfolder in AeroFS, not just the top folder! 

By default, all folders and files in your AeroFS will be synced between all of your devices. If you'd like to share a particular folder with someone, simply right-click on that folder and select AeroFS -> Share Folder and enter their email address (shared folders get a slightly different icon).

Sharing2

 

Unfortunately, because the new sharing model is so different from the old "Library" model, you will need to re-invite friends/colleagues to share files with you (all your shared data will remain intact). To make this process as convenient as possible, this latest update will not be applied automatically, but will be required before you can invite any new users to share files with you. 

Tt
Linux CLI users: please run "aerofs-sh upgrade" and follow instructions.

 

Other Improvements & Changes

We've made additional improvements across the board and behind the scenes:

  • The UI has been cleaned up and simplified across Mac/Windows/Linux

  • Significant improvements to the syncing algorithms should allow for faster syncing across all devices

  • "Bootstrapping" syncing is now supported within an account: If two of your machines have the same files and data, AeroFS will detect these files to avoid syncing them unnecessarily.

  • We have some other exciting features currently in the works, and we'll be sure to tell you about them as they become ready!


As always, your feedback is very important to us. Most of these changes and improvements were done as a result of feedback provided at http://support.aerofs.com. If you have other feature requests, suggestions, or other comments, please head over to http://support.aerofs.com and let us know! 

 


Happy Syncing,

Yuri & The AeroFS Team 

 

 

 

A Quick Update

18 Apr 2012 by Yuri Sagalov

Many of you have been wondering why things have been quiet on our end. I'm going to take a few moments and put some speculations to rest :)

We are still VERY actively developing AeroFS. In fact, all of our resources are currently tied up in the development of the next major release. We think you'll love it.

Unfortunately, our team is quite small (but we are hiring!) which has meant that while we've been super busy coding, we haven't had much time to respond to support requests or provide timely updates. We sincerely apologize for that, and we'll do our best to respond in a reasonable manner, but please bear with us through this period! 

In the mean time, if you have any questions/requests, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at support@aerofs.com

 

Best,

Yuri and the AeroFS Team