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Retrieving data on a shared server. Any experts?

(14 Posts)
YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 15:29:16

Would it be possible to retrieve an earlier version of an excel spread sheet from a shared server?

So to explain. Sheet is saved as version a by person 1, it is then altered to version b by person 2, and then changed again to version c by person 1.

Would a work system track those changes and would it be possible to see who has viewed or altered the file in its history, or even better find out what was changed?


prism Wed 01-Dec-10 15:41:35

No. The only option is that there may be regular backups and you could go back to one of them. There are such things a journaled file systems on servers but they are designed only to help in the event of a crash, saving the need to recover the entire file structure when only one bit has been corrupted. They don't really keep a record of every change there has ever been.

Excel itself has a "Track Changes" feature which does what you want, but you have to set the spreadsheet up like that in the first place, so if you're talking about something that's already out there, I'm afraid it's too late. But if not, just turn the feature on and track away.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 15:44:08

Thanks prism. I'm trying to see if there is any evidence that a co worker has altered my work you see.

I'm guessing it could simply be in her computer history, but would that track whether she had saved the file or not?

AnyFuleKno Wed 01-Dec-10 15:45:27

not possible. This is why you should password protect for modifications to your spreadsheets.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 15:52:35

It's left open for the department since we may all need access to it, but only I should be the one to modify it iyswim.

Thanks anyfule. I suspected that might be the case. So no evidence then?

AnyFuleKno Wed 01-Dec-10 16:05:46

You might be able to tell she's accessed it (if you opened excel on her PC you could see her recent documents)

A temporary copy of a document is created whilst you're working on it, but it disappears as soon as you save, so there would be no incriminating version of the file for you to look at.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 16:09:16

Thanks anyfule. I think work are pretty hot on tracking people's computers. I was just wondering how detailed this could be,

Unfortunately she would have a reason to view it so that doesn't prove anything. It's only if she actually saved over it that I would have something.

prism Wed 01-Dec-10 16:35:26

How about the modification date? Every file has one, and if it's been changed since the last time you changed it that will show up. Of course it won't show who did it but it may be a start.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 16:38:24

Unfortunately I have saved over it since (before I realised data had been altered), so it would just show my most recent changes.

NetworkGuy Wed 01-Dec-10 21:26:15

Assuming there is a backup system running, some work by backing up any file which has changed during the previous 24 hours.

So if person A updates on Monday, person B on Tuesday, person A on Wednesday, person A on Thursday, it would be possible to retrieve all 4 versions (though after retrieval, you would need to rename them to track which was Monday, Tuesday, etc.

I thought that most MS Office files can keep track of the person who modified it (or does the summary information only record the original creator and not who modified it).

Of course it depends on your IT department and you may have to explain why you need to check (potentially dropping your work colleague in it)....

The backup method would be one where a regular "full backup" is made, and between one "full backup" and the next, "incremental backups" are made, so each day only the files changed on that day are copied for backup purposes.

This would often mean that a small portion (possibly 5%) of files were stored on the incremental backup each day, where the full backup will have 100% of the files, of course.

Restoring files can be a bit longer, because one goes to the last full backup, and then for each subsequent day, restores all the files which were modified.

So you first need to talk to someone in the IT department and ask them whether files are backed up each day, such that you could check the contents of a particular spreadsheet for each day over the past week / month...

Wishing you well with your quest....

NetworkGuy Wed 01-Dec-10 21:35:01

regarding the four versions in my example, I would suggest renaming them as soon as one had been retrieved, to show <original filename>- 2010-11-30 (for the copy backed up on Tuesday and so on. when retrieved the file would return with <original filename> but of course you need to know the date it was saved. Oh, and be sure to have copied the <original filename> that is currently on the server to <original filename><date today> ...

<date today> copy would probably get saved tonight so the copy on the server has to be kept very safe, before you start retrieving anything at all !!

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Wed 01-Dec-10 21:35:42

Network guy you are a star. So it may well be possible to find out. Thank you!

NetworkGuy Wed 01-Dec-10 23:38:43

Unfortunately, may is the operative word here. I do hope there are daily backups so you can go through and compare the modifications that were made.

Also, if you are the only person allowed to modify these spreadsheets, it should be possible to share them in some way that allows read-only access for other people so they simply cannot alter anything. I know it sounds a teeny bit daft, but for example, Google Documents allows the sharing of files (eg spreadsheets) with others in a number of ways, including the case of edits being allowed, or viewing only.

I doubt you want to have these documents outside the firm, but there must be some way to provide for such 'view only' access and again your IT department may be able to set it up for you.

In the meantime, I suggest you arrange for there to be a removable external drive (various places sell 500 GB and bigger for 40 to 60 pounds) and keep a master copy of each spreadsheet on that. When you save something to the shared server, you also save to your private archive.

When you need to work on a particular spreadsheet, you load it from your archive and save it to the shared server and your archive after changes. Any changes added by someone to the copy on the shared server will disappear from it each time you write a new copy to the shared server as your external hard drive (which can be disconnected any time you leave the office and taken home/locked in a cupboard) will be holding the 'true' previous version, and if you never load from the shared server any changes made by mistake or deliberately can never reach your archive/master set.

YouKnowStuffingisforLunch Thu 02-Dec-10 06:04:48

Thanks NG. I have already decided to do just that. I am saddened that I have to, but at least this way I won't have to worry that things have been changed without my knowledge. I hadn't thought of using an external device too. I think that might be the way to go.

Just need to cover my back and stop being so naive and trusting.

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