Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beware of Versions and Auto Save in 10.7

Gus Mueller:

You open up the PSD in Preview, make a minor edit to it such as adding a little text to it or draw a couple of red lines. The intention is to select all, copy, and go to your email app to paste it into a message. You'll just undo the changes or close it without saving later on.

In the background, when you left Preview it autosaved the file and destroyed all the layers. You even quit Preview without thinking, so you didn't get a chance to decline saving it.

Auto Save will be helpful for most users, but it’s also almost guaranteed to make me lose data one of these days. For more than 20 years I’ve been opening documents and making changes that I have no intention of saving. After working in another window or application for a while, I’ll go back, close the document, and click “Don’t Save” when it asks. Lion’s Auto Save would instead write those changes to disk without asking. Sure, the old version would be accessible (for a while), but I’d have to remember to go and revert the document. Or, I suppose, remember to do things the Lion way and duplicate the document before making changes I don’t intend to save. So far I’ve rarely remembered to do that, but I’ve been saved by the fact that the documents I was editing were stored in Git or EagleFiler, which alerted me to the changes I’d unintentionally made. I prefer the old-style Auto Save (like is available in BBEdit), where you can get back unsaved changes if there’s a crash, but it doesn’t overwrite your files unless you say so.

7 Comments

And, of course, this doesn't even get into the hell you face with Versions/AutoSave if you work directly on files stored on network volumes, as I often do.

I'm still lovin' Snowy. It's an OS for folks interested in getting work done.

[...] Beware of Versions and Auto Save in 10.7 → 59 seconds ago [...]

> Lion’s Auto Save would instead write those changes to disk without asking.

Shouldn't that be (at least partially) taken care of by the 'Locking' feature. Of course, it only kicks in for older documents.

@charles Perhaps it’s just my particular work patterns, but I find myself having to unlock documents that I do want to edit, and yet the locking never saved me from making accidental changes to other documents.

You can always revert back to your previous version, that is the whole point of thie feature. Your work is never lost. Or is there something I'm missing...

"You can always revert back to your previous version, that is the whole point of thie feature. Your work is never lost. Or is there something I'm missing..."

This is a silent destruction of data. So if you don't notice it immediately, Versions will eventually overwrite the original file. Versions isn't going to keep every version in perpetuity. And even your temporary chance of recovery is assuming you are able to figure out what went wrong when the file isn't what you were expecting.

And, of course, the networked volumes / non-HFS volume silent bug in Versions/AutoSave doesn't even have that minimal chance of recovery. In that case, the data destruction happens silently with zero chance for recovery.

Does anybody know, is there some terminal command that will disable any of the AutoSave/Versions/Reopen-preivously-open-files-on-launch behavior in Lion?

It drives me crazy and would love to just turn it off...

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