Last modified: 2022-08-28 11:37

af - archive files

af is a simple file archiver. Every time it is run it checks which files have changed since the last archive volume was created and copies the modified files into their own directory. (I call these directories volumes.) af stores the files just as copy of the original file. Information about the standard UNIX permissions and last-modified timestamp (which is used to determine if a file did change) is stored in a text file.

This method has its limitations but it makes it very easy to get files from an archive. Even without af, it is simple to locate files manually and retrieve them with a cp command. This is important because you don't want the backup but the restore.

The main sources of documentation are the manpages

See the index page for other documents.

File operations

The documentation should answer your questions about how files are processed. Where this is not the case the following might help you.

af is written in gawk and makes heavy use of shell commands because af doesn't copy files or create directories on its own. Instead it creates and executes shell commands for it. That's good for me because I don't have to implement these functions on my own. It's also good for you because af show lists the commands that would have been run for af create.

restore-files and extract-volumes take it even one step further. They create only shell commands and you can modify options until you are satisfied and then pipe the commands to sh (or filter them before). Without that nothing will happen. See verifying operations for examples.


The current downloads are

the Debian archive.

a standalone mobile-archive tar, which needs to be installed on the mobile disk, not on a computer. It is included in the Debian archive.


I wrote af some years ago to keep different versions (backups) of source code files. I'm the only one working on my source code so I didn't need collaboration functions and I also don't wanted a complete source code control and revision system. On the other hand I like to understand how things work and feel safe that I can access backuped files without problems. That made me start working on af which also resulted in (mobile archiver).

Note: Sometimes I say that af creates a backup of your files. Of course copies on the same harddisk are not real backups and I know that. But creating "real" backups with af is also possible and usually I use a combination of both: daily backups on the same computer and a backup every few days on a network store.