file history

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by francosj, Dec 15, 2003.

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  1. francosj

    francosj Registered Member

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    Hi there
    This is my first post here...I'm a computer novice with a few questions about file history. I am running Windows XP pro on my computer, and I want to know if there is any way to check on what folders/files have been opened and when. I don't have the "recent file" feature enabled...is there any other way to check?
     
  2. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    Do you mean files that were just opened and possibly read but not necessarily modified, such as if you suspected someone used your PC and looked at your files?

    The problem with using Windows Explorer to look at the last accessed date on a file is that I think it's own access is done prior to displaying anything, so you lose what the previous access might have been.

    If you are comfortable working at the CMD prompt in XP (this looks very much like the old MS-DOS window on older versions of Windows), you can use the commands below to display directories of folders sorted by "last access" date.

    c:\> dir/o:d/t:a

    If you place the CMD window in the top folder of a tree of folders you want to look at, such as "My Documents" and below, then you could use this extra qualifier to have it continue it's way through all the sub-folders, too.

    c:\> dir/o:d/t:a/s

    If it is a lot of folders, you can have it put all the information into a text file using this command.

    c:\> dir/o:d/t:a/s > c:\a.txt
     
  3. francosj

    francosj Registered Member

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    Hi Karma
    I tried the commands you gave me, and it gave me a list of files on my desktop (where the file in question is ). I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking at though (again, novice). It only gave me a list for files accessed today, and some of those were not files that I have actually opened this morning.
    Sorry if these are dumb questions...again, I'm not so good at this.
     
  4. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    Well, there is a potential problem here. Windows saves the "last access" date on the entry for every file on the system. The same as it saves the last modified date and the original creation date.

    The problem is that that is all it saves. It does not save a list of all accesses (by default) for a file or files. The command I gave you provides a way to look at a folder (or many folders) of files sorted by last access date. If you had many folders you think were accessed and want to see if they were, this command would be helpful.

    If you are only looking at a single file and you yourself have accessed it, even just to check it in Explorer, then you've updated the last access date.

    So rather than trying to provide general information, can you explain a little more about what you are actually trying to find out? Also, is this a one time thing, or do you want to set something up to monitor file accesses in the future?
     
  5. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    FYI - one way the DIR command above could be useful is what's shown in the image below. That shows the files in the Windows directory sorted by last access date. Notice the sequence of the dates on the left and the file names on the right. This is of some use, but only if this is the information you are after.
     

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  6. francosj

    francosj Registered Member

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    hi again
    Sorry to be vague...my friend works at a university, and she is concerned that persons in her office have opened files on some research she was doing. She wanted to know if it was possible to find out if someone had opened the files...not modified them, but just opened them. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure she has opened them herself since them, which would, as you said, erase any past record of use.
    I ran the command you gave me in the desktop directory, and the dates it gave me were almost all identical...all 12/16/03 at around 10:03am! There were no entries from previous days. The file was also a hidden file (my friend did this apparently to hide her work...I have no idea why). The first time I ran the command it couldn't even find the file, so I changed it back to a regular folder (again, opening the folder), so I guess that route's out of the question...
    I'm pretty sure my friend doesn't want to install any keystroke monitors on her computer, but any information you could give about encryption or password protection for WinXP would be appreciated!
    Thanks for the help!
     
  7. Paul Wilders

    Paul Wilders Administrator

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    francosj,

    Seems like checking this out is out of the question in the meanwhile indeed.

    As for encryption: have a look at CryptoSuite. You'll find the support forum over on this board as well.

    regards.

    paul
     
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