File Version Management in PHP

This article is written on the basic concept of uploading and managing files. File uploading is the process of copying the file from your machine to the remote server. Other users of the same system then share this file by viewing or downloading it. While discussing this problem, various other issues arise, such as:

  • Should the program allow the user to restore this file or retain the existing file?
  • If the file exists, then should I copy the file as a new version?
  • How do I manage files, if the user uploads files of same name and type for more than once?

This article gives you a solution for all the above problems. This article is developed with the following versions:

Apache - 1.3.23

MySQL - 3.23.48

PHP - 4.1.1

Operating System: Windows Professional

When a user uploads a file for the first time, the system should upload the file in the specified folder and insert the file details like file name, size, and type in the database table. When the user uploads a file for the second time (the filename has to be the same), the system will compare the size, date and time of existing file and file being uploaded, and automatically assign a new version for the uploaded file if there is a difference. If there is no difference, then the existing file will be retained and a message will be displayed for the user.

A check box allows the user to replace the existing file. Clicking this option will replace the existing file. Note that only the latest version of the file can be replaced in this case, not the older one. The database will maintain file list and version details. User should be able to view all the versions of a file and download the required version. While displaying the file list, the program displays all the versions of file under one name. For example, if the file name is abc.doc and its other versions are abc_VERSION1.doc,abc_VERSION2.doc,abc_VERSION3.doc, and so on.  The program will display filename as abc.doc for all the versions. The program allows user to delete the file. Clicking on delete will ask for confirmation before proceeding.

The file manager program is designed to upload and manage files. The files are stored in a predefined folder. There are two files:  file_upload_manager.php and file_display_manager.php, which performs the file operations. The former handles the file uploading and the later displays the file in the folder and also lets the user to delete the file. The source code is tested on Windows systems. Linux users, please change the folder path accordingly.

Database Design

Database name: upload

CREATE TABLE file_manager (

file_id mediumint(9) NOT NULL auto_increment,

file_name varchar(50) default NULL,

file_type varchar(20) NOT NULL default '',

file_size varchar(20) NOT NULL default '',

file_modified varchar(20) NOT NULL default '',

file_parent_id mediumint(9) default NULL,

file_image_name varchar(50) default NULL,

PRIMARY KEY  (file_id),

KEY file_name (file_name),

KEY file_image_name (file_image_name)


File Upload Manager

This program displays a menu to select the file in your system, a check box, and Upload button. Once when the user clicks the upload button, the program checks the file for existence, and undergoes series of tests.

$dir_path Variable

This variable is the destination folder path.

$dir_path= "C:\\apache\\htdocs\\filemanager\\";

This path is given for a Windows based system. Please change your destination folder accordingly.

Get_New_File_Name() Function

This function is called from the main program when the program encounters file exists and difference in size, date or time. This function will generate a new file name and return to the main function.


function Get_New_File_Name($file_name)


$sqlQuery="SELECT  file_image_name

FROM file_manager

WHERE  file_name LIKE '$file_name%'

AND  file_parent_id=1";








$Last_Version = $Last_Version > $ver ? $Last_Version : $ver;



$new_file_name =$file_name."_VERSION".++$Last_Version;

return $new_file_name;


if($Last_Version !=0){


return $new_file_name;




The sql query in the beginning of the function will fetch the file names of previous versions. If the sql query returns record sets, it means the file has previous versions. The while loop is executed to store version number generated, and the value obtained is stored in $Last_Version. Otherwise the new file name will be generated as file-name_VERSION1.

Next, if statement checks for $Last_Version != 0, if true, $Last_Version is incremented by 1 and new file name is assigned. The return statement will return a new file name generated to the called statement.

File_Size() Function

This function returns the file size in terms of Bytes, Kb or Mb.


function File_Size($size)


if($size > 104876){

return $return_size=sprintf("%01.2f",$size / 104876)." Mb";

} elseif($size > 1024){

return $return_size=sprintf("%01.2f",$size / 1024)." Kb";

} else {

return $return_size=$size." Bytes";




Display_form() Function

This function is used to prompt the user to select the file from your local machine.


function display_form($errMsg){

global $dir_path;


<head><title>File Manager</title></head>

<body bgcolor="#E5E5E5">

<div align="center">

<h4>File Manager</h4>




<font face="verdana, helvetica" size="2" color="red"><?php echo $errMsg ?></font>




<form action="<?php echo $_SERVER['PHP_SELF']; ?>" enctype="multipart/form-data" method="POST">

<table border="1">


<th>File Location:</th>

<th><input type="file" name="up_file" /></th>



<th colspan="2"><br><input type="checkbox" name="replace" value="1">Replace Exiting File*</th>



<th colspan="2"><br><input type="submit" name="upload" value="Upload File !" /></th>



<br><font face="verdana, helvetica" size="1" color="#808080">* - Clicking this option will replace the existing file</font>

<br><font face="verdana, helvetica" size="1" color="#808080"><a href="file_display_manager.php">File Manager</a></font>

<br><font face="verdana, helvetica" size="2" color="#4A4A4A"><? if ($status){ echo "Result :".$status; }?></font>

<p><br><font face="verdana, helvetica" size="2" color="#808080"><b>Folder Location:</b><? echo $dir_path ?></font>

<br><font face="verdana, helvetica" size="1" color="#808080">You can change this location by editing the file</font>








Once the user selects the file and clicks upload, the main program part is executed. Here the program gets the upload file information like file size, file type, date modified and time stamp. Next, it checks for the file existence in the destination folder. If the file is present the “if” part of the program gets executed, otherwise the file is copied to the destination folder and the file information is inserted in the database. If the file exists, and if the file size and/or time stamp differs, Get_New_File_Name() function is called to generate a new file name. Then the file is copied to the destination folder and the file information is stored in the database.

If the file exists and the user had checked the “Replace Existing File” option, the file is replaced and the file information is updated in the database accordingly. Otherwise, the user is redirected to the file_display_manager.php page and the message “A previous version of this file exists” is displayed.