Source code control tools are important for anyone working on projects with files stored on computers, especially software developers. They help you to have a record of every version of every file in your project, and make those files available to multiple developers working in a distributed environment. Many people have excuses for not using source code control tools, but with so many great and free tools available, these excuses are simply unfounded in reality.
Here is a short list of the top 5 bad excuses for not using source code control (and the reality behind why these excuses shouldn’t be holding you back):
1) I’m just one person, so I don’t need source code control.
Reality: Single developers make mistakes all the time. And, they can easily benefit from being able to restore from any revision of their sources and to see a descriptive log of changes. Also, source control tools make development on more than one computer easy (consider your office computer, laptop, and those few lab computers).
2) Source code control tools are expensive and I can’t afford them.
Reality: There are great free tools. For example, subversion (and the TortoiseSVN client), CVS (and the TortoiseCVS client) are free. Also, Perforce, a commercial product, has a free version that limits the number of user accounts.
3) I don’t have a server computer or any IT support (or desire to have them support me).
Reality: With TortoiseSVN (and others) you can create a “local repository” on your hard drive, so you don’t even need a server. Give it a try — it’s easy.
4) I already have a simple folder backup/archiving scheme in place.
Reality: Once you start using a version control tool you will realize that it basically does exactly what your folder archiving scheme does, but also does a lot more and a better job of it. Your folder backup scheme is prone to human error. And, trying to figure out differences between versions is pretty complicated, too. Also, how do you backup your folder backups/archive? With a source code control system you have a single central repository that can be backed up. (Note: if you are committed to using a folder backup scheme you should definitely take a look at Beyond Compare for comparing folders and files.)
5) I don’t understand the concepts of source code control.
Reality: Learning these concepts is important. You’re already doing these activities, you just don’t realize it and your probably not doing a great job at it. If you’d like to learn more about the concepts of source code control, then you should definitely read Eric Sink’s Source Control HOWTO.
Also, TortoiseSVN is easy to use — it integrates directly into Windows Explorer. You simply right-click on your files/folders to perform operations. And, your files/folders icons change to reflect their state in the source code control system (modified, not under version control, etc.).