Comparing Data Files and Finding Changes over Time

Comparing lengthy data files is useful for a variety of purposes – whether you need to identify changes in customer or employee lists over time, check for discrepancies between accounts, or compare network logs to look for changes in security access. Arbutus Analyzer allows users to compare lengthy data files in under a minute. This feature is useful when you have two files with an identical structure (for example, identically named and ordered columns), but differing time periods (for example, a file denoting customer contact lists in 2015, and a second file denoting customer contact lists from 2016).

1. Open both files in Arbutus Analyzer in the same project

2. In your view, select the most recent table

3. Click Data – Compare

4. Select the file you wish to compare and select the fields you wish to accumulate

5. Select the output type (Data or Screen). Data will produce the results in a new table that can be further manipulated Screen will send your results directly to the Command Log

6. Name the output table if you have selected the Data output option

7. Click OK

Analyzer will return any unmatched data entries between the two files.

In the following example I want to look for changes in customer address lists over time. Opening both the November and December 2012 customer address lists in Arbutus Analyzer and following the steps above, I selected the output to Data to generate a new table with the comparison.

Notice the “Type” column Analyzer has generated on the left hand side. Type F and T stand for “From” and “To,” indicating the chronological direction of change.

Type A stands for “Added” – in the later time stamped list only. Type D stands for “Deleted” – a data entry only present in the earlier time-stamped list and not in the later list.

From this example, I can see that between November and December 2012, the first entry representing Karl Jablonski changed from having the address 305-14th Ave. S. Suite 3B to 1701 West Carol Street. I can also ascertain that several entries have been added and deleted between the two files.

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