File synchronization utilities help you keep updated copies of files or folders in two or more locations, such as different computers, network drives, USB drives, or online storage. While a file sync utility could be used as a simple backup tool (called one-way syncing), its real power lies in keeping an identical set of working files in two or more locations.
An example of this would be keeping current versions of the same data files on both your home computer and office computer (two-way syncing). File sync utilities keep track of which files you create or change, or even delete in one location, and can create, change and delete those same files in the other location.
There are a lot of contenders in this category, but only a few stand out based on the criteria below.
Criteria for the Evaluating a Synchronization Utility:
A good synchronization utility would have most or all the following features.
- Support two-way synchronization of files.
- Able to replicate any source folder even if the files are in use.
- Detect conflicts or file collisions. These occur when a file has changed in both locations since the last sync operation. This requires that a database or journal be kept by the utility.
- Propagate deletions and detect file renames. This also requires a log file of previous operations.
- Support filters and rules for fine tuning what files are, or are not included in the sync operations.
- Show a preview of what is going to take place during a sync operation, and allow the user to easily over-ride any actions desired.
- Have a job scheduler and the ability to automatically detect and launch sync operations when a destination becomes active. (Such as plugging in a USB drive)
- Support syncing to both local and network locations.
- SyncBack supports file compression and can verify file integrity after job completion.
- Synkron had a lot of votes for this one in the comments section.
- File Synchronizer is good if you are looking for a minimalistic or simplistic utility.
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