File sync software that does comparisons

Posted on 2011-10-26
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I have a client that has both a laptop and a desktop PC.
They use a genealogy program that stores in excess of 40GB data (photos, documents etc) and its database in a directory on the C: drive.
They've installed the program on both computers and are using an external USB hard drive to transfer data between the computers for the genealogy program.
They would like a program that will allow them to only transfer the modified or new files rather than the whole 40GB directory.
They wish to use the external rather than a network because then the external hard drive is essentially a backup if one (or both) of the computers died.
Question by:Reece Dodds
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LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 37034950
Free file sync is good but the free version of Syncback will probably be better.
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Accepted Solution

joelsplace earned 2000 total points
ID: 37034953

Author Comment

by:Reece Dodds
ID: 37034955
does either do a comparison and tell you which data is newer and needs to be copied?
I need the program to be as simple to use as possible so that she can't screw up and overwrite the newest data with the old stuff...
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LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 37034958
I have used SyncBack Pro for similar situations and love it.

LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 37034968
They both do.
Syncback seems like what you want.  It requires some setup but is then simpler in use.  Free file sync is very simple but requres the user to know where the two sets of files are to compare.  It show them on both sides of the window and then has a big sync button.

Author Comment

by:Reece Dodds
ID: 37034992
Thanks guys.  I've provided her with both programs.  She said she will install both and see which one suits her level of understanding.
I'll post feedback and award points soon.

LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 37035440
I installed and configured Karen Kenworthy's free "Replicator" program to backup my Father's "My Documents" folder each time Windows starts, but it can be run manually just as easily.


The program is unsupported, as karen sadly passed away recently, but it is well documented.

- Install Karen's Replicator.
- Run it from the Start Menu shortcut.
- It launches minimized to the System Tray.
- Click the Red "K" Replicator System Tray icon to show the program window.
- Maximize the program window.
- There is a very comprehensive help file available from the "Help" button.
- Click "Edit Settings" button to show new dialog.
- Dialog has two tabs: Job Settings and Other Settings.
- Click "New Job" button to expand the dialog downwards.

- The "Show Tips" button shows tips for each of the dialog's settings.
- Enter new job name, eg. "Backup Genealogy".
- Click "Browse" buttons to set Source directory and Destination Directory.
- Use File filter to include or exclude file types. Default is All (*.*).
- For these purposes it is probably best to untick the "Schedule" box.
- Tick the following boxes:
  Include Sub-Folders
  Copy Files Only if Changed or Added
      Compare Time of Last Modification
          Copy Only if Source is Newer
  Compare File Sizes.

DO NOT tick the "Replicate Folder and File Deletions?" box.
The tip for this explains that it enables true "synchronisation", ie. if a folder or file is deleted from the source since the last sync, or vice-versa, the corresponding file or folder will also be deleted to keep the source and destination exact mirrors.

DO NOT tick the "Delete Old Copy Before Creating New" box.

Click "SAVE JOB".

This collapses the options for the new job, lists it under the "Job Settings" tab, and provides (amongst other buttons) "Edit Job" and "Delete Job" buttons.

Open the "Other Settings" tab and set the Logging, Miscellaneous, and Global Exclusions options as desired.  Under the Miscellaneous there is a box entitled "Launch the Replicator each time '<user>' logs on".  I suggest that you untick this.

Click the "Save Changes and Close" button when done.

This will now show a main program window with the named "Job" and a tick-box next to it which allows you to choose the job and then either edit settings again and resave or, "Run Highlighted Jobs Now", or you can click the "Save Shortcut to "Job(s)..." button and place a shortcut in eg. the Start menu or Desktop and name it to reflect the purpose of the job.

That's it!  Once the job is set up and configured you don't have to do anything fancy again.  Any time you then need to run the backup job you can either use the shortcut created or else open Replicator and run the named job from within the program window.

Job details are saved to:
"C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Local Settings\Application Data\Karen's Power Tools\Replicator\jobs.txt"

Of course, your client has to decide what to do here.  Replicator can be run with one job that updates the folders and files on the External USB Drive, but another job will have to be run to use the USB Drive as the source and update the destination on the other computer.  She could install Replicator on each computer and configure one job for each stage:
1. Run Replicator from Computer 1 and update files and folders on USB Drive with data from Computer 1.
2. Connect USB Drive to Computer 2 and run Replicator from Computer 2 to update folders and files on Computer 2 from USB Drive as source.

There is also the Microsoft PowerToy for Windows XP "SyncToy 2.1":
but I think it's really a full "synchronising" program that keeps source and destination "mirrored" rather than just a "copy and update if source is newer", which is what your client is looking for.

Personally I would just have two batch files on the USB Drive.  One that sets the USB Drive as the destination and updates the files and folders on it from Computer 1, and another that sets a folder on Computer 2 as the destination and updates the files and folders on Computer 2 using the data on the USB drive as the source.  Robocopy or Xcopy would both work using the "update files in destination if older than those in source" switches.  The names of the computers won't change, so it is easy enough to use the %ComputerName% variable as a check before the batch file runs.  Doing it this way means you don't have to worry about drive letters assigned to the USB drive on each of the host computers.

If you would like some examples of batch files, just give us details of the folder paths and computer names.

Expert Comment

ID: 37038838
GoodSync is the best software.
LVL 39

Expert Comment

ID: 37041653
"The Best" depends on exactly what features you actually need or want:
I would suggest that some of the features may be superfluous to the immediate needs.

Author Closing Comment

by:Reece Dodds
ID: 37073801
Both suit the job needing to be done.  She has downloaded and installed both to find out which works best for her.


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