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FolderSync– File Comparison and Directory Synchronization

by Alan German

When I found the freeware package FolderSync listed on PC World's “101 Freebies” web page (,aid,124883,00.asp), I couldn't resist giving it a try. I'm always looking for a quick and easy way to make backups of projects in progress and usually this means copying new and updated files from my working directory to a USB memory key. And, that's precisely what FolderSync is designed to do.

To conduct a comparison, you need to specify the directories with both the “new” and the “old” versions of the files. Pressing the “Compare Files” button then creates a two-column list of the files in the two directories. An equality sign is displayed between each set of two files that are identical. Any differences between files are noted with a large check mark to the left of the file name listings, and an arrow indicating a newer version of a file that can be copied so as to replace the older version.



A second button allows you to specify that the folders should be synchronized. No immediate action is taken. Rather, a pop-up dialogue box offers various file transfer options. In particular, you can specify that files should be copied from the directory containing the new versions to the directory with the old versions or, conversely, that files should be copied from the old to the new version. In addition, there is an option to delete files from the old version that don’t exist in the new version.

This all sounds very complicated but, in practice, both the check marks and the file listings are colour coded as either blue or red, depending on which directory contains the newer version, and the arrows point in the appropriate directions to copy the new version over the old. Furthermore, file selection buttons on the menu bar allow the display to be filtered in several ways. One useful option to simplify a large directory listing is to include only those files that are different between the two directories.

Additional program options are to include sub-directories in the folder comparisons, and to compare files by either time/date stamp or by binary content. The program allows all the specified options to be saved to a “profile” that can be retrieved for future use, this being intended to automate regularly performed directory synchronizations.

An unusual option is the ability to create a “patch” file that contains only the differences in content between two sets of files. The program’s author suggests that this technique can be used to quickly update a large file (or a set of files) that is distributed by E-mail, since it is only necessary to send the changes, using the patch, rather than transmitting the complete new version of the file.

Bottom Line:

FolderSync Build (Freeware)
Gerhard Kalab

Originally published: September, 2006

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