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Which File Synchronization Software


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I consult the bmwst.com oracle yet again:


I have about 30gb of work product on my firm's server that I want quick access to so I can work remotely, including places without wifi or other internet access. I'm using a USB drive for this now, but without software that will do bi-directional synchronization. So, I must manually move the files I work on remotely back to the server. Some of the time, that's no big deal, but in more complex situations it is at least a PITA, if not a cause of anxiety ("Did I really remember to copy over the files?" Such questions tend to come to mind when I roll over in bed in the middle of the night, but that's a whole 'nother issue.)


What I want to be able to do is quickly access and modify any file on the USB drive, and create new files, and have the USB drive sync with the server at my office, accurately and with minimum input or babysitting from me, the next time I'm actually at the office and hook up the USB drive to my office PC. I see that there are several programs out there that purport to do this. I'm interested in recommendations from someone who is actually using one or more of these in the way I intend, and likes it. FWIW, this would be for various home and office PCs running Windows XP, and an office network running Windows Server 2003. TIA.

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No advice on the sync product, but do keep security in mind. Thumb drives are lost all the time and if there's confidential client data on there, your firm could be in deep sh*t. Encryption of some sort is a must. (I like TrueCrypt, but I'm sure other options exist that would serve the purpose.)

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What Russell said. Big potential for data loss there.


I would suggest you purchase an encrypted USB drive to start with. Any synch software should be able to work once the drive is mounted (typically w/ a password to unlock/mount the drive).


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Understood, and VERY good point, regarding security. I neglected to mention that the sync software I'm using now, which came with the USB drive, uses 128-bit encryption and password protection. But it is really only a backup program, without bi-directional capability, and not sufficiently user-friendly.

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I'm sure there's a tool out there that uses rsync under the hood. Google rsync and windows and go from there. rsync is capable of just copying files that have changed and leaving the rest alone.

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While I've not used it personally, you might try a Microsoft product (free!) called SyncToy. It professes to do just what you are requesting.


You can fine it here.




Mike O

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+ 1 on sync toy. It works pretty good.


There's a tool you can get called smart sync pro that works pretty well. I got a copy of it with a little NAS device I bought.

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Depending on your network connectivity, another possible method is to use the "cloud". There are a couple of different services.




Microsoft Live Sync


These work by syncing a directory and there are full copies of the data in that directory on all the computers registered to an individual account. A change made on one computer is automatically replicated to the other computers registered to that account if they are connected to the Internet.


If for some reason you are not connected to the Internet, you can still access the data, but it won't sync until you are re-connected to the Internet.


Depending on how much you trust the "cloud" and your company IT policies, this may not be what you are looking for, but it is easier than keeping track of a USB drive or stick.

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Thanks for the suggestions. It seems that the bi-directional sync programs on the market are weak at best on encryption, or the version that supposedly encrypts costs 2x. SyncToy refers to encryption, but I'm not seeing that it actually does any. OTOH, it is free. So, here's what I've cobbled together to audition:


1. Using TrueCrypt, I created an encrypted container on the USB drive. This was easier than I expected. The documentation is very good, and even a pretend geek like me got it right the first time.


2. I'll use SyncToy for bi-directional syncing between folders on the office network and the encrypted container. It works at least as well as the 3 commercial programs I tested yesterday.


3. When I'm working remotely, I'll mount the encrypted container and work on files within it. Then, when I'm back in the office, I'll mount the encrypted container, and sync.


Seems like there should be an easier way to do this. Maybe if I were willing to shell out for a premium version of a commercial sync program I'd find it. I'm not ready to go there, yet.


I hadn't considered the cloud idea. My limiting factors there are my understanding of security in that environment, and that my home internet connection is via HughesNet, which uploads at glacial speed, plus I bump up against the Fair Access Policy, which is death by a million paper cuts if I'm under a deadline.


I'll give this a few days use and report back. In the meantime, if someone else has a killer app for this, lemme know.

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I'll give this a few days use and report back.


OK, so I've used the combination and procedure above daily for the last week. Only one minor, and apparently inconsequential, glitch: SyncToy usually reports one or more errors when writing to the encrypted container, but the files it lists in the error reporting (different files each time) have been OK in both locations. So I'm not sweating it. Beyond that, it seems rock solid. :thumbsup:

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I tried nearly every way listed above, but settled on www.allwaysync.com. They have a free but I use the pro version for the extra features. I had a problem with other free programs not being able to see network drives but doesn't sound like you have that issue.

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