Ensuring you get pizza with sync tools

The latest release of GoodSync is very sophisticated, with support for synchronising between Windows resources, as well as via FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 and WebDAV

How often have you had to repeatedly copy files from one place to another either to create a backup or to synchronize two locations, and finally resorted to writing some dumb batch files to do the job? Of course, as your batch files have no real intelligence, you could well find your ad hoc solution has failed you.

This will typically be discovered at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon when you are just starting to wrap up for the day and are looking forward to a nice evening of, oh, say, beer, pizza and "CSI Las Vegas" (not that lame "CSI Miami" with the insufferable David Caruso). Better still, when this happens you know the lost files will be something the CEO wants now. Say goodbye to beer, pizza and TV. As you might hope, I have a couple of Windows products for avoiding this scenario (who's your daddy?).

The first is a utility that I covered some time ago called GoodSync from Siber Systems that is one of the best tools of its type I've come across.

The latest release of GoodSync (version 7.8.1.1) is very sophisticated with support for synchronizing between Windows resources (including Windows Mobile devices), as well as via FTP, SFTP, Amazon S3 and WebDAV.

GoodSync has a clear, albeit busy, interface and provides a lot of reporting of what it's doing when it works. One of its strongest features is the ability to run a job in "analyze" mode to see what will happen without actually making any changes to either the source or destination.

GoodSync supports encryption and can perform chained synchronization to ripple changes from one source to a sequence of destinations. This is particularly useful for propagating changes from, say, your home PC to a nerd stick (USB drive), to your work machine. The program supports locking to prevent multiple copies of GoodSync competing to simultaneously make changes in a folder.

Goodsync is also able to handle copying from locked files on Vista and XP using the Windows Volume Shadow service.

The standard desktop version of GoodSync is free but limited to three active jobs, while the Pro version (US$30) supports unlimited jobs. You can also purchase GoodSync bundled ($40) with GoodSync2Go, a version of the program designed to run from a USB drive.

There are also enterprise versions of GoodSync which include a workstation license ($40) and a server license ($995) for all versions of Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. The enterprise licenses also include a command-line-only version of the product.

GoodSync has a huge number of features and having used the latest couple of versions for an extended period I think this may be the best synchronizer on the market. I give GoodSync a rating of 5 out of 5.

Of course, GoodSync as a desktop utility is not for everyone given that it is fairly technical. Another synchronization product worth looking at is Second Copy 7, published by Centered Syste0s.

SC7 has a decent user interface that lets you set up synchronization jobs ("profiles") using either a wizard or expert mode , and a lot of additional advanced options (although, it must be said, less than GoodSync). Only local storage and FTP servers are supported.

The one big gotcha with SC7 is the lack of support for handling locked files, making the utility more suitable for either interactive use or as part of your start-up or shutdown routine. I give Second Copy 7 ($30) a rating of 3 out of 5.

So, there you have it: Two choices in your quest to ensure that what holds you back on Fridays from beer, pizza, and "CSI Las Vegas" won't be missing files. Now, we just need to figure out how to get around the other million things that could get in the way.

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Mark Gibbs

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