Free File / Data Synchronisation Software

Make sure all copies of your files are up-to-date on all devices

Free File Synchronisation Software

These free file synchronisation ("synchronization" in US English) utilities let you back up your files and folders to another device (like a removable USB drive) or computer, and ensure that all the different copies are the latest versions. The programs are useful if you keep your files on multiple devices and computers, for example, if you store your data not only on your desktop computer, but also on a USB flash drive as well as a notebook. They are also useful if you're sharing files with others through the use of an external drive. In such situations, keeping all the various copies synchronised can be a hassle, and it's easy to make a mistake and use an older version of your files instead of the latest one. The file sync software were created to automate the synchronisation of all the various copies on your different devices.

Incidentally, if you use Windows 10, you already have a built-in file synchronization facility called File History. You can find it by opening Settings, clicking "Update & Security", and selecting the "Backup" line in the left column.

Note that file sync software are only one type of backup software. They are designed specifically for your data, like your documents, photos, music, etc. They are not designed to back up your programs, or your entire system. For such tasks, you should get a full backup and image program, such as those listed on the Free Hard Disk Backup and Restore, Hard Disk Image and Cloning Utilities page.

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Free File Sync Utilities

Bart (Windows) New

Bart backs up your files and folders by synchronising the changes from multiple source directories (ie, not just your Documents folder, but others as well) to their equivalent destination folders. For this program, the synchronisation is in one direction only, that is, the destination folder is always kept in sync with the source folder (which is the primary device on which you make changes or save things), not vice versa. (As such, you should not change files directly in the destination folder, since they will be overwritten when the program runs, so as to make them identical to the source.) This is a Windows program.

Syncthing (Windows, macOS, Linux, *BSD, illumos/Solaris, Android) New

Syncthing is meant for those who want to synchronize files across a network (either a local network or the Internet, or both). It works continuously, synchronizing files in real time. All communication is encrypted and secured using TLS. Machines are identified by an ID, and you will need to mark a folder for sharing and pass the other machine this ID. The software works on Windows, macOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Dragonfly BSD, illumos, Solaris, and Android. It is an open source program.

jaBuT Backup (Windows)

JaBuT Backup is a data backup tool that can back up your files and folders on a schedule, in the background, or manually. It has multiple modes of operation, including the ability to synchronise your files with that of a backup, doing a mirror copy of your current files, etc. The software is also able to send you an email when it completes its work. It runs on Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 10. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are available, as well as installer (which you can use to install on your system) and portable versions (which does not need to be installed).

FreeFileSync (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

FreeFileSync is an open source utility that compares the files in two folders (directories) and synchronises them. It is able to delete files that no longer exist (or move them to the Recycle Bin), create batch jobs for automated synchronization, handle the inclusion or exclusion of specific files, copy locked files (Windows only), handle daylight saving time changes on FAT/FAT32 file systems, ignore Windows' "\RECYCLER" and "\System Volume Information" folders (Windows only), has conflict detection, etc. Synchronization over the network is supported.

Microsoft SyncToy (Windows)

Microsoft SyncToy allows you to synchronize your data between two storage locations, so that you can keep the latest version of your files in both locations. The tool is also able to track situations when you rename a file, and it makes sure that the file in the other storage area is also renamed. Other features include the ability to exclude files based on filename matching or file attributes, unattended (scheduled) folder updating, sync of encrypted files, sync over the network, etc. The tool requires the .NET framework. It works in Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Unison File Synchronizer (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux)

Unison synchronizes files and directories stored on different hosts on the Internet. It can handle changes made to either replica of a distributed directory structure, and hence is more than just a mirroring utility. It is open source, distributed under the GNU GPL, and works on Windows, Linux, Solaris, OS X, etc.

Dsynchronize (Windows)

Dsynchronize lets you synchronize 2 or more folders on a hard disk, LAN, FTP server, USB flash drive (or USB key), CD or DVD. It can be set to start as a service or when you log into your Windows account, and also to shut down the computer when done. The program supports bidirectional sync, symbolic and hard links, junctions and mount points, ACL, backing up of replaced files, logs sent by email, the ability to include or exclude files and folders, etc. (Note that the author of the site lists multiple different software on the same page, so you will need to scroll down to find Dsynchronize.)

CleanSync (Windows)

CleanSync is able to sync files between two computers or between a computer and a removable (external) device like a thumb (flash) drive. It can automatically resolve changes in drive letters (since removable devices can be plugged in with a different drive letter) and detect conflicts (such as when a file is deleted on one device but has been modified on the other device), allowing you to decide what to do manually. This is an open source program, released under the GNU General Public License.

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