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.
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.
Free File Sync Utilities
- FreeFileSync (Windows, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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