Often you want to take a backup of one or more of your folders (and all their contents) to an external disk, so that the contents of folders on your local hard disk and those on the external disk are identical. You can do this using usual copy/paste function of Windows. But a much better method is to synchronize the contents of both folders (on your local hard disk and on the external disk) using a freeware tool called FreeFileSync. Using FreeFileSync, you can synchronize files not only between two folders or but also two drives.
FreeFileSync is a folder comparison and synchronization tool providing highly optimized performance and usability without any complex user interface. It enables you to synchronize files between two folders or two drives. You can either mirror two folders to create an exact copy of the source folder, or perform a two-way synchronization that will copy new or updated files in both directions. The program also supports an Update mode which will only copy files that are new or have been changed. You can also choose how to handle file deletions by either sending them to the recycle bin or moving them to another folder.
Here are some of the key features of FreeFileSync :
- Compare files (byte-wise or by date) and synchronize them.
- Subfolders are also synchronized, including empty folders.
- Network support – synchronize over network.
- Easy user interface: highly optimized for speed and huge sets of data.
- Support for filesizes larger than 4 GB.
- Option to move files to Recycle Bin instead of deleting or overwriting them.
You can download FreeFileSync from its SourceForge website. The download is around six megabytes in size and is in form of a setup installer. During the installation you can choose to install FreeFileSync to local system or as a portable application to any folder of your choice. I chose the portable install, as it does not write anything to Windows system. If you choose the local install, then it would create entries in registry and make shortcuts on your desktop and start menu.
After the installation, you can run it from your desktop shortcut or by double-clicking FreeFileSync.exe in the installation folder. The main window interface is not very complex to use. You can click on the Browse buttons to select two folders or drives. You can also drag and drop the folders from the Windows Explorer to the folder text fields. After this you can choose either to compare the folders by clicking on the Compare button or go straight to synchronization by clicking on the big Synchronize… button.
When you compare, it would show all the files that should be synchronized. You can choose whether to synchronize a specific file by clicking on the green checkbox next to it. You should note that FreeFileSync compares the files using their dates by default – so a newer file would replace the contents of its older copy during the Synchronizing operation. Of course, you can change the compare method so that it compares the files by content. You can click on the big gear like icon next to the Compare button to choose a compare method.
Similarly, you can click on the big gear like icon next to the Synchronize… button to choose synchronize settings. Typically you can choose methods using which FreeFileSync is going to synchronize your folders. The default method is Automatic – all the changes are identified using a database and propagated on both sides. The Mirror method creates an exact replica of the folder on the left side – so in the end, the folder on the left would be copied over the folder on the right. The Update method copies or updates only newer files found in the left folder over to the folder on the right. You can also choose a Custom method to configure your own synchronization rules. You can also choose a deletion method – delete permanently, move to recycle bin or keep all the versions.
FreeFileSync is an easy to use folder synchronization and comparison software. It is free, open-source and supports both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows. It also supports multiple language interfaces. You can install it on your system or just use it as a portable application. If you have to regularly sychronize folders or drives, then it can help your do that efficiently and quickly. You can download FreeFileSync from http://sourceforge.net/projects/freefilesync/.