Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility

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Introduction

File synchronization utilities help you keep updated copies of files or folders in two or more locations, such as different computers, network drives, USB drives, or online storage. While a file sync utility could be used as a simple backup tool (called one-way syncing), its real power lies in keeping an identical set of working files in two or more locations.

An example of this would be keeping current versions of the same data files on both your home computer and office computer (two-way syncing). File sync utilities keep track of which files you create or change, or even delete in one location, and can create, change and delete those same files in the other location.

There are a lot of contenders in this category, but only a few stand out based on the criteria below.

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Rated Products

FreeFileSync  

A well designed and easy-to-use sync program


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Open source)
Very easy to understand and use "straight out of the box."
Very few filter options, no ftp, no auto sync, very sparse help.
Read full review...

Allway Sync  

A very well rounded product with a filter, rule set and loads of features


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)
Very robust set of filters and rules, support for FTP.
Monthly file copy limit of 40,000 files, no support for copying locked files.
Read full review...

Honourable Mentions

  • SyncBack supports file compression and can verify file integrity after job completion.
  • Synkron had a lot of votes for this one in the comments section.
  • File Synchronizer is good if you are looking for a minimalistic or simplistic utility.

 

Related Products and Links

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Editor

This software review is copy-edited by Ian Richards. Please help edit and improve this article by clicking here.

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Comments

FreeFileSync does modify file names when copying files, for example '-' and German Umlaute such as 'ä', 'ü', 'ö'.

Which Free Folder Synchronization Utility maintains the original file names?

You could use SyncFolders from http://www.syncfolders.elementfx.com.

I have installed FreeFileSync (without Open Candy at the time) and I am using it for daily updates of my documents on an external HDD.

The BIG plus I found on this software is that you can ask for the deleted files (the older version of the updated files) to be sent to a specific folder instead of the bin.
That way you can track older versions of a file. For example if I have edited a big Excel file I have been working on for several days, I can roll back to yesterday's version, or the day before or any previous version until the day where the file was created - as far as the "back up" files are kept.

The files are simply copied, so you can access them quite normally from Windows Explorer or whatever file manager or from any machine if they are on a portable device.

I am using it for my work and hold an average of 40 days of work archived (including Outlook's pst file).

Also you can chose to sync as many files/repertories/hard drives as you wish.
You can have several scenarios: i.e. I am saving work files everyday and personal/family files every week-end, I just need to choose which scenario I want to apply in one click.

First tuning is a bit demanding but then it's a dream!
I never faced any problem on recovery.
I am using it on Win7-64.

Thanks to Gizmo for pointing out this software

UPDATE: this was true until 5.3 version.
Now you have to edit the default setting if you want to keep more than 1 version of the old files
The older files are now renamed with date and time of deletion added at the end
AND they are now spread everywhere, instead of being sent unchanged into 1 folder/day as before.
I reversed to 5.3 version
-------------------------------------
I have to update my comment again
I installed version 5.16 (easily without any unwanted extra software)

The choice is now given:
- you can delete old files
- keep them with a date added to the name
- put them else where, without altering the name, in date folders.

That 3d option is my choice, so convenient :)
Thee software is fast, simple, reliable
Just perfect for what I am asking for

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