In my never ending quest to find low-cost (OK … free) utilities, I recently needed to find a file-syncing utility for several small clients. Specifically we were looking for a utility to sync one or more folders from a computer to an external USB hard drive. Suprisingly, Microsoft had three of the four utilities I tested. Each utility has there merits and places. Perhaps on a future post I will list the Pros and Cons of each.
Robocopy – Microsoft’s long time command line utility since the NT days
FolderShare – Microsoft’s very network-friendly utility to sync files & folders
SyncToy – Microsoft’s latest sync utility for XP and Vista
Allway Sync – A highly recommended third party sync utility, with both free and paid versions
Those who have used this utility in the past know that this is an invaluable tool in the IT/Tech toolbox. It simply works and works well. The current version is part of Microsoft’s 2003 Resource Kit Tools. Don’t be fooled … although it says 2003, these tools work equally will on XP and Vista (but NOT support 645 bit OS). There is also a Robocopy GUI add-on, but I have not used it.
When I first heard about FolderShare from a Microsoft employee. I could not believe that Microsoft had been keeping this utility a secret. Not only does it allow you to keep files synced betweek your devices, you can also share files with friends and remotely download files from any web browser. And did I say that it’s free? Consider it a poor man’s Groove or Sharepoint.
The third free utility from Microsoft is SyncToy (version 1.4). There’s also SyncToy 2.0 Beta available that’s 64-bit compatible. It’s labeled beta, but has been tested even more than the 1.4 version. I was very impressed with how easy this was to set up and use.
The last utility I looked at, Allway Sync is a product of USOV Lab in Virginia, and is the only non-Microsoft free solution. They offer both a free version for private use, and an inexpensive ($19.95) pro version for commercial and business purposes. You not only can sink to other computers or USB devices, but for they also have a portable U3 version as well.