FreeFileSync's strength is in how easy it is to setup a backup task that synchronizes your private files and folders from a local hard drive to your backup medium. First you select left and right directories, one source, the other target, then press the compare button. FreeFileSync will show an expressive overview about the differences between these folders. Next you can setup various synchronization rules that will be used to make these folders equal. You can select mirror for a simple source to target copy process that only affects the changed files and avoids needlessly copying files that are already in sync. Or you can select the two-way synchronization variant which will treat both folders as being equally important. Changes on either side, no matter if it is a newly created file, an updated file, a deleted file or renamed files and folders will be propagated to the other side both ways. This allows for having two versions of your data on two distinct PCs, making changes on either of them and synchronizing them by using a portable USB stick in between.
All that is then left to do is to press the synchronize button and FreeFileSync will start to synchronize all files and folders immediately. Not less important than how easy it is to setup a synchronization task is FreeFileSync's speed of execution. Compared to other synchronization tools FreeFileSync is among the top contenders of fastest copy tools, including even non-synchronization tools like TeraCopy, FastCopy or Ultracopier which specialize on file transfer speed above everything else. For a free open source tools this is quite remarkable, considering that paid synchronization tools usually offer the best and fastest synchronization speeds only in paid and premium variants.
In addition to FreeFileSync's core functionality, the synchronization of files and folders, it offers also a number of advanced features that are rarely found in similar software and if so generally not for free. FreeFileSync is able to copy locked files and folders using a Windows feature called Volume Shadow Copy Service. For example this is needed when synchronizing emails without having to close Outlook during the time of synchronization. FreeFileSync is also optimized for reliability, a feature often overlooked since its benefits are not immediately apparent and are appreciated only when disaster strikes. Power outages, network drops, or user aborts at any time are no problem for FreeFileSync to handle while data integrity is guaranteed at all times. Errors messages are helpful and provide detailed information about what went wrong and why. FreeFileSync shines in this overlooked area where other file synchronization tools would too often present the user with the notorious "unknown error" message instead.
All in all testing FreeFileSync has been a pleasant experience and it will remain my top choice to synchronize files and synchronize folders of my private data collection for backup purposes for the time to come. Considering recent revelations with regards to data privacy on the internet, local backups using portable hard disks are preferred over dubious cloud storage services any time of the day. It's even better when this scenario is so well-supported by free and open source tools like FreeFileSync which help to automate this task and allow to execute synchronization and data backup with a mere double-click on its configuration file after a single-time setup.
FreeFileSync is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X and can be downloaded for free directly from the project's website. So there is no excuse anymore to not have your data backed up and secured today: http://freefilesync.sourceforge.net/
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John Dennis is a senior software developer with over 20 years of industry experience. For his personal backups he is looking for tools that help him to synchronize files and synchronize folders of his ever growing collection of files.
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