It can be an exhausting job to copy files from one computer to another, whether it’s a new laptop or that processing monster you always wanted. Without the right means or methods, sometimes simple tasks can take extended periods of time. A wise solution for this kind of problems can be found in syncing applications, which basically do the entire job for you.
There are two types of software: the first one is made up by specially designed applications for syncing different devices while the second, cloud services, has an ampler scope but can also be used for our purpose. The main difference between these two solutions is that with a cloud you will also have a backup copy kept online. On the other hand, those choosing the cloud solution will probably have to buy a premium account if they have a lot of files that need to be transferred.
Syncing files between computers
Today we will present some titles from each category, while showing how to tweak important settings of each. At the end of the day, you should be able to use these applications to synchronize your favorite files between two or more devices.
SyncToy is a free PowerToy application from Microsoft that synchronizes files between computers connected to the same network. It is compatible with all versions of the Windows platform but unfortunately, it doesn’t offer support for Mac OS. The application is highly customizable, easy to use and helps users to do most processes in just a few steps, including copying, moving, and synchronization.
Here’s how to benefit from these features:
- Download SyncToy from the official Microsoft site.
- Click on “Create New Folder Pair” button.
- Now choose the path of the “left folder” and the “right folder”. The left folder represents the path to the folder that you want to be synchronized, while the right folder represents the path to the folder on the target machine.
- A new screen will appear, offering three possible actions: Synchronize, Echo, Contribute. The last two only copy the new and updated files from the left folder to the right folder and, as a plus, Echo will also clone every delete actions from left to right. In our case, we will choose the “Synchronize” action.
- Now, type a name for the synced folders and click “Finish”.
- Lastly, click on “Run” to begin the synchronization.
Each time you want to synchronize files you will either have to push the “Run” button or to schedule an automatic task via Microsoft’s Task Scheduler. A very nice feature of this little program is that it has the capability of showing all the files that were involved in the synchronization process with a simple push of the “Preview” button.
FreeFileSync is a basic and simple to use application for syncing all types of files. The app comes with a folder comparison and synchronization tool that will do the entire job, as soon as the user completes these following steps:
- Download FreeFileSync from here.
- Open the application and a folder you want to clone information from and its destination.
- Now, “Compare” the files and select synchronization settings, after your liking.
- After that, press the “Synchronize” button.
The “Compare” and “Synchronize” buttons pretty much speak for themselves and the whole process of comparing and syncing is very quick. Some other interesting features of FreeFileSync include detecting moved and renamed files and folders, cross-platform compatibility between Windows and Linux, processing multiple folder pairs and case sensitive synchronization.
BitTorrent Sync is a free tool from the creators of the well-known torrent client, which allows syncing files easily and securely between computers using the peer-to-peer protocol. The advantage of this application is that none of your files are going to cloud, but directly to the other computer. Note that both computers must be connected to internet so that the syncing operation can be done.
A big disadvantage is that the whole operation is seen as torrenting, so it could be blocked by certain internet providers or local firewalls. Here’s how to configure the software:
- First of all, download BitTorrent Sync from here.
- When you start the application for the first time you have to choose the location for the synced folder and BitTorrent gives you a “secret” number. This code will be used further on the other computer to link the two synced folders.
- Once all details are introduced, the syncing process will automatically begin.
GoodSync has innovative syncing algorithms that allow the program to sync files between computers, USB drives, FTP servers and different online data storage. The GoodSync Connect feature allows to directly connect two different computers in a peer to peer style, without using intermediates.
This application has a lot of features and many settings that can be automated, such as syncing files between different computers based on a schedule. Other interesting things are that the transfer is is encrypted and that uploads and downloads can be resumed from any point. The free version has a limited amount of available features, but the Pro version has them all and it costs $29.95. For our today’s purpose, we’re going to show how to synchronize two computers with GoodSync:
- Download and install the standalone client from here.
- Select the “Yes, connect my computers using GoodSync Connect”.
- After that, log in with your existing account or simply create one if you don’t have. Note that it is very important to remember your username and password because they will be required on the other side, when syncing.
- Select New under Job menu to choose the folder.
- After doing so, name the job and select the job type: Synchyronize.
- Choose the directories you want to share and click on “Analyze” to see the files. Next, just press the “Sync” button.
- From the other computer, just install the program and choose the same option from the second step and enter the password for your Windows account.
On the local network
Nowadays, it’s very common to have more than one computer in a home, so transferring files between them becomes essential. Sharing a folder is a simple process, but not everybody knows how to do it. That’s why, we’re going to show you how to properly share a folder on Windows:
- Go to the desired folder and right click on it. This can be any video found on the local computer.
- Choose “Share with…” and select to share it with “Specific People“.
- Now using the drop-down arrow, choose a specific user or, everyone. Practically, the second choice permits access to shared files to everybody connected to the network.
- Finally click on “Share” and wait until the process ends.
- To access the newly shared folder from other places in the workgroup, just search your computer’s name in the Network section and the files will be at your disposal.
Moving onto the cloud section, we begin with Dropbox, which is a famous cloud based service that lets users access digital files (photos, docs, videos) from anywhere on the planet. It’s a free-to-use service that also comes with synchronization capabilities. Here’s how to configure the client:
- First of all, you will have to download the Dropbox application from here.
- Secondly, if you don’t already have an account you will be able to create one in the provided software. Regardless of how many devices you have, a single account is needed.
- Once the application is installed, a new folder will appear on your hard drive called “Dropbox”. Now, you will just have to copy or drag and drop the files that you want to be synchronized.
- To have access on other computers, just download the program on those too and your Dropbox folder will automatically sync. Dropbox can also be used offline because it works in the background and will automatically sync any new changes when internet access is once again active.
Another interesting feature of Dropbox is that it can sync even mobile phones. So, if you also want Dropbox on your phone, you can download it on Android or iOS. When it comes to other cloud services, installation steps remain pretty much the same: download the main application, move the files inside the newly created folder and then let the software sync automatically. Here are some interesting alternatives, if you want more:
Google Drive is the search engine giant’s own cloud built on the former Docs service that offers free storage for all Gmail users. It comes with special applications for most desktop platforms (Windows, Mac, Chrome OS) and for some mobile platforms (Android and iOS) – which can be download from here.
The most interesting feature of Drive allows simultaneous collaboration on a project, instant messaging between collaborators and a “time machine”, that permits the user to keep, view and revise multiple versions of the same file. Free accounts get 5 GB of cloud storage and even more, if you pay. More details here.
Box is an online storage service that deserves proper consideration. It’s exclusively online and can be used for creating and editing documents directly in the browser. It has a desktop application which can be used only to sync files. All files contained by the sync folder will become accessible to every computer with the app installed. Synchronization can also be done directly from the web browser.
Box is great when it comes to compatibility, having dedicated apps for Windows or Mac computers, and Android, Blackberry, iOS and Windows Phone.
Yet another good alternative is Space Monkey, as the KickStarter project has already been properly founded. We’ve taken a look upon its concept two weeks ago, but to sum it up in a few words, it gives users 1TB of online storage space for free. Of course, the same syncing methods apply.