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Synchronize your folders with FreeFileSync 2015-03-17

How to make duplicate copies of your folders

  1. Cameldung
    Do you have a folder of videos, pictures, or music files, etc you add to or change on a regular basis? Of course you should have a backup of these files if they are important to you, or you may wish to keep these files separate from your normal system backups. You may also wish to backup these files on a more or less frequent basis.

    An example might be if you have a large video/audio collection that adds significantly to your system backup file size. Synchronizing these folders will allow a separate copy of these precious files, and allow a more manageable system backup file size.

    There are many cases for syncing folders and files, but do bear in mind that syncing does not replace the need for full system backups.

    FreeFileSync is one of many free syncing applications available and is chosen for this guide because it is:

    Can be installed or run as a portable application.
    Will work on Windows 32 and 64bit, Linux, and Mac OS X. 10.7 up.
    Synchronizes across a network.
    Is actively developed with updated versions available regularly.

    A full list of features is here freefilesync features

    To get started, download it here.

    From the downloaded file choose either a normal install or to expand as a portable application. As usual, be alert to any third party programs that may be offered along with main program. If you opt for a full install you will see two new FreeFileSync desktop icons, one green and one red. To keep things simple at this stage, whilst learning the app, I would suggest right clicking the red icon and deleting it. It can be reinstated later if needed.

    Open the program and you should have an opening screen as below. To simplify the sync procedure we will close the "configuration" and "overview boxes". Should you want them back, select "Reset Layout" from the tools menu.


    We now have a simpler layout to work with. The main program options are located in the "Tools" menu but the default options should be fine. Next we should configure how we will synchronize our files and we should take some time here.


    Clicking on either gear options gives us the same options, just with different tabs open. Lets look at the "Compare" tab options. The default options should be fine here, do bear in mind if you choose the "File Content" comparison method it can take an extended period to compare a large folder of files. The "Time Shift" difference should not require changing unless your comparing files across different time zones, or between differently formatted drives. If necessary adjust to suit.


    The filter tab allows the certain files to in the synchronization or not, again the default settings should be fine to start off with.


    The final and most important "Synchronization" tab should be checked carefully to ensure the correct outcome is achieved. There are four variants or synchronizing procedures.

    Two way: Uses a database to automatically add or delete files on both the source and target folders.

    Mirror: This is the suggested way to start learning this program. By using mirror, the target, or right hand folder is modified to be an identical copy of the source, or left hand folder.

    Update: Copies only new and updated files to the target folder, does not delete files in the target folder that have been deleted in the source folder.

    Custom: Here you can create any type of synchronization method you like. Simply click on any of the green icons to the right and they will cycle through the options available, handle with care.

    Delete files: handle whether the deleted files will go to the recycle bin, be permanently deleted, or placed in a folder with a version number.


    Click on OK to close the options dialogue box. The program is now set up to mirror so let's sync two folders. In the example below we have browsed and selected the left hand, or source folder and the right hand or target folder. Do remember we have chosen to mirror the right hand folder to be exactly the same as the left hand, or source folder. Next click on the "Compare" box and we will be presented with a summary of what's about to change.


    In our example the compare summary shows a total of 144 changes will be made to the right hand or target folder only. A total of 505MB of files will be changed.

    Number box four shows an example of one of three files that will be updated in the target folder.

    Number five box shows an example of one hundred and thirty six files that will be added to the target folder.

    Number six box shows an example of one of five files to be deleted in the target folder.

    Next click on the "Synchronize box" and another confirmation box will appear.


    If all looks well click "Start" and another dialogue box will display the syncing progress, and finally the result.


    To confirm a successful synchronization close the above dialogue box and click on "Compare" again. We should have a result as below.


    By clicking on "Select view" we can toggle the results to show both folders are now identical.

    Congratulations you have now synchronized two folders.

    Freefilesync has many more features than described here, but if you follow this guide you will have no difficulty making accurate copies of your important folders. As you become familiar with this software you might want to synchronize to more than one folder at once, which is quite easy by following the steps in this picture.


    By clicking on the green plus symbol you can drag and drop, or browse for the folders you wish to sync to. As above we have chosen to sync a local hard drive, a networked pc drive, and a Network storage box. The rest of the procedure remains the same as before.

    If you have any questions about this tutorial, please feel free to ask them in our Forums.
    Lord Chance and Malnutrition like this.

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  1. Malnutrition
    Version: 2015-03-17
    Great review of a good program.