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Freeware File Sync Apps
10-28-2012, 12:18 AM (This post was last modified: 10-28-2012 09:36 AM by AliShibaz.)
Post: #1
Freeware File Sync Apps
You may think this is a very long-winded post. But I would ask you to consider this: When you get serious about downloading files and you have thousands of files on your hard drives or in the cloud, you will really need and want to get an app that will synchronize all those files for you. I have really just started downloading and I have more than a thousand files. I can see that it sure won't take long before I have many thousands of files and it is a big problem keeping them all organized. It takes a huge amount of time. I spend way more time keeping them organized than I do watching them.

So, if you think this description of two of those apps is too long to read, I want to tell you that it will take many, many hours to learn how to use a File Synch apps and I think you will be very happy if you can find any way to shorten that process. So, I think you will want to go through a description like this one because it will save you a very large amount of time any way when you need to learn how to use these apps.

For anyone who downloads movies or TV shows on a regular basis, it is really required to have some way to keep all those files in synch. The problem is that after downloading a few movies and/or TV programs, I find that I then easily spend many hours trying to copy them to the proper locations on my hard drives. I know that must sound very peculiar to many of you. It certainly would seem that way to me when I first started downloading. But, I will ask you to trust me on this. If you download files on a regular basis, a file synch app will be a huge help to you.

I started downloading movies and TV programs a few months ago and my collection grew very quickly and it sure didn't take long before it got completely out of control. I now have so many files and folders that I had to buy three external hard drives to keep them all. At present, I have 10 TB worth of HD space and I need more.

But the big problem is not that I need more HD space. It is keeping the various folders and files in synch. I keep at least two copies of every file so that I have some kind of backup. But after a session of downloading files, it then usually takes many hours to organize them all and copy them into the proper folders. You may think it is excessive to spend a few hours to download those files. But that is just the beginning. It then takes many more hours to organize them all and copy them into the proper folders.

Also, it is very easy to delete a file from a folder but then forget to delete it from all the other folders where it resides. Similarly it's a big problem when I copy a file to one folder but then forget to copy it to all the other folders where it belongs.

Well, to make a long story short, I have found two freeware file synchronization apps named "FreeFileSync" and "Allway Sync". They are very easy to find and download and install. You can also just Google for "freeware folder sync apps" and download and install them.

On a tangent, I want to tell you about a few of the links you will find when you Google for "freeware folder sync apps". One is "Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility" and it is critical about "Allway Sync" claiming that it aborts on big jobs. Another interesting one is "Top 7 File Syncing Apps - Free and Shareware Tools to Sync". I think it would be very interesting to have a look at this one.

The reason I think it would be good to learn as much as you can about these apps before you make the decision as to which one you will use, is because there is a lot to know and understand about these tools and you really should know as much as you can about them before you select which one to use. After all, you will wind up spending many, many hours working with whichever app you choose and after working with for a few months, it will be a very big disappointment if you discover that you really should have chosen a different one. The reason is that you will invest a huge amount of time learning how to use these things and if possible, you will really want to avoid doing that for more than one of them.

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Keeping folders and files in sync is actually a very complex problem - especially if you have more than one PC. Both these apps really surprised me because they handle many of the complex aspects of this problem. For example:

1) You can usually synchronize your file folders over many different kinds of devices - such as external hard drives and USB drives and I forget some of the others but I was amazed at how many there are.

2) You can specify any number of folders and these apps will synchronize them all. It will do two-way synchronization, three-way synchronization, and more. What that means is if you have three folders (perhaps on three diff machines) and you want them all to contain the same files, these apps will ensure that all three have the same apps. And if you unplug an external HD from one machine and plug it into a different machine where it will be identified with a different letter, these apps are smart enough to handle that. Amazing!

3) They not only identify the names of the files that are out of sync, but they also go ahead and copy files that are missing from one folder to that folder for you.

4) The strategies they use for deciding which files are out of sync is extremely complex. They look at the file names and all the dates (such the creation date, date last saved, date accessed, date acquired, date archived, date completed, date modified, date received, ... The list is extremely long and it's just an indication of how thorough these apps are.

Anyway, there are many more aspects they will handle and I hope to write more about them once I learn more.

There are also many Pros and Cons to consider about each of these apps and I have just picked two that seem to be at the top of the recommended list. I actually have no idea which ones are best.

So far, I have discovered a few nice features about these kinds of apps. Here are some of the nicest features:

Both apps will first of all inform you of all the folders and files that are not in sync and give you an opportunity to over-ride the decision as to what you want to do about it.

They both will suggest a default action so if you are dealing with hundreds or thousands of files, it won't take you a long time. If you are willing to accept their default recommendations, then it will just go ahead and do what it wants to do and it won't take long.

Here are some features that I think are not so nice:

One of the apps - Allway Sync - has a "paid" component. It's called the "Pro Version". I can't find out what it does above and beyond the free version. But I have sent them an email asking if they could tell me where or how I can find out.

It is way too early to make any decision as to which one is better. But, in general, I find that you get what you pay for and if one of these is totally free while the other one wants you to send them money for the "Pro version", usually that one is the better app. But it will take several days or maybe even weeks to study them both before I would know enough to decide which I think is better.

In the meantime, if any of you know more about these kinds of apps and could recommend one as being the best of them, I sure would appreciate hearing from you.

Also, I want to say that I'm sorry this is such a long post. But for anyone who is serious about downloading files (or acquiring them in any other way), having a way to keep them in synch over different folders, different devices and different machines is hugely important. At least it is for me. I just spend way too much time messing with these files and wishing I had a way to let me do this in a much shorter amount of time.


Here are the links to the two freeware apps:
http://allwaysync.com/
http://freefilesync.sourceforge.net/
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10-31-2012, 11:52 AM (This post was last modified: 10-31-2012 11:53 AM by AliShibaz.)
Post: #2
RE: Freeware File Sync Apps
I am kind of surprised that no one has anything to say about File Sync Apps.

I'm not going to try and push you into getting involved.

However, I would appreciate if anyone would care to say why they don't think this is very important (if, in fact, you don't).

I thought lots of people would go for it because, I figured lots of you had large collections of video files. But maybe I'm wrong about that?

But if you do have a large collection of video files (namely about 3TB or larger), how do you keep them all organized if you don't use one of these apps to keep them in sync?
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11-01-2012, 07:55 AM
Post: #3
RE: Freeware File Sync Apps
I personally manage all my content myself, by hand so-to-speak.

I have collecting media since I was a young teenager and have always been very particular about file names, folder names (we used to called them directories Tongue ) and especially id3 tag info where applicable. Having spent hours of my life sorting and editing this collection originally, I now have such an organized collection that I have no trouble whatsoever finding what I want. There are several copies backed up and I have a system that basically consists of new content staying in a 'dump' folder until it is properly sorted- I can still watch it on any of my devices it just doesn't get mixed into the backup/update cycle.

Having said that, this is still a pretty interesting application.
Nice work Ali.

Wildcard is awesome.
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11-01-2012, 11:03 AM (This post was last modified: 11-01-2012 11:08 AM by AliShibaz.)
Post: #4
RE: Freeware File Sync Apps
Hey Mark,

Thanks for your reply.

In many ways, we have had very similar experiences. I too have spent huge amounts of time acquiring and organizing my files. Believe it or not, but in some ways, I actually resent the amount of time I have spent, because I get the feeling that if I knew more about managing files, I would be able to spend a whole lot more time enjoying them instead of working with them. Spending hours and hours every day often seems like a real waste of time. There just has to be a more efficient way.

Sometimes I get the feeling that instead of me owning them ... the truth is that they own me and I am working in service of them - keeping them up to date and organized. I started with audio files and I always thought they were the "be all" and "end all". But now, I only use audio files for my listening pleasure and I just don't feel like I have any time at all to spend acquiring more audio files. I am completely occupied with acquiring and organizing video files.

Anyway, I feel very much the same way that you do about the importance of file names and directory names (aka "folder" names). There have been days (sadly, far too many of those days) when I woke up and intended to accomplish a whole bunch of stuff but then just spent the whole day (aka "wasted" the whole day) just organizing my video files. How could I spend a whole day organizing files that I have already organized a hundred times before?

Well, I have a system that I developed for keeping them organized and maybe it's because I use two PCs or maybe it's because I use 5 hard drives, but I usually begin by making sure that all my folders that are supposed to contain the same files, actually do contain the same files. The quickest and easiest way to do that is to first of all make sure those folders are the exact same size. And that alone can take me hours to do before I have them all identical. (it takes time because I have to move files from one folder to another before they are all "in sync").

I don't want to call one of these folders the "original" and the others "backups" because they are so much more than just backups. You see, one of my PCs is in the living room and the other one is in the bedroom. I often have one busy doing stuff in one room and I need to go into the other room for awhile.

So, I will disconnect an external HD from one PC and take it into the other room and connect it to the other PC. Some people might call this HD a "backup". But I sure don't. It is a way that I can move my files from one room to another.

Anyway, I'm telling you all this because I'm now at my wits' end and I'm desperate to find a better way to manage my drives, folders and files. One reason I need to swap drives around is because I often watch video files using an external HD and I often will take one and move it from one room to another.

I hope to post more later. But, I'm just not sure where I'm going with this thread. I feel like this problem has me up against the wall.
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