File synchronization utilities

I've finally found a great program for managing data on my desktop and laptop!

My primary system is an Alienware desktop, and then I have a Vaio SZ for when I'm out and about. (Yes, I like nice toys.) I keep my data organized by topic—personal, business, clients, etc.—in folders off the root. This takes care of most of the data, but there are also a few orphans under Documents and Settings such as my bookmarks and iTunes library data, some of which reside in folders where I only want to grab one or two files.

All of this adds up to about 10GB of data that I want to have synchronized when I switch from the desktop to laptop and back. I've used two applications, one paid but worth it, and one free but useful.

These are folder and file sync tools, not database synchronizers. This means they can copy the most recent version of a file like your Outlook PST from one system to another, but they won't look inside that file to copy only updated contacts or e-mail messages. Some applications update their files' date/time stamps when opening or closing the application, so be cautious on your sync routine to run it before or after closing your applications. I also highly recommend carefully testing on a less critical folder pair to be sure you understand what's moving in each direction before going nuts with your whole system.

ViceVersa Pro by TGRMN Software

Fabulous. This is my keeper, well worth $60 for my time savings and peace of mind since I don't have to remember to manually grab my orphan or read-only files. I'm currently using it just for synchronization, though I may start using it for backups instead of the built-in Windows utility.

Good stuff:

  • Full two-way synchronization. Also has options for one-way for backups.
  • Multiple profiles, and each profile can include multiple folder pairings. Within a profile, each folder pairing can have different synchronization settings.
  • Visual preview of the folders and files in a profile, including filters to turn on and off matched, excluded, etc. files and expand/collapse of the tree.
  • Ability to copy entire profiles via Save As, as well as copying folder pairings within profiles, which picks up all your sync options and you just have to change the paths for the new pair.
  • Filters to exclude or include particular subfolders or files. I paired an exclude of *.* with an include of bookmarks.html to grab just one file from a folder.
  • Fast folder scan and sync, even with a data set like mine.
  • When files are to be removed by the sync, options to archive, stash in Recycle Bin, or do full wipe.
  • Manually initiate sync, or set a profile to real-time or a schedule.
  • Synchronizes read only and system files, and can also copy in use files.


  • Dialogs are in geek speak, which can be confusing to people who don't know what NTFS means.
  • Every time you change the folder pairs in a profile it will wipe the tracking database. Not a big issue, just get a profile set once and you'll be in good shape.
  • It defaults to using the same log and tracking database names for all profiles, so when defining your profiles be sure to customize those names.

Microsoft SyncToy

I used this for many months, but its inability to handle my read-only files was a persistent irritation. It has good reliable functionality, just limited bells and whistles.

Good stuff:

  • Free.
  • Full two-way synchronization or one-way clone.
  • Saves your folder pairings.


  • Limited preferences for fine-tuning file handling.
  • Synchronization is initiated manually, either individual folder pairs or all pairs at once.
  • Won't overwrite or delete read only files.
  • Infrequent updates by Microsoft as this is a freebie utility.
  • Windows XP only.

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