File synchronization software

I work from home, using local copies of folders that I copy down over a VPN from the office server, and I need to find a good file synchronization solution that will ensure that I copy all my updated files up to the server every day. Right now the system consists of me trying to remember what needs to be updated, with the result of sometimes forgetting to copy something up that someone else needs.

I want to avoid unnecessarily copying large files over the VPN (as would occur if I just selected the whole directory and copied it over). I would also like to know if something has been updated on the server, but not necessarily automatically copy it down since I don’t always actually need that file.

I’m wondering if there is some good free or cheap software out there that will help me automate this process.

I would like something with a “resume” function over the VPN, similar to an FTP client, if that’s possible.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions…

I would suggest using Subverision or some source control programs. Subverision is a bit too cumbersome for non-technical people, though.

Basically, subverision requires a server where the files are store, and each time you make a change to a file, you will ‘commit’ the change. Only what is changed will be updated, so it helps to save disk space, but over time SVN tends to eat up space.

You can, IIRC, get rid of all the old verisions so that you cut down the disk space used. What’s cool about it is that you can revert to any old verison of the file.

But IMHO using Subverision for your situation is something of an overkill.

www.foldershare.com

I use ifolder to automatically keep my desktop and a laptop sync’d with each other and a server (which the IT folks back up independently). It seems to work great.

But I doubt it’s cheap. FWIW.

Subversion (and I’m guessing ifolder) needs a server with a public IP address if you want to use it from home. Or at least it’s going to be a pain to set up otherwise.

There are some “distributed” revision control apps, though. Wikipedia has them here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_revision_control_software

I assume that one of them will work… (I’m not actually sure how the distributed model works, so no promises.)

Several of these might be a bit arcane to use. But in general once you get the concept, so long as there’s a manual everything you need to do boils down to add, checkout, update, and commit.

It’s a bit more geeky than, say, Windows Solitaire, but Unison is pretty nifty for this kind of thing, and it’s free.

You might also find something you like at PortableFreeware’s Synchronization Tools page.

I use Syncback, a very useful freeware app. It’s missing a few advanced features but it’s still pretty powerful for freeware.

You guys are awesome! I’ll look into these different programs and hopefully one will work for my needs. I hate trying to look for software blindly, without recommendations, because I’m always worried I’m going to end up downloading some kind of malware…
“Hmm, looks like this ‘virus.exe’ program does everything I’m looking for! All I have to do is enter in all my credit card numbers and it will take care of eeeeverything.”

Subversion is kind of overkill for just backups. It tracks revisions, allows you to revert a file to any version prior, lets you see modifications per version (for text files and certain Word docs if you have a plugin), etc. It’s intended to track code revisions (as they’re mostly text), and most of the features lean towards that.

That said, if you do go that route, I’d recommend TortoiseSVN on the client end, as it’s quite full-featured and use friendly. If you’re only altering files on one PC, backups would be a single right-click operation.

For bandwidth-friendly backups, I myself use rsync (when I remember to run the script), as it will only back up altered files. There might be Windows ports of it, but I run mine through Samba on a Linux box, so it might not be for you.

FYI, I discovered that this has a limit of 1000 files per synched directory, which means I can’t use it to synch my music directory. Which was pretty much the main thing I wanted to do with it.

I have also since discovered SyncToy from Microsoft, haven’t tried it yet. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/prophoto/synctoy.mspx

I’m using SyncToy for backing up my system to an external hard disk; and it certainly works well for that, but I haven’t used it over a network. It’s pretty fast, and since I don’t modify files too frequently, I’ve got into the habit of running it last thing at night. No more data-loss nightmares. :wink:

OK, now I seem to have no trouble using Foldershare to synch up my music dir, which has much more that 1000 files. Not sure what happened before.