08 July 2007

#28: Syncing Spirits

Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away, goes the lovely jazz standard. It seems like only last week that I wrote about Allway Sync, a free file synchronization utility (see #27). Now, after the passage of so much time, I feel obligated to update my recommendations.

Sync Hole?

When I looked again at my posting about Allway Sync (#27), I noticed that one of the Google advertisements alongside it was for GoodSync, another synchronization tool. Like any good Tool Bar & Grill reader, I clicked on the ad to see what it was all about. What I saw surprised and mystified me.

Like Allway Sync, GoodSync also is free for personal, nonprofit use. The paid version costs $19.95, just like Allway Sync Pro. Nothing strange about that. But what about the two products’ absolutely identical logos and tag lines (“File synchronizer that works”)? Or the eerily similar wording of the product descriptions on the two Web sites, and the nearly indistinguishable legalese of the two license agreements? Even the two technical support ticket systems are identical except for the product names.

Allway Sync is published by Usov Lab of Virginia; GoodSync is published by Siber Systems, who also publish RoboForm, the well-known password management utility – also of Virginia. And both products are clearly of Russian origin. Is there a connection? (Why we should care is another question; I’m just curious.)

So how good is GoodSync? It seems to work just about the same way as Allway Sync. However, GoodSync does not offer a portable version like the Allway Sync ’n’ Go that I am using. And it is more strictly limited: the free version works only for up to three jobs of 100 or fewer files each.

GoodSync’s interface is a bit simpler and clearer, presenting fewer options, but also a bit prettier:

GoodSync also appears to be a worthy rival (or cousin?) to Allway Sync. Try it out for yourself by clicking the ad alongside this text, or go to http://www.goodsync.com.

That Syncing Feeling

I also was reminded this week of another file synchronizing tool that I should not have forgotten: Microsoft’s own SyncToy. It’s part of the PowerToys utility suite for Windows XP and Vista that Microsoft provides for free (at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx) but does not officially support. (My thanks go to the excellent Windows Secrets newsletter, whose premium edition mentioned both SyncToy and GoodSync this week.)

So how much fun is SyncToy? Less than Allway Sync or GoodSync, although it does not impose any limits on free use as they do. For starters, SyncToy requires Microsoft’s heavy, but increasingly unavoidable, .Net 2.0 Framework. After you set up one or more folder pairs, you’ll have to choose the type of action to perform: synchronize, echo, subscribe, contribute, or combine. These complex choices actually provide only a few more options than Allway Sync’s and GoodSync’s simpler approaches.

SyncToy’s interface is attractive, but much less informative than the others:

To see the files that SyncToy plans to process, you have to click Preview. But you see all the files in one list, rather than in left and right folders. This makes it much harder to figure out what’s going to happen when you click the Run button:

I can’t evaluate or compare the various utilities’ synchronization algorithms, but in the end they all synchronized my simple lists of files correctly. So I’m sticking with Allway Sync because of its portable version and the less-stringent limits on its use for free.

Thanks for bearing all the "syncing" puns, which are included in the service at Jonathan’s Tool Bar & Grill. Feel free to comment below or to jonathanstoolbar@gmail.com. And come back next week with all your friends!


  1. For another perspective on syncing, check out this link: http://www.ifilm.com/video/2698793

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Very good post. I'm Archangel from GOTD's forum. I noticed your thread and clicked your name to come to your blog.

    But an Attorney,,,,hehehe I'm a retired Chief of Police.

    See you later

  4. Hi! I've been using both sync toy and allway sync. But stopped using sync toy when I did a test run on the same set of folders and sync toy missed some files that allway sync correctly identified them as modified.

    I haven't had the time to make another controlled test trying to reproduce the error, but in the meantime I don't trust sync toy at all.

    The versions tested:
    Allway Sync 6.1.6

    PS: great blog!, came in due to your post on GOTD ;)

  5. Great blog. I originally used SyncToy v1.4 and then discovered Allwaysync free which worked fine for a month after which I was forced to buy the Pro version (exceeded 20000 files in sync jobs). I have been faithful user of Allwaysync for past 2 years and very happy. Being a Roboform user, Goodsync got installed for free (basic version) to allow Roboform to sync with online copy. As you said, Goodsync has simple interface but I will stick with my paid copy of allwaysync rather than invest again in Goodsync Pro.