ChronoSync 3.0

Whether you need to back up your Mac or synchronize files among multiple Macs, Econ Technologies’ ChronoSync 3.0 is a potent but friendly tool that will let you get the job done. On Jaguar, Panther, or Tiger, it duplicates and restores data with surgical precision.

ChronoSync’s drag-and-drop interface lets users easily designate source and target volumes, then match or duplicate individual files, folders, local drives, networked drives, and even files stored on iPods. ChronoSync lets you save and schedule multiple custom syncs - for example, one to back up your hard disk on the first of each month, and another to sync your Address Book and Office documents between your desktop and laptop Macs every Friday. You can simply copy files from one drive to another, or match files between two drives.

It takes just a few clicks to schedule a saved sync. The scheduler appears as an icon in your Mac’s menu bar, and runs one-time, daily or weekly syncs, even when ChronoSync is not running or the computer is asleep. The menu can list upcoming syncs and suspend or resume scheduling.

Synching files is reasonably fast and efficient; a first-time manual sync took 13 minutes and 30 seconds to compare more than 78,000 files and transfer a gigabyte of data. A subsequent scheduled sync ran on time, found no changes from the previous run, and took only seconds. ChronoSync’s help files are thorough and well written, offering clear solutions for any potential problems.

Version 3.0 offers impressive new capabilities for customizing syncs. “Blind” and “biased” syncs let you specify which duplicate files on each volume get deleted during a sync. The new data validation feature ensures that your information has transferred correctly. Version 3.0 also adds Rules, which let you easily match files by name, extension, file size, or last-modified date, among others; it’s a lot like creating a Smart Playlist in iTunes. You can even trigger a sync automatically every time a file size or modified date changes within your source or target.

The enhanced Analysis view now lets users compare the contents of their entire source and target volumes, down to last-modified dates and permissions for individual files. Want to sync an entire directory but leave out a handful of documents? The Analysis view makes it easy to include or exclude specific files with a few clicks. It was annoyingly sluggish in loading and scrolling when I first ran it on my 1GHz iBook G4, but it worked much better on subsequent runs.

ChronoSync 3.0 touts an upgraded graphical interface among its new features. While the program is logically organized and easy to use, it lacks the visual polish Mac fans have come to expect. Several icons look rough-edged and dull — a minor complaint given ChronoSync’s overall quality.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

For small offices or big households that need to keep far-flung data safe and organized, ChronoSync is an outstanding value. Its features equal or surpass more expensive programs such as Retrospect (   , June 2004 ). Users with simpler needs can safely stick with free alternatives like Bombich Software’s Carbon Copy Cloner (   ).

[ Freelance writer Nathan Alderman wishes he could analyze, filter and synchronize his brain as easily as he does his computer. ]

ChronoSync’s Analyze pane lets you compare files on your source and target volumes, while a handy pop-up window lets you schedule upcoming synchronizations.

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