If you have more than one computer, or if you store files in multiple locations, you know what a hassle it can be to make sure that you have the most recent versions of files. One of our favorite file-synchronization utilities, ExecutiveSync (
More Mac Software Bargains,” May 2003), was recently purchased by You Software, which gave it a new name, some new features, and a makeover.
You Synchronize takes a project-oriented approach to synchronizing files. A project consists of two folders or volumes — local, remote, or a combination thereof — that you want to keep in harmony; you can create any number of projects, each with different settings. For each project, you choose the type of synchronization — one-way (one folder overwrites the other) or two-way (the newest version of each file is copied to the other folder) — and any particular items or file types you want to exclude.
You Synchronize does more than simply compare documents to each other. It saves information about each file in each project, and then uses this information to determine whether both versions of a document have been modified and to verify that documents are free of errors after synchronization.
You Synchronize’s comparison technology isn’t fooled by differences in file names or by different computer times. It correctly recognized changes to file content but ignored attempts to confuse it by purposely changing computer and file dates and times.
You Synchronize offers features that provide peace of mind to nervous synchronizers. For example, you can use the Inspect mode before you actually sync to see a report of specific actions the program will take; you can even change those actions for individual files. Unfortunately, you can’t select multiple files at a time in this window, which makes changing actions on multiple files tedious.
You can also decide what happens when the utility removes a file from a project folder: the file can be deleted outright, moved to the Trash, deleted securely (overwritten several times to prevent unerase utilities from recovering it), or archived. The archive feature allows you to restore deleted files.
You Synchronize addresses two major problems found in its predecessor. First, it’s significantly faster than ExecutiveSync — although it’s still not as fast as utilities that use only modification dates to compare files, it’s reasonably swift when working with folders or volumes containing thousands of files.
Second, it has added scheduling features via an elegant interface. But unfortunately, these features require that the program be running and both of your project folders be available at the scheduled time. We’d also like to see You Synchronize automatically sync a project when a remote folder is available — for example, when you connect a PowerBook to a network or mount a FireWire drive.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
You Synchronize is a worthy upgrade to ExecutiveSync. It’s still not as fast as some of its competitors, but its comparison methods and data safeguards offset its slower speed. The addition of scheduling functionality eliminates one of our major criticisms of its predecessor, and you can even use it for scheduled, mirrored backups.