When you work on projects on both a Mac and a Windows PC, syncing them can prevent problems of multiple versions or missing files. Laplink recently added Mac support to its PCsync 6.0 sync product for Windows (the Mac component is called version 1.0). PCsync can provide secure one-way or two-way syncing with a variety of options. PCsync will move data over one of Laplink’s optional USB cables ($30 or $40 depending on speed), an Ethernet cable, or over a network (which is how I tested the software).
This first Mac version is clearly an add-on to the Windows version. You can only set up and initiate syncs from the Windows PC. The PCsyncHost software that installs on the Mac only provides identification and login options for the PC connecting to it. The software on the PC can sync with a Mac, with another Windows PC, and with multiple computers at the same time. PCsyncHost running on the Mac can only sync with a PC that connects to it, and cannot sync with another Mac. Laplink said that it would add Mac-to-Mac capability in a future version.
Despite this limitation, PCsync 6 has some good things going for it. For one, you don’t have to have file sharing enabled on the computers, making PCsync easier to use than ordinary Mac-to-Windows file transfer. You simply open PCsyncHost on the Mac and click the Share Host button, and PCsync on the Windows PC will see the Mac. With a few mouse clicks you can create a connection to the Mac host and to other PCs on the network. On the Mac PCsyncHost software, you have the option of requiring a password, and you can choose to enable SSL for secure transmittal of data.
Back on the PC, after you create a connection to the Mac, you create one or more sync jobs. A sync job specifies the computers and folders being synced, they type of files, the direction of the sync, any scheduling, and other settings. You can specify what the PCsync will do when it sees the same file on both computers: alert the user, overwrite the file, or skip.
To sync a job manually, select the sync job and click the Sync button in the PC software. PCsync will then display a list of files to be synced.
PCsync has two options for fast syncing of large amounts of data. With SpeedSync turned on, PCsync will move only the portions of files that have changed, a very handy feature if you’re syncing virtual machines. Another option is compression of data being transmitted—decompression is automatic on the other side.
A minor limitation is that only items in the Mac’s home folder can be synced, which means no syncing of external drives connected to the Mac.
One issue I ran into was a high CPU utilization rate—95 percent on a 2.8 GHz MacBook Pro (as measured by Activity Monitor). This was after clicking the Start Host button, even when no transfers were occurring. This can keep the fans whirring on a notebook Mac and could slow things down if you’re running other CPU-intensive applications.
Macworld’s buying advice
If you need secure syncing, or fast syncing of gigabytes of data, PCsync is a good option. But PCsync is mainly a Windows product. If you want to do less advanced syncing from a Mac, or need Mac-to-Mac syncing, try out Eltima Software’s SyncMate Expert (), which can also sync to Windows Mobile devices. Or, wait for a future version of PCsync.