The joy of file synchronisation with Allway Sync Pro

I’m an itinerant developer armed with a laptop which means I have to deal with the issue of keeping my files synchronised with my file server.  Source code is easy, it’s under version control.  That leaves items such as documentation, Outlook PST files and MSDN downloads which are way too big and way too binary for version control systems.

For years I've been synchronising my files with a set of Windows Briefcase folders, when they came in with Windows 95.  They worked fairly reliably.  I put up with the agonizing delay to open a briefcase when the network drive was no longer connected – think 30 second timeouts on every folder being opened while it ‘checked the file status’.  However, it was Vista that was the nail in the coffin, it supports briefcases but file access rights become an issue on dual boot systems.

So I bit the bullet and looked for a file synchronisation tool.  I decided that I would happily pay for this software.  For me, I consider this is an essential business application, so paying for it is not an issue.  I also decided to change my work methods, instead of dragging a laptop around, I would carry around one of my portable hard drives, based on an 80Gb notebook drive, powered over USB, much easier to carry than a laptop (and less expensive if you drop it).

So I was after a many to many copy utility that would make sensible decisions, warn me if there were conflicts, and more importantly, once configured, be a one button fire and forget solution. After researching free products (PowerToys sync included) I found a product called Allway Sync Pro, http://www.allwaysync.com/.  I’ve now been using it for about a month, which allows me to make a considered judgement.

It’s brilliant.  Truly, it’s really, really, really good software.  I can’t believe it only costs $12 a PC (for 5 PCs).

OK, the UI design is a bit messy and old fashioned looking, but it actually does everything that you expect, and sometimes things you didn’t expect (good things).  This is a tightly focused piece of software that has a clear set of functionality in which it excels.

An unexpected feature was that it properly ‘deletes’ files it updates so they are put in the recycle bin.  At some point I must take a look at some of the more fancy options, such as how it can automatically synchronise files when you logon and logoff.

So now, before I leave my office, on my Windows Server 2003 file server I synchronise my server files to the portable hard drive.  Back home, I plug in the same hard drive and synchronise to Windows XP Pro.  Back in the office I also run a copy under Windows Vista that synchronises files from the C: drive to my file server.

So in summary, for me this is now an essential application for my business and is that rare beast - a technology solution which actually delivers what it promises and makes your life easier. 

I also think it’s a clear example of what software developers should strive for in their own software – reliable, functional, focussed on a clearly defined task, simple to use and intelligent in how it operates. I would hope that software I create can be as good as this - although probably with a better UI design,

Print | posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2008 8:41 AM

Comments on this post

# re: The joy of file synchronisation with Allway Sync Pro

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Have a look at foldershare.com - free M$ utility that I can't live without.
And the new Mesh.com - you need to apply at the moment as it is still a tech preview
Left by Pieter on Apr 25, 2008 1:30 PM

# re: The joy of file synchronisation with Allway Sync Pro

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I like the idea of hosted files - if I didn't I wouldn't have my version control and project management on a hosted service.

However, while the online solutions are good for documents/photos etc. I'm not convinced they are the best idea for 300 Mb Outlook PST files.

I also like the idea of having physical copies of my files on my file server, my hard drive and my various laptops. In addition to weekly hard drive backups, there is generally a copy of my files lying around somewhere.

Good tip though.
Left by Liam Westley on Apr 30, 2008 11:40 AM

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