Desktop is impressed with Folder Synchronizer X for two reasons, and the first is because we’ve never instituted a serious backup regime on a Mac. An extended search for simple Macintosh backup software was fruitless, most Mac solutions are part of larger disk partition management programs that do stuff like administration-level system restores. An application that backs up selected data — and nothing more complicated than that — seemed like a hopeless dream until we came across Folder Synchronizer X.
The second reason we were excited is because a real backup would be easier on our external memory device. You might be simply dragging your files to an external hard drive or iPod to back up, overwriting all the old data. While some USB memory drives are designed to take a lot of punishment in writing and re-writing, some aren’t, and you’re only wearing out your disk arrays quicker than necessary. It’s much better to use a program that selectively scans your data and replaces only what’s been added or updated.
Folder Synchronizer starts with a small, simple window that displays two folders and a button in the centre that reads ‘backup’ or ‘sync’. We can’t actually think of many instances of where you’d want to sync files. If two users are using the same folder it can sync the contents of the folder, but if the contents of various files are different you have to prompt Folder Synchronizer X to keep one or the other, overwriting one of them.
But when using a live file for your work in progress and a target file for everything to be backed up to, it’s seamless. Simply drag the folder you want to back up to the first folder in the display window, and the backup target folder onto the second folder. You can back up as much or as little as you like, selecting single folders of just your fonts, just your photos or even a single client project, and then saving the task as a Folder Synchronizer X file to instigate at any time.
The sample dataset we tested was about 14 gigabytes. Dragging it all to an external memory source took up to 40 minutes on an old G5 and up to 20 minutes on a recent model Intel Core iMac. Depending on the workload of the day Folder Synchronizer X backed everything up in between 20 and 60 seconds.
There are several variables you can apply to each backup such as filters and files to exclude, but the one you’ll use the most is the Conflict options. While synching or backing up, the software deals with conflicts according to your settings to skip, delete the older copy or prompt you to choose the best course of action. There’s a timer option, the Folder Synchronizer’s fully scriptable with Applescript and if you’re still dragging and dropping to overwrite files or — worse yet — still don’t have a backup plan, it’s a small price to pay to save your time, your disk and maybe your business.