Syncing Folders on a Mac

Running several Macs can get a bit hectic after a while so I started to research syncing folders.  This in theory is a great concept.  Download a new album by Eminem and save it in my music folder. Next my system automatically copies it over to my “backup” system in a replica folder just like my music folder.  Easy right?

Well I’ve decided to blog my experience at trying to do this.  I’ve never attempted to do this before so this is a new adventure so to speak. Without further adeue, let’s get into it.

I’ve created one folder on my desktop called BETA_ROOT_FOLDER and one on my server called BETA_BACKUP_FOLDER. I placed a few MP3’s into the root folder.

After googling around for a bit, I tried finding a solution using AUTOMATOR, the built in app that comes installed with Mavericks, but moved on to something a little easier.  I found Sync Folders Free. A free app I originally found on MacUpdate. I’ve linked directly to the developers site in case you were interested in the Pro Version as well. Installed it and was given a simple looking menu.

I named my task name Beta Folder Sync Process, clicked on Folder A and selected my _BETA_ROOT_FOLDER folder. clicked on Folder B and selected _BETA_BACKUP_FOLDER. I left Sync move to A<+>B.  Didn’t really tweak much else.  Clicked on Synch Current Task. After a few seconds it was done.  The folders automatically synced!

I did one test with 4 mp3 files. Absolutely successful.  I then did another test with 3 movie files. MP4, much larger then the mp3 files. Successful as well. I then deleted one of the synced movies in order to see what happens if files already exist in the target directory. Again, successful.  So far so good.  As a one time function this seems rather powerful and simple to operate.

However, planning on using this to keep backups of my movie and mp3 files, it seems that this version of Sync Folders does not support storing a “task” as they are called.  I looked at the Pro version and it appears that it is a more robust version of the free one.  For only $7.99 it seems like a very good deal if it does what is promises.  Before I purchase the PRO version, I am going to attempt to sync 2 mp3 folders.  They are rather large so I’m interested to see how it handles large sync’s.

I selected my two directories, double checked all the settings and clicked Sync Current Task.  It immediately started reading the first folder and started counting all 182 thousand mp3’s that I have.  In literally what seemed like 15 seconds, it was done analyzing it and began syncing the folders.  It indicated that there were 1118 files that needed to be synced and began to transfer files. Fortunately I’m running external drives with USB 3.0 so the transfers are pretty decent. I’m not techy enough to tell you the transfer rate and all that, but it copied the entirety of those files in under 4 minutes. Now to check the folders to see if they are in fact the same size…. Folder A = 356.82 GB, Folder B = 356.3 GB. So somewhere along the way .52 GB went missing.

After looking through them both, the sync created 2 extra folders. _DelSyncFiles on each folder. I am going to delete both of them and see what happens. I’m assuming that it took duplicates, or extra files and put them in the _DelSyncFiles folder in each folder.  Immediately after doing that, both folders equaled 356.3 GB. Sync Success!!

From what I see, this will do exactly what I want it to do, for the most part.  What it looks like it won’t do is automatic backups say every Sunday night at midnight.  I believe the PRO version does have timed backups, but more reading must ensue. Awesome. In the first paragraph of the PRO version it indicates that you can do Real Time Sync, Schedule or Manually do a sync.

VERDICT: For most Mac users, the free version seems to be well worth the download.  I am buying the PRO version simply so I can set it and forget it.  That way I can have backups of my backups.