Keeping multiple copies of critical files and folders is good practice, but it's usually not very long before small differences begin to creep in. If you don't keep them synced, the differences will pile up until there are too many to mess with. Whatever the reasons you might have for wanting to view the differences between two folders, Compare Advance from BauerApps makes the job easy. This free tool analyzes two folders for differences in content and color-codes the results for easy identification. It can also synchronize and back up your folders. It's customizable and also integrates with Explorer menus.
Compare Advance has an Explorer-style interface with a file menu and toolbar, a left-side control console, and main window with tabbed views. There's a fully indexed Help file, but it's easier just to start using it by browsing to Folder 1 and Folder 2 in the console pane and then applying the appropriate Main Controls: Compare, Stop, Copy, Delete, or Sync. Compare Advance displays file counts and other data in the Statistics window. In the main window, the program presented the folder's contents in color-coded views tabbed Overview, Folder 1 only, Folder 2 Only, Same, and Different. The toolbar not only replicates the basic controls but also accesses folder settings, general options, filters, and searches as well as switching between various layouts, including List, Tree, and Explorer views, and toggling open the log file.
We started by selecting our two folders using the program's unique double file browser, which not only has duplicate tree views for selecting Folder 1 and Folder 2 but also check boxes for selecting subfolders and root files and excluding archived folders. Pressing Compare produced results almost instantaneously. The program groups Same and Different files together in expandable tree views that show the size and date differences between two identically named files. Right-clicking any entry let us select a range of actions from a pop-up menu, including Compare files, Set source, Hide, Copy, and Delete, and also open properties sheets. Clicking Synch called up a dialog with many options for setting up what to synchronize and in which direction. All in all, an excellent utility.