SyncBack Freeware

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CNET Editors' Rating 5.0 stars

Spectacular

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Good for advanced users but needs some refining."

    November 16, 2011  |   By victor-bailey

    Pros

    Free, advanced features.

    Cons

    Not very intuitive for new users. Error code system needs refining.

    Summary

    I have used Syncback for three years now. You can get the job done with it, but there is an initial steep learning curve to get started. Syncback give you a lot of a control options right up front. But all these options can be overwhelming to new users who are just looking for a one button approach to backing up their photo album to their external hard drive.

    My main qualm with synback is the error code system. Synchronizing files seems simple enough, but with the millions of file types, and file and network permissions, there are just so many variables that something is bound to go wrong. And when something does go wrong (which is almost always), sync back give you an error code. Syncback does not tell you what is wrong; it just tells you that something is wrong. The codes it gives you are as useless as the the check engine light on your car. You can try to ask the experts, but they have no more idea of what's wrong then you do.

    I recently tried to back up my entire photo album (150 GB) to an external drive. After the operation was done, syncback issued a log showing that about 500 files could not be synchronized. This is not the first time I have seen this error code either. The error code it gave for all 500 files was "Access Denied" (mostly jpg files). After days of trouble shooting I went looking for help from syncback. Since I was using the free version I did not qualify for technical support and was told to try the syncback user forums for help. After a few days of posting and following advice with no results, I was finally told by a senior syncback user that there was no way to know what was causing the access denied error because it could be caused by thousands of different issues. Why even have an error code like that? I have been told the same thing about the check engine light on my car. Again I say, why even have a warning system if it does not tell you what is wrong?

    So, after all the trouble I went to through to try and find out how to fix the problem and coming up dry; I decided to try another file synchronization program. I downloaded FreeFileSync from cnet and tried it. It is so much easier get started with. FreeFileSync only showed about ten errors (not 500 like SyncBack). But this time instead of giving me a useless indecipherable error code, FreeFileSynce actual gave me a detail description of what the problem was. The files that cause the errors were system files like, thumbs.db (The files that caused the errors on Syncback were jpg files). The error code that FreeFile Sync gave was this, "Win32 Error: The process cannot access the file because another process has locked a portion of the file". So, FreeFileSync, told me what was wrong. Where as SyncBack just told me that there was something wrong with their error code "Access Denied".

    FreeFileSync also give you a side by side explorer type view of your synchronized folders with a button function down the middle that allows to manually copy files over individually and in either direction.

    After three years of pulling my hair out with Syncback, I say "Good by SyncBack, Hello FreeFile Sync!".

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