Is there a free Windows utility that will synchronize local directories with a remote one by (S)FTP?
August 8, 2006 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Is there a free Windows utility that will synchronize local directories with a remote one by (S)FTP?

There are some files (HTML, DOC -- small stuff) that I work on at home (on two separate computers) as well as at work. Instead of some flash drive solution or emailing them to myself, I'd like a program that runs in the background on each computer and synchronizes any changes I make to a local directory with one on my FTP site. Does such a thing exist? And: is it free?

A wrinkle: in the situation where the program attempts to upload and somehow discovers a newer version on the FTP site, I'd like for it to ask me what to do.

The key here is automation; if I have to sync manually I will eventually forget and lose track of which machine has the latst copy.
posted by skryche to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
SyncBack (freeware version) looks like it would do what you want it to.

It doesn't do automatic synchronization, as far as I know, but you can schedule it to run at predetermined intervals.
posted by ckemp at 5:27 AM on August 8, 2006

With SyncBack, I'd be worried about turning my computer off before it had a chance to synchronize. I'm hoping to find something that will watch the directory.
posted by skryche at 5:30 AM on August 8, 2006

I asked a similar but not the same question - some of the answers there might be useful. I ended up going for synctoy with lastchance. Lastchance runs things on shutdown, so you can be assured that what you set up runs before you shut down the machine.
posted by handee at 5:42 AM on August 8, 2006

But... I don't always shut down, either.
posted by skryche at 5:59 AM on August 8, 2006

Might I suggest FolderShare. I found it to be rather useful. And it's free. It's a small, unobtrusive application that will keep documents updated on all machines. Make a change to a word .doc at work and it updates your home PC's copy automatically.

You can also have it work with multiple users, such a team of people working on a project at multiple locations (this is what I used it for at work).

You don't need to actively 'run' the sync - it checks every 'x' minutes (seconds?) for new copies and keeps logs of all changes/updates that are made automatically.
posted by MarkLark at 6:08 AM on August 8, 2006

Wow, Foldershare is just about perfect... except that I can't make an FTP site one of the devices, no? I often only have one computer on at once, which means they'd never hae a chance to sync.
posted by skryche at 6:36 AM on August 8, 2006

I reread your original post - it sounds like you're really speaking about 4 locations? (2 home pcs, 1 work pc, and an FTP site somewhere - and any change made on the PCs you want published to the FTP site?) Is the FTP some hosted web space, or an FTP daemon running on one of your machines?

If the FTP is hosted (with FTP being the only way to access the files) then no, I don't *think* FolderShare would work in that fashion. It works somewhat like the following:

- On PC#1, you share a folder - you're asked to give this share a name, we'll call it "MeFi".

- On PC #2, once logged into FolderShare, you can join the "MeFi" share and specify a directory on that machine that you want to synch with the 'MeFi' share on PC #1.

Any file added to or updated on PC #2 will automatically be updated on PC#1, and vice versa. Yes, both machines would need to be on at the same time in order to sync. However, if one PC is off (say you turn off PC #1 while you head off to work), it will update everything that has changed on PC #2 once you boot up (providing that PC #2 is still on at the time.) I suppose you could schedule your work PC to turn off at a certain hour (or your home PC).

While it won't sync with an FTP site, there is an added utility that lets you browse your entire PC via a web interface, which is somewhat like an FTP control. But again, that's for use with an actual PC. In all instances, you have to be able to install the FolderShare application on the machine that is getting updated.
posted by MarkLark at 7:01 AM on August 8, 2006

Forgive me for saying this, but it sounds like you're making the whole thing unnecessarily complicated with the whole, "I might shut it down or I might not thing." Is there a reason you can't just leave them on, perhaps using hibernation to save energy?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:07 AM on August 8, 2006

You could use Syncback, and set it to run as a Scheduled Task (from the Control Panel). Use multiple schedules, and set it so that it will either run every hour (say), or when idle for more than a period of time.

Also, instead of shutting it down, you could create a batch file with this command in it, and run this when you want to shut down the computer, rather than shutting it down from the start menu:

\---path to program---\SyncBack profilename -shutdown

This way, it should sync at least every hour (or more often if you want.

(If you have XP Pro, I think you can configure it to run certain programs on shutdown, which would be simpler than running a batch file.)
posted by Boobus Tuber at 10:56 AM on August 8, 2006

I'd suggest using Unison, it's cross platform and won't eat all of your bandwidth.
posted by iamabot at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2006

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