Anyway, now that you understand the usefulness of backup software and what they're allows you to do, we'll introduce you to the features offered by FreeFileSync.
Before you begin, you should know that FreeFileSync is free, but it's available in two editions :
In our case, we have made a donation to this site because FreeFileSync is a really good program.
Note that each "Donors Edition" file downloaded is unique, so don't share it.
Recently, the author added the possibility to download future updates of the "Donors Edition" version until a date that depends on the amount of your donation.
A small donation is enough to download this version, but more you give money, more this page will remain available for long. The chart is available in the site's FAQ.
That said, the downloaded program will continue to work after that date.
FreeFileSync is a very powerful, optimized, flexible, ... software. And it's easy to use.
To provide maximum flexibility to its users, FreeFileSync provides the ability to create a configuration file to define :
Note that the configuration file is automatically generated by the program when you change settings through the GUI program.
However, remember to save changes to the configuration file by clicking on the little black floppy nammed "Save".
FreeFileSync supports the backup to :
To backup your data quickly and intelligently, FreeFileSync is able to detect files and folders to backup by making a comparison between sources and destinations directories.
By default, FreeFileSync is based on the date and the file size.
Which can detect 99.99% of files/folders to be updated on the destination media.
However, for flexibility, FreeFileSync also offers you the opportunity to choose between 3 options :
In short, we recommend you to leave the default value "File time and size" that will work for all your backups. Unless, of being in a particular case.
To configure these options, go to the menu : Actions -> Comparison settings.
When you backup data, it may be interesting to exclude some folders and/or files present in the folders that you selected in FreeFileSync.
For example, to exclude temporary folders that it is useless to backup.
To configure these filters, go to the menu : Actions -> Filter settings.
To select the type of synchronization to perform, go to : Actions -> Synchronization settings.
As explained in section 2.2 of this article, it's possible to make a backup in different directions.
As you can see, FreeFileSync offers 4 options :
In the synchronization settings, you will also find an option "Detect moved files" that allows you to move files moved between 2 backups.
This avoids unnecessary deletions and rewrites, but also saves time and preserve the life of your external media (including SSD and USB keys).
By default, for security, FreeFileSync moves the files to delete to the recycle bin.
So, if you misconfigured FreeFileSync, your files will not be lost. You'll just need to go in the recycle bin to restore them to their original locations.
Beyond that, FreeFileSync also allows you to use version management.
This allows you to keep the different states of each backuped file.
This is useful when you program or you develop a website, because in case of bug, you can go back in the backup history to restore the code that was present before the bug.
FreeFileSync allows you to choose between comparison and/or synchronization according to the button on which you will click.
Allowing you to verify that the synchronization will be done correctly.
FreeFileSync offers a button with two arrows to reverse the direction of the backup.
This will allows you to restore your data on your computer from your external support, for example.
Once FreeFileSync installed, you must have noticed that there were 2 new icons on your desktop :
For automatic synchronization with a program, there are advantages, but also disadvantages.
If you are a professional and /or you want to store data securely, the real solution is to configure a RAID 1, 5 or higher.
With this level of RAID, your data will be safe and it's the RAID controller which will handle the creation of two identical copies of your data. This means that your computer will not be slowed. (This is true only for true RAID)
If you are interested in the implementation of a RAID, see our articles :
Since we discovered this backup program, we use it very often and here are some screen shots of the configuration that we use.
In our case, we have several things to backup :
To perform our backup, we used the comparison based on the file time and size (the default selected option).
Then, for filters, we don't use them for the master configuration. Because we want to backup everything.
Except for the "server" folder that contains temporary files and the folder that contains backups of our MySQL database.
Indeed, as you can see in the left list, the "server\SQL Saves" folder is synchronized separately (you'll see why a little later).
Finally, we use the "Mirror" synchronization which allows us to have a backup that corresponds exactly to folders present on our computer.
This means that files created, modified or deleted on our computer, will also be created, modified or deleted in the backup.
Because we only keep recent backups of our DB on our computer, delete one of these backups will also remove it from the external backup.
To avoid this problem, we chose the "Update" synchronization for the "server\SQL Saves" folder.
Thus, new backups will be copied to the external media, but the ones we have removed from our computer will also remain on the external media.
Because this program can compare and synchronize in one or two steps (as you want), we first click on the "Compare" button.
The program displays a list of created, modified and/or deleted files, and what action FreeFileSync will perform on each file.
In our case, you can see that FreeFileSync :
FreeFileSync will also show :
At bottom right, you will have statistics showing you :
To start the backup (synchronization), click on the "Synchronize" button.
This will display a small summary. Click "Start".
Synchronization occurs with a small graph that allows you to track the progress of the backup.
Note that an icon will be present in the upper right during backup and enable you to reduce the program into an icon in the taskbar (next to the clock).
For example, in our case, we have synchronized the folder containing our local web server (apache, php + mysql) and we excluded the "tmp" folder to avoid copying php session files on the external media.
Indeed, this folder contains temporary files that it is useless to backup.
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