You Synchronize, by You Software
Posted: 28-Feb-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: You Software Type: SHAREWARE

Reviewer: Narinder Dogra Class: PRODUCTIVITY
     
$49.95   Download

Overview
You Synchronize software is for Mac OS X (10.2.6 or later) users who keep files at more than one location and have a need to synchronize those files as and when needed. It will even synchronize files on different platforms under different Operating Systems. "Consolidation" is a simple method of synchronization, but is error prone and may lead to duplicate files or loss of data by overwriting the files. You Synchronize software overcomes these issues with "Time and State" synchronization techniques using CRC32 bit checksums to determine if a file has changed.


Resources used to test You Synchronize

  • Mac 3 (B&W)
  • OS 9.2.2
  • OS 10.2.8
  • Microsoft Word 98 for Mac
  • Dave File Sharing Software between Mac and PC
  • Seagate 9 Gig Internal Hard drive (with Mac)
  • IBM 18 Gig Internal Hard drive (with Mac)
  • Western Digital 30 Gig External (Firewire) Hard Drive with Mac
  • Maxtor 250 Gig External (Firewire) Hard Drive with Mac

  • Dell PC Dimension 2400
  • OS XP Home Edition 2002
  • Microsoft Word 2003
  • Internal Hard drive


Mac/PC Connectivity: Ethernet TPC/IP over Wireless Router (Cisco Linksys)

Pricing
You Software provides both "Buy It" and "Try It" links of their products on their web site. When you download the software, you have 15 days to try out a fully functioning version of the software before deciding to purchase. You can purchase the retail boxed version for $69.95, or purchase a single user license for the download version for $49.95.


Setup
You Synchronize is easiest (and cheapest) to download from the web. Installing You Synchronize is quite simple; after downloading the .dmg file, the file automatically mounts. The installer script automatically copies You Synchronize to your desktop, ejects the volume, and opens the application.

In Use
You Synchronize is very simple to use. In the You Synchronize dialog box under the Settings tab, simply choose a "Local" folder at one location and choose a "Remote" folder at another location, and then click on the synchronization button ("Sync"). The synchronization process changes the contents of the files in the Remote folder if the modifications in the Local folder are more recent, and changes the contents of the files in the Local folder if the modifications in the Remote folder are more recent.


You Synchronize - Local and Remote folder selection



There are a total of fix tabs in the You Synchronize dialogue box, and four primary (aka, always showing) buttons. The
four buttons are Projects, Schedule, Inspect and Sync. The six tabs are Summary, Differences, History, Archive, Settings and About You.

The Buttons

PROJECT BUTTON: The Project button opens and closes the Projects drawer. From the Projects drawer you can create (add), rename, and delete projects. Next to the Projects button is a dropdown arrow to provide quick access to your projects. To save your Local and Remote folders for synchronization for a number of different folders, it is important to create Projects. The top-level folders called Local folder and Remote folders can contain any combination of files and folders for synchronization. Different projects allow you to perform different levels of synchronization without having to re-create the settings each time you want to synchronize.

To synchronize more than one set of folders, you may need to create multiple Projects. If you don't specify a project, your Local and Remote folders are placed in Default Project.

For example, say you have a folder that contains an Excel Spreadsheet. A working copy resides on a Laptop in primary drive and a backup copy on secondary drive of the Laptop, and another copy on the desktop. Your colleagues and other employees may have read-only access to the copy on your desktop for their use. Using You Synchronize, you can set the Local folder to the folder that contains the Excel Spreadsheet on the primary drive and set the Remote folder to the folder that contains the backup copy on the secondary drive. After synchronization, contents of the backup Excel spreadsheet will be identical to the primary Excel spreadsheet. This is becomes your default Project. However, you still need to bring the copy on your desktop up-to-date, so you create a new project, "Project 1", to synchronize the backup copy on the secondary drive to the copy on your desktop.

You may create a number of Projects based on the size (number of different files) and complexities of your folders.

SCHEDULE BUTTON: The Schedule button allows users to perform unattended synchronization (true to its name) on a selected Project (where Local and Remote folders are already identified). You can add, duplicate or delete a schedule (month, day and time of the day), and enable or disable a schedule.

INSPECT BUTTON: The Inspect button gathers information about what will be synchronized prior to performing a synchronization. This gives you an option to see what's going to happen before any files are updated, allowing you to change your mind.

SYNC BUTTON: The Sync button immediately performs synchronization on targeted folders.

The Tabs

SUMMARY: Contains basic information about last synchronization, such as Local and Remote folders, date, time, and duration of the process.

DIFFERENCES: This lists all changes that that could occurr between the files synchronized. There are twelve possible scenarios for synchronization. These show up on Local and Remote folders change list displayed under Differences Tab.

  1. File Unchanged: Files that have not changed are not displayed.
  2. Local File Added: A file added to local folder will be copied to the Remote folder after synchronization. A '+' will appear against the file in Local folder.
  3. Remote File added: A file was added to the Remote folder and will be copied to the Local folder. A '+' appears against the file in Remote folder.
  4. Local File Removed: A file removed from the Local folder will be removed from the Remote folder upon synchronization. A '-' will appear against the file removed in Local folder.
  5. Remote File Removed: A file removed from the Remote folder will be removed from the Local folder upon synchronization. A '-' will appear against the file removed in Remote folder.
  6. Local File Modified: A file modified in Local folder will be changed in Remote folder upon synchronization. A yellow warning sign will appear against the file in Local folder.
  7. Remote File Modified: A file modified in Remote folder will be changed in Local folder upon synchronization. A yellow warning sign will appear against the file in Remote folder.
  8. Duplicate Additions: Different files with the same names have been added to both Local & Remote folders since last synchronization. A red stop sign will appear against these files in both Local folder file lists and Remote folder file lists. These files are not synchronized upon synchronization. The User may by control clicking on the file; select 'Keep This Duplicate Change' will change the status of the file.
  9. Duplicate Removal: A file is removed from both Local and Remote folders and no changes are required upon synchronization. Names of these files are not displayed.
  10. Duplicate Modification: A file modified in both Local and Remote folders will show a red stop against the file name and the will not be synchronized. By control clicking that file (Local or Remote but not both), the user may by selecting 'Keep This Duplicate Change' will change the status of the file.
  11. Local Modification, Remote Removal: A file modified in Local folder but removed from the Remote folder will be copied into the Remote folder upon synchronization. A yellow diamond sign against such file appears in the window.
  12. Remote Modification, Local Removal: A file modified in Remote folder but removed from the Local folder will be copied into the Local folder upon synchronization. A yellow diamond sign against such file appears in the window.


HISTORY: Shows all detailed information of all changes that were made during synchronization and any errors that may have occurred. History files are created in 'You Synchronize Folder' created in the user's Home Directory. All files are plain text. The user may delete any or all of the History files.

ARCHIVE: Allows the user to view the archived files stored in 'You Synchronize Storage' folder created in user's Home directory. The Archive option helps to eliminate any potential data loss during synchronization. Synchronizing files can cause loss of data in two ways:

  1. A deleted file in the Local folder may remove the file from the Remote folder upon synchronization
  2. Modification of a file in Local folder, the file in Remote folder will be updated upon synchronization thus overwriting the old version at the Remote folder (and vice versa).

The deleted files as well as previous versions of updated files are archived upon synchronization.

SETTINGS: The settings tab is the primary working tab in You Synchronize. It allows the user to select the Local and Remote folders whose contents the user wants to synchronize. It lets you set how the synchronization will be handled such as type (one way or two way synchronization, Local Replaces Remote or Remote Replaces Local), comparison (checksum, or file signature, or checksum and modification date, or modification date only), and what files to exclude. Users have the option to select one or all to archive, secure deleted files and/or place deleted files in trash, and more. It also includes an option for "One Button Synchronization".


Two way synchronization means that changes in either locations (Remote and Local) will propogate to the other. In other words, if the Local file is changed, the Remote file is updated during synchronization, and if the Remote file is changed, then the Local file is updated. I should point out here that the Local folder may have numerous files, as well as the Remote folder. However, only those files that are changed are updated. If a file is changed in the Local folder, but not changed in the Remote folder, then the change is made to the Remote folder during synchronization. If a different file is changed in the Remote folder but not in the Local folder, than that change is made to the Local folder. I found that when changes were made to the same file in both the Remote and Local folder, the file in the Local folder overrode the changes in the Remote folder. When updating files in both places, the user needs to be very careful about the way synchronization is applied (see test #6 below).

A few words on excluding files: Selecting a file (in a Project) for exclusion will add the file to an exclusion list. If a folder is selected for exclusion, then all files and folders within that folder will be added to the exclusion list. For example, a user may synchronize an entire User Document folder, but may want to exclude emails or contacts database. It is important to exclude files from both Local and Remote folders that don't need to be synchronized. The files that don't exist in the Local folder, but are present in the Remote folder, will be copied to the Local folder, and vice versa (see test #8 below).

ABOUT YOU: As expected, provides basic information about You Synchronize, such as version, serial number and to whom the software is registered to.

Test Results
Following tests were carried out using a Microsoft Word 2003 document:

  1. Word document on desktop and a copy on Seagate internal drive. Changes were made to document on desktop. Both documents were synchronized. The same changes were indeed carried to the document on internal drive.
  2. Word document on Seagate internal drive and a copy on IBM internal drive. Changes were made to document on Seagate internal. Both documents were synchronized. The same changes were indeed carried to the document on IBM internal drive.
  3. Word document on IBM internal drive and a copy on Western Digital external drive. Changes were made to document on IBM internal. Both documents were synchronized. The same changes were indeed carried to the document on Western Digital external drive.
  4. Word document on Western Digital external drive and a copy on Maxtor external drive. Changes were made to document on Western Digital external drive. Both documents were synchronized. The same changes were indeed carried to the document on Maxtor external drive.
  5. Word document (2003) on PC desktop in a folder. Selected the folder as shared. Mounted this folder using Dave on Mac desktop under OS 10.2.8. Tried to open Word document on the mounted folder using Microsoft Word 98. The document did not open. Saved a copy of document on external Maxtor drive. Restarted Mac under OS 9.2.2. Opened the copy of document external Maxtor drive using Microsoft Word 98. Made some changes to the copy of the document on external Maxtor drive. Synchronized the mounted folder on desktop of Mac (OS 10.2.8) and external Maxtor drive folder containing changed document. In the mean time PC had gone into sleep mode. Opened the original Word document (Microsoft Word 2003) in the shared folder on PC desktop. The original document PC desktop was indeed changed to the copy of the document external drive (Maxtor) to Mac. Cool!
  6. A Word file at Local folder (in Seagate internal drive) was modified and same file at Remote folder (external Maxtor drive) was also modified. Two modifications were not identical. A two way synchronization was selected. After synchronization, file in Remote folder was changed, but file in Local folder was unaffected. Expected results were that the two files would be updated to incorporate changes made in both places. The data in the files are identical, but the modifications in file at Remote folder were not carried to the file at the Local folder. You Synchronize failed this test. I believe the file at Remote folder got changed first to match the file at Local folder. The modifications before synchronization at the Remote folder were overwritten during synchronization. Remote to Local synchronization did not make any difference since the files had already become identical.
  7. A Word file was modified at Remote folder (on external Maxtor drive) only. Synchronization did change the file at Local folder.
  8. A Word file was kept at a Local folder on desktop and a copy was stored at Remote folder in external Maxtor drive. The file in the Remote folder was renamed. Extensive changes were made to both files. Also, five different files were moved to the Remote folder. After synchronization, the changes in the Word file in the Local folder were not incorporated in the renamed file at Remote folder. However, a copy of the Word file was created in Remote folder, and a copy of the renamed file was created in the Local folder. Finally, all five files with various extensions were also created in the Local folder. You Synch appears to treat renamed files as new files.

For the most part, my tests show that this software is quite reliable and very useful. There was a learning curve in determining exactly how and when it performs changes. The User's Guide is a very simplistic "how-to" document. It does not give any details on how various features of this product are implemented. For example, there is one statement where the documentation mentions that modification date is not used in the synchronization process. It states that a "Time and State" technique based on CRC32 bit checksums is used instead. It does not define this technique in any manner the provided me a good understanding of it.

Summary
You Synchronize is a useful tool for synchronizing files at different locations under different platforms, great for people who are always on the move. It provides a fast and easy tool for importing and exporting files between Local and Remote folders in a one-step operation. More than two locations cannot be synchronized in this one-step operation, but can be done using Projects. You Synch keeps track of what changes were made, and to what files. Unmodified files are archived, so you don't have to worry about losing data. The cost of this product is insignificant in comparison to the enhancement it provides in productivity. One should become thoroughly familiar with how it works before committing complete faith, and that does require some computer expertise. For those that with moderate to expert computer literacy, I highly recommend this product.

Pros

  • Productivity enhancement
  • Archives data
  • Good paper trail
  • Great value


Cons

  • Simultaneous two way synchronization failed
  • Novice users may stumble in understanding how it works
  • More than two locations cannot be synchronized simultaneously (must create Projects)
  • User's Guide is inadequate


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice