Mac OS X provides a great backup utility in Time Machine, but still leaves a gap unfilled: synchronizing files between multiple computers. One of the things I missed after switching from PCs to Macs was SyncToy, a small power tool released by Microsoft’s developers that allowed a user to synchronize files between multiple computers using flash drives, external hard drives, or network drives. For someone who wants to have access to their files on both their work and home computers, and doesn’t want to rely on cloud storage to do that, SyncToy serves an important role. Unfortunately, SyncToy is only available for Windows, so I had to find other ways to fill that gap when I switched to Mac.
Then I learned about GoodSync for Mac when the company sent me a review license.
GoodSync for Mac, by Siber Systems, provides the same functionality on a Mac that SyncToy provided me under Windows. If you add, change, or delete a file from one location, GoodSync will automatically add, change, or delete the same file at the other location. This keeps your computers “in sync” with each other, without relying on cloud storage.
How it works
GoodSync for Mac is a feature-rich product. It provides bidirectional synchronization of your files for true synchronization, or one-way synchronization if you just want a backup solution other than Time Machine. It supports chained synchronization, which means that changes performed by GoodSync can propagate to other computers or devices. In other words, you could synchronize computers A and B, which aren’t connected to each other, by synchronizing Computer A to a USB drive, and then syncing the USB drive to Computer B.
GoodSync’s user interface
GoodSync works quite quickly, analyzing and synchronizing my 18 GB iTunes library in less than 10 minutes. In the meantime, I was responding to emails and writing this article with no performance degradation at all.
While GoodSync is fantastic for syncing files using USB media, it also has the ability to sync over a network, to an FTP or SFTP server, to a WebDAV server, or to the Amazon S3 cloud storage service. Easy to use Exclude and Include filters allow you to custom-tailor your sync job so that only the files you really want synchronized are included.
If you want your sync jobs automated, GoodSync can do that. For each sync job you set up, you can choose a variety of automation options. If you want the job to run at a particular time, you can set a scheduled sync, or you can have GoodSync run the job automatically every so often. You can also configure the job to run when a particular folder is connected, such as when you plug in your USB drive. You can also have the job run whenever you log off. GoodSync’s also synchronization algorithm allows the program to pick up where it left off if something happens to interrupt the operation, such as a power outage, providing some level of reliability to your synchronization and backup jobs.
The program is available for both Windows and Mac, allowing you to use the same program (with the same features) on both operating systems. Siber Systems also sells GoodSync2Go, a version of the product that installs to a USB jump drive.
GoodSync for Mac is a free download, and comes with a 30-day trial. After the trial period, the program is limited to 3 or less sync jobs, and only 100 or less files in each sync job. The Pro version removes these limitations and costs $29.95 for a single license, and $9.95 each for additional licenses.
The online purchase page is very intuitive, easy to use, and secure. The site is a Certified McAfee Secure Site, so it’s subjected to daily security scans by McAfee, Inc.
Installing the software
Installing the program is a breeze - you open the .dmg file, and drag the GoodSync icon to a shortcut to your Applications folder. Once done, you can launch GoodSync and immediately start syncing files.
The online manual is quite comprehensive, yet easy to navigate. The online manual is well indexed, with a table of contents hyperlinked to different topics. The PDF version of the manual, similarly, provides hyperlinks within the document for quick access to topics. Siber Systems has developed a manual that covers every aspect of usage that I can think of, and a few that I hadn’t though of. Unfortunately, the manual is very text-centric, with only a handful of screenshots to illustrate where things are located.
What I liked
The program is fairly intuitive, and does a great job of analyzing what files actually need to be synchronized and what files don’t. It’s robust enough to handle large-scale sync jobs but also easy to use for syncing even just a few files. GoodSync offers a host of choices for how and where to sync your files, supporting local synchronization as well as network synchronization via FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, and Amazon’s S3 storage solution.
Another definite plus of GoodSync is its availability for both Mac and Windows. This makes it handy for people who are forced to live in both worlds, but still want to keep their files synchronized.
What I didn’t like
GoodSync for Mac doesn’t include any built-in documentation. If you want to reference the help manual, you have to access it online (or download a PDF from the web site.) This is, obviously, a fairly minor detail, but it could be a problem if you need to reference the manual and don’t have Internet access. Additionally, as mentioned early, the manual is almost entirely text. Only a few screenshots are used to illustrate the user interface, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to quickly figure out how to perform a certain type of sync job or automate your job. Still, the program itself is pretty self-explanatory and should be easy to navigate for most users.
I also think the initial purchase of GoodSync should include more than just one license. While it’s easy enough to access the files without GoodSync, if your intent is to actually keep files synchronized between two computers, you’re forced to pay the $9.95 for a second license. For a program that’s advertised as enabling file synchronization between two or more computers, it would make more sense (and be kinder to the customer) to provide two licenses with the initial purchase. With that said, it is nice that Siber Systems allows its customers to purchase additional licenses much later, at only $9.95 per license, for people who realize after the fact that they need to install GoodSync Pro on more computers.