The 5 Best File Syncing Apps

Keep your information backed up and up-to-date across multiple devices

cloud computing
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A file syncing app is a service or program that offers a convenient way to automatically synchronize your files across more than one computer and/or mobile device. Anywhere you're logged in to the file syncing app, the same files are available for you to open, edit, copy, stream, etc., just as if you were on the same device that initially uploaded them.

For example, if you have the same file syncing app installed on your home computer and work computer, anything you put into the folder, at either location, is automatically copied to the other computer. Log in to the mobile app and the same files are available on your smartphone or tablet.

You might use a file syncing app to bring your work home with you without having to install a file backup program or use a P2P file sharing service. Or maybe you like to stream music to your phone when you're away from your laptop but you don't want to make duplicates on both devices. If you're always sharing pictures and videos with friends over email, you could all use a file syncing app to seamlessly connect to each computer to avoid email (which usually has a file size limit)

There are many other reasons to use a file syncing app, but no matter why you want one, the apps we've chosen below are perfect options for any occasion. Most of these apps are free but some require a monthly subscription, especially if you want online storage, too.

Screenshot of Dropbox in Windows 8

Melanie Pinola

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services, and for good reason. Anything you put into your Dropbox folder gets backed up online and downloads to any other device that's logged in to the same account.

In other words, Dropbox is a file sync utility because the folder on your computer in which you can store files is replicated to all of the computers and mobile devices that your account is connected to.

What We Like:

  • You can manually set bandwidth limits
  • 30 days of undo history to recover deleted or changed files
  • All files are encrypted on the Dropbox website
  • Files can be uploaded to and downloaded from the Dropbox website (without needing to use the app)

What We Don't Like:

  • Data must be stored online first in order to sync to other devices

Works With: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android

Dropbox is free for the first 2 GB of data. You can pay for more storage with the Plus or Professional plan, which offers 1 TB and 2 TB, respectively.

Screenshot of Resilio Sync in Windows 8

Melanie Pinola

Resilio Sync (previously called BitTorrent Sync) is a peer-to-peer synchronization program 

Unlike Dropbox where you have to put every file you want to sync into the Dropbox folder, Resilio has you pick folders on your computer that will be synced to your other devices. For example, select your iTunes folder to share all your music between your different computers.

When you accept a folder share from another computer, you get to pick which folder on your computer will be used to download the files. From there, any changes you make are reflected back to the other computer's original folder.

What We Like:

  • Your files are not stored online
  • You get to choose which folders to sync
  • Each folder can have its own permissions: read-only or read and write
  • No user account is needed; data is synced by special links or codes
  • Bandwidth control options are available
  • You can change the listening port
  • Encrypted folders can be created and synced

What We Don't Like:

  • Can't access your files from a web browser because they aren't stored online

Works With: Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD

Some features like selective syncing to sync only certain files from a folder, are only available if you upgrade out of the free version of Resilio. 

Screenshot of the GoodSync file syncing app

Melanie Pinola

If you're looking for a file syncing program with the most options and greatest flexibility, you can't go wrong with GoodSync. There are tons of options you can customize and it works seamlessly between both desktop and mobile devices.

Like most file sync apps, GoodSync will keep two folders in sync with each other. However, you can take it a step further and connect the program to your phone to back up your photos/videos automatically, or to send files from your computer to your phone on a schedule.

Unlike most file sync software programs, GoodSync lets you connect to a variety of locations in addition to your computer folders, like FTP servers and cloud storage services. If you don't use an online service, then GoodSync works as a P2P file sync program (i.e., no data is stored online).

What We Like:

  • Lots of options
  • Supports folders from a variety of locations
  • Filtering options let you exclude subfolders from a sync
  • Can sync files to and from your phone
  • Each device can browse through files on all the other connected devices
  • Also works as a one-way sync, backup service
  • Supports encryption and bandwidth control

What We Don't Like:

  • Can get confusing with all the available settings

Works With: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android

The free version of GoodSync has some limitations like a maximum number of files that you can sync for any single job and a maximum number of jobs you can make in any one account.

You can buy GoodSync to get more features beyond the free version. For example, you can get GoodSync2Go to use on a portable device like a flash drive.

Screenshot of the SyncToy file syncing program for Windows
SyncToy.

SyncToy is like a lesser version of the other syncing apps from above. It lets you keep two folders in sync but doesn't span across multiple networks.

In other words, The SyncToy file syncing program is handy if you like to keep a copy of your files in two locations like on your local hard drive and a flash drive, or on your external hard drive and a computer on your same network.

A practical use for SyncToy might be to pair your Music folder with Dropbox so that any changes you make to your music collection will automatically be copied over to Dropbox for online backup.

What We Like:

  • Completely free with no limitations
  • Really easy to set up
  • Lots of optional settings like file, subfolder, and file attribute exclusions
  • Supports not only synchronize but also echo and contribute, two other ways to keep two folders in sync

What We Don't Like:

  • Works on Windows operating systems only
  • Only Windows 7, Vista, and XP are officially supported
  • Can't sync to computers outside your local network

Works With: Windows

Tip: You can download a 32-bit or 64-bit version of SyncToy. Click the x86 option for 32-bit, or x64 for 64-bit.

Screenshot of SyncBackPro in Windows 10
SyncBackPro.

SyncBack is another syncing application that you install on computers you want to back up and synchronize. There are several versions of this program that you can use, each with different features, including SyncBackFreeSyncBack Lite, SyncBackSE, and SyncBackPro.

All versions of SyncBack let you sync select files and folders, back up to FTP, compress files, and set other basic options. However, SyncBack Lite also supports copying locked files; SyncBackSE can be had for business use and includes a USB app, incremental backups, and file versioning; and SyncBackPro can save to DVD with disk spanning, and keep emails backed up.

You can sync your files within your same network, like to another drive on your computer or a shared folder on a different computer. You can also sync your files to an online account like Dropbox or Google Drive. To sync to another computer not in your network, you have to buy SyncBack Touch.

In short, SyncBack is a powerful software application with many other backup and syncing features.

What We Like:

  • It's free if you don't need the extra features
  • Lots of advanced customizations
  • Can be used to back up, sync, or mirror files and folders
  • You can sync with a variety of folders: FTP, Amazon Drive, Backblaze, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, SugarSync, and more

What We Don't Like:

  • macOS and Linux users can only use SyncBack Touch
  • SyncBack Touch is required if you want to sync to another computer off of your network

Works With: Windows, Linux, macOS