The 5 Best File Syncing Apps

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

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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 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, and so on, just as if you were on the device on which you initially uploaded them.

File syncing apps have plenty of uses, and the apps we've chosen work well in all occasions. For example, Dropbox stores your files online so that you can access them anywhere, while Resilio Sync skips servers altogether and syncs via a peer-to-peer connection.

Most of these apps are free, but some require a monthly subscription, especially if you want online storage too.

Dropbox: Access Your Synced Files Anywhere

Screenshot of Dropbox in Windows 8

Melanie Pinola

What We Like

  • You can manually set bandwidth limits

  • Thirty 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

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.

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

Resilio Sync: Sync Any Folder With Any Other Computer

Screenshot of Resilio Sync in Windows 8

Melanie Pinola

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

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 is used to download the files. From there, any changes you make are reflected back to the other computer's original folder.

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

GoodSync: A File Syncing Tool With Tons of Options

Screenshot of the GoodSync file syncing app

Melanie Pinola

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

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

Like most file sync apps, GoodSync keeps 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 and 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 like a P2P file sync program (i.e., no data is stored online).

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.

SyncToy: The Easiest Way to Sync Two Local Folders

Screenshot of the SyncToy file syncing program for Windows
SyncToy.

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

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.

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.

SyncBack: Sync With Online File Storage Accounts

Screenshot of SyncBackPro in Windows 10
SyncBackPro.

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 among the SyncBack options

  • SyncBack Touch is required if you want to sync to another computer off of your network

SyncBack is another syncing application that you install on computers you want to back up and synchronize. Several versions of this program are available, each with different features, including SyncBackFreeSyncBack LiteSyncBackSE, 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 works for business use and includes a USB app, incremental backups, and file versioning; and SyncBackPro can save to DVD with disc spanning, and keep emails backed up.

You can sync your files within your same network, such as 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.