December 04, 2008, 12:25 PM — PC file synchronization tools have been around since users needed to sync files on their floppy disks to their new-fangled hard drive. I liked them in theory in the past, but needed them to do something more than sync local files to other local folders. Now, with products like GoodSync and BeInSync that handle local and remote syncing including backup, these tools have really become useful.
GoodSync and BeInSync approach the remote storage and synchronization issue from different directions. Happily, both now offer excellent local and remote synchronization, along with real online backup in BeInSync's case.
GoodSync spent most of its existence synchronizing local files and folders, a useful but more limited utility. They recently added the ability to sync with folders on FTP and Web servers. You can now sync local files on your computer with another computer folder or two on storage appliances or other personal computers, and send those same files offsite for redundant storage. Think of this as a limited offsite backup system, since GoodSync doesn't seem to offer file generation support and a separate restore function. If you lose a file, or overwrite the contents you need, on your computer, you can retrieve the original using the synchronization process.
BeInSync focused on remote sync connections over the Internet early on. I did a story before on an earlier version, interviewing a real estate agent who synchronized his current contracts documents with his assistant's computer back in the office. If either one of them made a change, the other person's files were synchronized automatically (he used a cellular data network connection for his laptop).
Good, but not backup, That's why I was glad to see BeInSync offer a real online, offsite backup option to their service. Now they offer the best of both worlds: sync and backup. Handy.
GoodSync sells their software and you install it on involved systems. BeInSync uses a SaaS model to host the connections between systems and handle the online backup chores. Either way, file synchronization has come of age by integrating the Internet and good backup options.