Never Forget a Backup
Peer Software's Save-N-Sync simplifies a tedious task.
The hard drive in my notebook makes an all too unsettling sound from
time to time. It's just about my only reminder to back up critical files
on my notebook—and I do need reminders! Unfortunately, it often happens
when I'm not in my office or when I don't have my USB hard drive handy.
In my case, I have a server that I can back up my files onto—or,
more precisely, I have an offline copy of one of the network shares. That
means I have relative assurance that my files will be backed up to the
server the next time I connect. However, setting up and maintaining offline
files is more difficult than what most users will tolerate, and it only
works if you have a server you can connect to occasionally. What about
those remote sales people who don't ever connect directly to the office?
Peer Software's Save-N-Sync software answers the questions of complexity
and server connectivity. Setting up Save-N-Sync requires a few straightforward
steps. It also allows you to make a synchronized copy to local media,
meaning that you don't need to have the server around.
Save-N-Sync can be run at startup shutdown or on demand. The desktop
version can run at timed intervals, and the workstation version can even
perform real-time monitoring. The upshot of this is that the application
can remember to run for you—you don't have to rely on your memory.
Setting up Save-N-Sync is a snap. Once you register your version of the
software, you're prompted to enter the source and target directories to
be synchronized. The target can be any drive the computer can see, including
both network drives and attached storage. In my case, a USB-attached hard
drive worked wonders. Once the folder is selected you can add additional
folders or change the way the synchronization occurs.
The standard and desktop versions can only synchronize one directory,
but the workstation product can synchronize three directories. The corporate
product can synchronize five. If you keep all of your files in one directory
structure you can synchronize that root folder and Save-N-Sync will automatically
re-create the directory structure for you. When that isn't possible, you
can use the more expensive versions to allow you to synchronize more directories.
Once you've selected the directories, you select the type of synchronization.
By default, a standard synchronization is selected. This copies all the
files from the source directory to the target directory. Other options
allow you to synchronize all files between the source and target directories;
copy the files in the source to the target and delete the files in the
target that aren't in the source; or make the target match the source,
even if it causes newer files to be overwritten. In the case of a backup,
you can stick with the standard synchronization or select "replicate source
to target" to automatically delete files in the target that are deleted
in the source.
|Save-N-Sync's main window makes the process clear
cut. (Click image to view larger version.)
Once the settings are in place, click Run Now and the synchronization
starts. The status is displayed in the lower half of the dialog; if any
errors are encountered, such as files being in use, they pop up in a separate
window. Typically, these errors are the result of another program having
a lock on the file, preventing it from being copied. You'll get the best
results if you close all programs before you start the synchronization—this
won't be a problem if you ultimately decide to run the synchronization
In addition to the user interface and the ability to run the program
at startup or shutdown, the activities can be scripted. If there's something
that you just can't do with the user interface and you need to piece together
a few other steps, you can script Save-N-Sync to perform the synchronization
process for you in the middle of a more complex process. Take, for example,
the notebook that has a SQL database installed. You can't synchronize
the database file itself; however, you can run a backup of the database
to a file and place it within the directories to be synchronized. Therefore,
you can create a script that first backs up the database into a file in
the synchronized directories then runs Save-N-Sync to copy the appropriate
directories and, as a result, the database backup file.
Ultimately Save-N-Sync can be the utility that helps you and your users
back up notebooks or the utility that can help you with a troublesome
application that doesn't want to be backed up.
Robert Bogue, MCSE, has contributed to more than 100 book projects and
numerous other publishing projects. Robert is a technical consultant for
Crowe Chizek in Indianapolis. His latest book is Mobilize Yourself! The Microsoft
Guide to Mobile Technology (is available wherever books are sold. He is also a frequent contributor to CertCities.com.