A good two months ago—or perhaps not so good, from his point of view—the long-suffering Richard Krueger of SS|PR contacted me about GoodSync Enterprise, the new corporate version of GoodSync Pro, a consumer tool that’s been around since 2006 but about which I hadn’t written before. (So much software, so little time.) It was a good press release: nobody was excited, and the quote from a VP contained relevant information. I was particularly struck by this passage:
Extremely flexible, GoodSync Enterprise can intelligently recognize storage devices and tie specific jobs to specific USB disks; for example, all marketing materials can be synchronized with a thumb drive, while all PowerPoint presentations and Access databases are synchronized with a portable hard drive. Workers in different departments, different geographic locations, at a worksite, or who are telecommuting or on a mobile device, all have access to the right files in their proper context. Furthermore, jobs linked to devices recognized by GoodSync Enterprise can be set up to start automatically once each device becomes available.
There’s just one problem: I’m not in a position to test enterprise software. There’s no way I could test mass deployment or Active Directory integration, and if I could, most of my readers wouldn’t care. This is a blog about backup for small and home office computer users.
So Richard suggested I take a look at the consumer product instead, which I eventually managed to do. I thought I’d try GoodSync 2Go, the portable version, instead of installing yet another backup program on Enna. Besides, it seemed to make sense to run a sync tool from a memory stick. It saves installing the thing on multiple machines. GoodSync 2Go normally costs $39.95, which is $10.00 more than GoodSync Pro or GoodSync for Mac, but as of this writing (February 19, 2010), it’s on sale for $19.95.
Since GoodSync 2Go takes up less than 10 MB when installed, you don’t need a large memory stick for it. But you may find it a bit confusing once you finish installing and run the program. Unlike a lot of today’s tools, GoodSync doesn’t have any wizards or pre-set configurations. Fortunately there is a manual in tolerably good English online.
GoodSync’s basic unit of operation is the job. A job is either a backup job, meaning GoodSync copies the data from left to right, or a sync job, where data gets copied in both directions (usually replacing older files with newer ones). You need to create a new job for each location you want copied. In that sense, GoodSync works just like Karen’s Replicator or SyncBack.
GoodSync copies files to and from a wider range of sources and destinations, however. Your choices for each are My Computer (any local drive), My Network (any network drive or computer you have permission to access), FTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3, SecureFTP, and WinMobile. (I presume that if you get the Mac version, that last option is different.)
My first test was to sync Outlook PST files between Enna (the 17” laptop I use for most of my work) and Mena (the netbook I take with me to events and when traveling). All that happened was that I overwrote the older PST file on Mena with the newer one on Enna. No great loss there—I can retrieve the few messages I might have had stored on Mena but not on Enna (replies I made while out of the house) from the Rebit. But GoodSync is not the answer to my wish to keep my two Outlook calendars in sync (the mail is much easier). Oh, well.
For the second test, I decided to back up some files to my Amazon S3 account. (You’ll be hearing more about S3 next week, too.) It took a minute to figure out how to get logged in properly and create a new “bucket”, but once I did that, the backup job ran smoothly and quickly. (It wasn’t very large.)
Once you’ve created a job with GoodSync, you can automate it by clicking the little “Auto” button (the one that looks like a clock). The portable version lacks some of the scheduling options of the regular version, presumably because you won’t always have your USB key plugged in, but you can still schedule the job to run On GoodSync Start, On Folders Connect, On Logoff, or Periodically in increments of hours and minutes.
You can set filters to exclude or include certain files or file types, decide whether the program should “propagate” your deletions (why the default is “yes” on a backup job, I couldn’t begin to say), keep previous copies of your files, and run scripts before or after you run GoodSync. All in all, it’s a fairly sophisticated program, even if it doesn’t synchronize individual Outlook items.
As its name implies, however, GoodSync is designed mainly as a synchronization program. It can make a perfectly adequate file-level backup program, but you’re probably not going to want to pay for it unless you want its multi-source, multi-destination sync capabilities.
If you want something that will just take all the data on your machine and back it up in one fell swoop with no brain activity involved on your part, this is not it. Go back and read about the Rebit SaveMe. But a no-brainer backup device can’t do what GoodSync does, either. They’re different jobs. Sometimes you need one thing, and sometimes another.