Robust data synchronization in an easy-to-use program

Computerized solutions to ensure that an organization's documents, spreadsheets, and databases are kept current haven't flooded the marketplace. Now a new file synchronization utility, an updated version of Software Pursuits' SureSync, can mirror or copy files between two or more locations to provide a robust file-transfer solution at low cost.

SureSync is available in single-user and server license forms. Using the wizard on the installation CD-ROM, I installed both editions easily. However, to use the server edition, you must set up clients individually and provide each client with access to the network directory that contains the SureSync installation files.

You can use the single-user edition immediately after you install it on your standalone computer. Before you employ the server version, you must configure the Distributed Component Object Model. DCOM is a native NT program that uses multiple processes to accomplish one task, thereby integrating the distributed application in a network environment. You can find assistance in configuring DCOM from NT online Help. It took me about 10 minutes to install the SureSync server edition and about 5 minutes to install each of my two test clients, not including time for configuring DCOM.

SureSync classifies files under two broad categories. The first category is Master Files, which you can alter from only one central location. The second category is Exchanging Copies, which you can alter from more than one location.

SureSync's transfer methods depend on the user configuring a synchronization between the transmitting computer and the receiving computer. A seven-step wizard walks you through this configuration. Then you must verify that your synchronization is set correctly in the Preview Relation window, which displays information about your synchronization in a four-pane mode (as Screen 1 shows). The display in the Preview Relation window includes icons that illustrate the before and after status of the files you want to synchronize.

I used SureSync to create a mirror image of selected files in my server directory, then I sent the mirrored files to one of my test client computers. After I verified that the files were configured correctly for a transfer, I clicked the traffic signal button in the Preview Relation window and the transfer completed successfully.

I was a little disappointed that the only way I could send identical data to multiple locations was to configure individual relations between the source system and each destination. I'd like to see Software Pursuits create a batch option for SureSync to eliminate the extra work you must perform to complete multiple identical transfers. However, SureSync can schedule multiple unattended transfers, and I found this option simple to set up.

Overall, I was pleased with SureSync. The program is easy to use and delivers the performance it promises. However, I have a quibble: SureSync needs clearer user warnings about the consequences of an improperly configured synchronization and an undo option once synchronization begins. If you choose the wrong synchronization method, you can unwittingly destroy files and directories. For example, if you choose mirror rather than copy, the data you transfer will overwrite all data on the destination disk that is not identical to the data in the source mirror. You must be certain that the synchronization method you choose will do what you expect. To be fair, SureSync's User's Guide, both the hard-copy and online versions, explains each synchronization method clearly. However, because you can't restore data you accidentally destroy by using the wrong synchronization method, a warning system that reminds you of the outcome of the synchronization method you've chosen would make SureSync more user-friendly.

SureSync is fast, efficient, and robust. If you're seeking a solution for file transfer at a low cost, SureSync deserves a serious look.

Contact: Software Pursuits * 800-367-4823
Price: $69 (single edition), $795 (server edition)
System Requirements: Intel-based 486 or better, Windows NT 4.0 or later, or Windows 95, 20MB of hard disk space, 16MB of RAM CD-ROM drive
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