Zback: Freeware Backup And Synchronization

Zback

Zback (version: 2.70.0.c2) is a simple but capable backup and sync tool that works over network drives too. The program’s tabbed interface is divided into Simple back, Simple sync, Manual and Batch.

The Simple back is just like a manual no frills back up, one interesting option is the Include source path option that keeps the files’ directory structure in the backup location. For example if backing up C:\Program Files to H:\ the backed up files on H:\ will be in H:\C:\Program Files. This can make it easier when restoring files. Zback starts the restore process with a preview before offering to execute the restore.

Simple sync keeps two folders synchronized with both having the latest version of the files.

Manual is the user controlled, option filled feature of Zback. The available modes are perhaps best described by copying the help file section.

update (backup) – it will copy new files from source to target directory and update to new versions of existing files. This is default mode, it is good for backup files to other disk, external USB drive or a stick. You may also choose to keep old (multiple) versions of backup files.

mirror source to target – target directory will be identical as source (it adds new files to target, updates existing, deletes surplus files and directories from target, overwrites target files even if newer then source). Use this mode only if you are sure that target files may be discarded.

copy all – copies all source files that pass filters to target directory regardless of which is newer

synchronize <> – update bidirectionally (from Source to Target and vice versa). This mode is good for synchronizing home and office computer directories using USB stick.

erase source – erases files from source directory, no copy (useful for erasing temporary files)

backup [date] – copy source files to unique dated target directory (for example to D:\Backup\[2009-12-15_9-37-31]\). This mode is good for making chronological backups. You can make daily, monthly, etc. backups (see Options)

restore < – restore files from Target to Source. It is used to restore files from backup location back to Source directory.

The [mkDir] button creates the target or backup directory if it doesn’t exist. To the right there are filters for file types, directory names, files dates and options to keep old versions instead of overwriting them. There are Preview and Execute buttons here too. Once the settings are chosen it is possible to create a batch file to use in the next, Batch, tab.

Zback

The Batch tab uses a already saved batch file or lets the user write a new one. An example (example.bal) is included. The batch files can look complex and it is a fun exercise to create one by reading the available options or modes. For example v is the key for keeping old versions in the target folder (old files are renamed adding file_Date_Time) and can be used like:

C:\Program Files\*.* > H: /v

The program options include ‘Compare files by content’ that compares content when file name, date and size are equal. This is probably a rarely encountered situation and likely extremely slow.

Zback is Unicode ready, does not pollute the system registry, is portable and works on all Windows versions and in Linux using Wine too.

7 Sticky Notes: Probably The Most Complete Sticky Notes Program

7 Sticky Notes (Version: 1.9.0) is an attractive, feature rich freeware desktop sticky notes program. When installing there is an option to run and use it in portable mode but it requires registering 3 files – ExTVwU.ocx, ExLVwU.ocx and EditCtlsU.ocx with the system – for it to work, this is done automatically if one chooses to proceed.

7 Sticky Notes

When first launched 7 Sticky Notes starts with a large note with an attached window to configure and customize it. Sticky notes like the default one and others can be customized with rich text features, background colors and transparency. There is also recurring alarms but also a sleep mode. The sleep mode lets the user hide a note for a set period or at a particular time and set an action too. It can shutdown, restart, log off, open a file (click the ‘Pick’ button and drag the mouse to a program window and 7 Sticky Notes will automatically enter it in the Action text field) or a command executed (anything that can be entered in Windows’ Run dialog).

7 Sticky Notes has configurable hotkeys for creating new sticky notes, showing notes, hiding notes, switching desktops (see below for more) and opening its Notes Manager. Notes can be hidden and shown by clicking on the program’s tray icon as well.  It also features rollup and roll down, automatic sizing, note arrangements, file and image attachments (see below for more), themes, passwords for various actions such as opening the Notes Manager, unlocking notes, changing the program options and opening the program itself. There is also a restricted mode which locks all options and makes 7 Sticky Notes act like a static desktop. There is a backup feature and an online synchronization tool that works with DropBox, SkyDrive, Google Drive, SugarSync and basically any other service that syncs files. A full explanation is available at http://www.7stickynotes.com/help/onlinesync_whatis.php

The file attachments feature has two modes. When a file is dragged over a sticky note an Attach pad becomes visible and a shortcut can be created to the file but also if the file is dropped into the Attach pad while holding down the Ctrl key it is added to the database and becomes part of it and is no longer just an external shortcut.

7 Sticky Notes

7 Sticky Notes has a notes manager where lots more than simple edits can be done to the notes. Notes can be imported, exported to files, locked, hidden, duplicated, searched, printed, copied, recycled and more.

Others features different or unique to 7 Sticky Notes are multiple desktops, a desktop switcher and the Drop pad. Notes can be grouped and shown as desktops. Desktops are therefore basically categories or groups. Many desktops can be created, ordered, one chosen as the initial one or all shown together. Hotkeys and visual effects for switching between them are available in the program Options. The Drop pad to the right of the Notes Manager window is a sort of favorites area where sticky notes can be dropped into and batch operations such as search, print and move performed on them.

7 Sticky Notes

7 Sticky Notes deserves to be called impressive and should be highly rated. It runs on Windows 2000 and newer.

FTPbox: Your Own Personal Dropbox

FTPbox uses a hosting service you the user own to store and sync files instead of being a third party cloud service, so in this sense it is almost a self hosting Dropbox clone. It is an excellent concept but it seems that it is not the finished article.  Eventhough FTPbox is at version 1.8.5 now (a beta of the version) it is still missing some key ingredients and some that are not very clear.

FTPbox

FTPbox first requires the user to fill in FTP details. After the details are entered it checks the credentials and a window opens where the full path of the files can be chosen. By looking at the window one seems to be able to choose the root of a domain (for example / or www.rgdot.com) to store files. In my test this didn’t work, the files simply didn’t exist on the host side. It is perhaps only possible to create a (sub)folder on the host space (for example /ftpbox or www.rgdot.com/ftpbox).

The options available are that a user can choose to access a file via a browser, copy its location to the clipboard or open the local version. The first didn’t work in my test therefore I am not sure what the browser interface looks like. On the local machine FTPbox creates a folder much like Dropbox, under the Documents folder. Files dropped into the folder are automatically synced.

Right clicking on the program’s tray icon brings up a ‘Recent Files’ list, clicking on any of the listed files is the equivalent of the action or option chosen (open in browser, copy path to clipboard or open local version).

Another issue with FTPbox is that many hosts do not allow the web space to be used for personal files. Many terms of service (TOS) only allow web site files to be stored.

FTPbox is an open source project and should run on all recent Windows versions.

Create Synchronicity: Complete Backup And Synchronization

Create Synchronicity (Version: 5.2.1 tested for this review) is a very capable backup tool, it can synchronize and mirror folder structures. Creating a profile comes first along with choosing source and destination folders. The type of backup or synchronization can then be chosen and file types included or excluded, with regex support, if necessary. ‘Propagate Updates’ will differentiate between files updated and only those added or deleted. The Strict file time comparison check forces Create Synchronicity to check modified dates to the second so as to not miss often updated files.

Create Synchronicity

Right clicking on the profile name brings up options to edit settings, preview the synchronization, do the actual synchronization and also enable scheduling.

There are three synchronization modes or types available, quoting from the developer site they are:

Left to right (Mirror): New and modified files are copied from left to right. Deletions that occurred on the left are replicated (“mirrored”) on the right. In this case, the right folder becomes an exact copy of the left one, except that files updated on the right side are not reverted to their original state (Unless “strict mirror” is selected.).
Left to right (Incremental): New and modified files are copied from left to right, but deletions are not. In this case, the right folder somehow keeps an incremental history of changes that occurred on the left.
Two ways (Incremental): New and modified files are copied from left to right, and from right to left. No deletions occur. This is especially useful if changes occur also in the destination (eg. your documents on a USB stick)

Create Synchronicity has an expert mode (enabled by adding Expert mode:True to mainconfig.ini or pressing Ctrl+Alt+E) that, among others, enables new variables and md5 integrity check on copied files.

Create Synchronicity includes some command line support. It can also sync to network drives either by the user mapping network drives or using UNC (Uniform Naming Convention) paths.

There are also some hidden settings available to for example create compressed (gzip or bzip2) backups.

Every command line and every setting is fully explained on the detailed Help page. Create Synchronicity is open source, available in both portable and installer downloads. It requires Windows 2000 or newer and the .Net Framework 2.0.

FreeFileSync Manages Your Folders And Files

FreeFileSync is described by its author as

…is an Open-Source folder comparison and synchronization tool. It is optimized for highest performance and usability without restricted or overloaded UI interfaces


FreeFileSync
FreeFileSync has a simple yet attractive, with well made icons, interface that synchronizes folders and compares files and folders. The options to compare are based on file size and date and also the file contents. The help button to the right of the big rectangular compare button attempts to explain how the comparison is calculated in both the aforementioned possibilities or features.
The synchronization feature is more detailed and includes the possibility to copy files between folders so that they are identical or to copy files and overwriting any that already exist in the other folder or to even delete files that already exist in the other folder.

FreeFileSync is also capable of saving configurations to be loaded to make future uses even more automated. Batch files can also be saved to ease work for every use with identical folders. Files can also be filtered so that certain file types are not included in the syncing procedures. FreeFileSync is available both for Windows and Linux machines.