Keeping your laptop, desktop and other network computers synchronised is a time consuming and difficult business, especially if you opt to manually compare and transfer files.
Life could be much easier with a little automated assistance, and Laplink PCsync 6 delivers just about everything you might need in order to synchronise, backup, mirror or replicate your most important documents.
The program provides a straightforward wizard to simplify the process of creating a new sync job, for instance. In just a few clicks you're able to define a folder pair (one local folder, one on the remote computer), the sync direction (unidirectional or bidirectional), the type of files to transfer, and what to do if there's a conflict (such as both files having been updated since the last sync). It couldn't be much easier to use.
And, while your sync job will run manually by default, a capable scheduler also allows you to set up unattended transfers at the date and time of your choice.
PCsync 6 will work across many different connection types, and a wired or wireless network, one of Laplink's special USB network cables, or Windows Easy Transfer cables from third-party manufacturers like Belkin are all supported. We found an ancient USB network cable in a drawer, and that worked too.
The PCsync 6 licence allows you to install the program on up to three systems, which can be running almost anything. Windows XP, 2003, Vista and Windows 7 (32-bit and 64-bit) are all officially supported. Windows Server 2008 isn't, but appeared to work in our tests. And new to PCsync 6 is a version that will run on Mac OS X (10.5 and 10.6), so you can now synchronise and transfer files between a PC and Mac.
Getting these systems communicating can occasionally be tricky, though. PCsync is supposed to detect and display other computers on your network that are also running the program so that you can make a connection with a click. But in practice we found this rarely happened. Instead we had to manually enter a PC's IP address before it was recognised.
Was there some PCsync option that needed tuning? We checked Help to find out, but that proved another disappointment. The documentation is thin, poorly presented and doesn't include a Search function, so tracking down the information you need may take some time.
Fortunately, you're unlikely to need Help too much, as the rest of PCsync 6 is generally well designed and works without problems.
Transfer speeds are good thanks to Laplink's SpeedSync technology, which transfers only the modified sections of a file. We never reached the 800 per cent maximum improvement that SpeedSync is said to deliver, but our transfers were regularly twice as fast as achieved by Windows alone.
This extra performance means that PCsync 6 can work well as a backup program, mirroring important files to an external hard drive, USB or network drive.
And there's a welcome new bonus feature in the Mac Migration Wizard. If you've decided to replace an ageing Windows PC with a shiny new Mac, this will automate the process of collecting your most important documents, videos, pictures and more, and transferring them to their new home.