Chronosync Review


Over the past few years I’ve podcasted quite a bit about one of my favorite Mac utilities, Chronosync, but never given it a feature review. It is time. Chronosync handles synching and backups from your Mac with style.
For instance, using Chronosync I have one script that looks at the contents of some of my most important document folders and copies them to a backup folder on my iDisk every week. This way my key documents get offsite backup. The best part is Chronosync does this on a schedule and it requires no user involvement.


Selecting files for synchronization for backup requires selection of the volume and applicable directory and selecting, or unselecting, individual components for Chronosync’s attention. It is not entirely intuitive but makes sense once you understand it.
Once selected you cansynchronize or backup with just about any device. It will work with local or attached storage or even other computers. The developer’s separate application, ChronoAgent makes this particularly easy with other Macs and an excellent solution for synching between desktop and laptop machines.

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The interface makes it easy to choose between unidirectional and bi-directional syncing. So whether you are looking to simply create an archive or sync multiple changes between two working machines, Chronosync can handle it. The application can even sync non system files with a Windows PC. It analyzes your data and allows for trial synchronizations. Additionally, Chronosync can create version archives on your backup to allow you to fetch prior versions of files.
In performing this bit of magic, ChronoSync uses “Relative State Monitoring” that allows it to detect deleted, moved, or renamed files and folders, and resolve conflicts. ChronoSync protects data integrity by verifying data, ensuring proper copies are made before replacing data, and providing detailed logs. Because it only copies changed files, the process is remarkably fast.
The scheduling tool allows you to set repeating and single run backups with the precision of a Swiss watch. It even emails you when backups complete or, more importantly, fail.
Because each synchronization or backup process is its own file, you can save as many templates as you require. I’ve been using ChronoSync for several years and never had any problems with it.
A license will cost $40. Interestingly, that is it. There will never be an upgrade fee, ever. When the software recently updated to version 4.0, I got it for free. You can check it out at
You can listen to this review on the Mac ReviewCast, episode 223.

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In Praise of ChronoSync

One of my many failings is an obsession with backing up data. I’d like to say this is a result of my growing up with data storage devices like cassette tapes that scarred me with a lifelong mistrust for all backups. However when you come down to it, I’m just a little bit crazy. Anyway, one of my backup regimens includes copying all of my essential documents onto an 8 gig encrypted thumb drive once a month. The best application for this job is ChronoSync. I bought my ChronoSync license years ago and was really pleased this week to find out that: a) they released a new version 4 with several significant upgrades; and, b) ChronoSync developer, Econ Technologies, does not charge for upgrades, ever.

If you want to sync two folders or make sure a limited portion of your “stuff” gets copied to some other place, take a look at ChronoSync. I’ve been using it a long time and never had a problem.

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Syncing Data on Multiple Macs

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So I suddenly find myself using two different Macs. I’ve worked on different computers before but never had two as primarily my workstations. As a result, I’m trying to figure out the best way to keep my data all synced up. This problem is made a bit easier by the fact that the MacBook Air gets used almost exclusively for writing, email, and a few other applications I use for work. As such, I don’t need to sync iTunes data, movie files, and other things that eat bandwidth like candy. The system does, however require that it be reliable, easy, and not ever lose anything. One Scrivener file could have several days worth of work in it. I can not “accidently” sync it out of existence. So as I research this issue I see three viable alternatives:


This was actually recommended to me by a friend. I already keep a local copy of my iDisk. This really should be enough. It is always syncing to the .Mac server and when I move from one machine to the other, everything should be there. An advantage of this system is its ease. There are no extra steps required. It is seamless. My concern with this approach is the possibility of something funny at .Mac “syncing” the local copy to zero or (even more likely) a prior version of a file from the other machine. Now I know this is not supposed to happen. However that is not good enough. I can’t have it happen ever. Another concern with this approach is TimeMachine. I know TimeMachine does make a copy of the local iDisk but it is a sparse image and digging an old file out of it is not exactly the simple process I currently enjoy with TimeMachine.

Flash Drive

I have a flash drive on my keychain. I was advised by one Apple Genius friend how he much prefers keeping files between two Macs on a thumb drive instead of iDisk because he doesn’t like the performance hit. I don’t find the performance problem with iDisk to be much of an issue. I also worry again about security. It would be so easy to lose a thumb drive. Granted there would be a local copy on the last machine the file got used on but it still seems a bit klugey. You have to think about what files to copy over every time you sync and I will inevitably forget one or two (or five or six).

Local + iDisk

As a compromise, my current process is to keep documents in the documents folder like I always did. I add a few steps however. I run Chronosync whenever I’m leaving or starting a machine. The Chronosync file is called “iDisk” and compares the current iDisk image with select folders in my Documents folder. It then updates the iDisk with those files. In addition to word processing files, it also syncs over to the iDisk a copy of my OmniFocus database. I then move to the other machine and let iDisk pull down the new files, run ChronoSync again and I’m good to go. This system involves a few more steps but seems more secure (so long as Chronosync doesn’t torch me) and gives me actual TimeMachine backups for the data.
I’m new to all of this “two Macs” business and would love to hear how other people are doing it. Leave a comment or drop me an email.

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