FAQ  [expand all]

We’re always hearing unique uses people find for SyncBuddy. Here are some examples if you’re looking for ideas:

  • You’re working on a big project at home and need to present it at work or school regularly. It’s easiest to throw the files on a thumb drive and take it with you, but it doesn’t take long for the routine of micro-managing files to become tedious. Instead, just click Sync in SyncBuddy and it will quickly copy the differences for you.

  • You’re on vacation taking lots of photos. You might even get a chance to retouch a few as time permits. These photos are irreplaceable, and uploading several gigabytes over the hotel wifi to your online storage is never going to happen. Rather than trust your only copy to the safety of your laptop or CF card, you use SyncBuddy at the end of each day to sync the latest updates to a USB drive for additional protection.

  • You already use a full-disk backup solution for disaster recovery, but it’s a chore to restore individual files when you need them. Everything is locked behind a proprietary file format or user interface. The backup solution that truly works for you is to create a new backup folder once per month and use SyncBuddy to sync your most important files to it. No fancy archiving software necessary. You’ve created your own monthly history that’s easily browsable in the event you need to go back.

Cloud-based solutions store your data on their servers via the internet. SyncBuddy allows you to keep your data private.

Because cloud-based solutions keep a master copy of your data, they can provide multi-directional syncing from any number of devices. SyncBuddy offers one-way syncing only. You select a source and a destination. The destination will always be made into an exact copy of the source.

Depending on your needs, you may replace cloud-based solutions entirely or complement them with SyncBuddy. Our customers do both, and seem to find new uses for SyncBuddy every day!

SyncBuddy provides one-way syncing only. It’s not meant to replace complex syncing apps like iCloud or Dropbox.

No, SyncBuddy is not for backing up your entire hard drive or your operating system. Instead, it gives you control over a specific set of files to fit your individual need or use-case.

SyncBuddy does not create snapshots over time. It creates an exact mirror to the folder of your choosing. Therefore, files in the destination may be permanently replaced or deleted.

Yes! Check out the options in Preferences.

Writing to the drive root

Selecting the root of your drive as a source or destination may be a bad idea. The macOS keeps many open or locked files here that are not meant to be tampered with (hidden system folders such as .Trashes, .Spotlight, etc.). You may receive many annoying warnings by attempting this. We strongly recommend syncing to folders, not the root of the drive.

Non-Apple file storage solutions, such as third-party NAS

Some third-party hardware storage solutions create their own filesystem formats, use formats that aren’t entirely Mac-friendly, or tamper with things like timestamps and extended attributes for their own purposes. They are usually compatible with Macs enough to be a very reliable backup solution for you, but be aware it may come with drawbacks. Files may be re-synced unnecessarily/excessively; or you may receive many warnings related to syncing metadata.

We cannot provide support or advice for any hardware brand or product.

For best results, we recommend using the macOS filesystem (HFS+ or APFS) on both your source and destination volumes.

If you would like accurate progress bars, enable it in Preferences. See How does the “determine workload” tuning option work? for more information.

You can decide between the following options. One may be faster than the other. Results will vary according to your files and hardware.

Incrementally Before Starting
Memory Most efficient with memory usage Less efficient with memory usage
Start Time Syncing starts immediately You will not start seeing results until SyncBuddy has compared the entirety of your source and destination folders
Progress Bar The progress bar will gain accuracy over time (it may even move backwards) The progress bar will be very accurate

SyncBuddy will not mount network volumes for you. You must have them connected and authenticated for SyncBuddy to access them.

What are they?

“Metadata” or extended attributes are a way of storing data about files in the filesystem. Apple makes heavy use of extended attributes in OS X, including:

  • file icons and their associated app
  • colored labels/tags
  • Spotlight Search
  • collection of files showing up as a single bundle (applications, photo libraries, etc)
  • behind-the-scenes optimizations
  • and much more

If you’re interested in learning more, here is a good summary of extended attributes.

Does SyncBuddy support metadata / extended attributes?

Absolutely! The goal of SyncBuddy is to create an exact mirror of your files. Not only does it copy your files, but it preserves as much metadata about them as possible.

Should I be concerned about the number of metadata updates I see?

Don’t worry if you see a lot of metadata activity in SyncBuddy. This is normal and the amount space they take up is trivial. The reason for many metadata changes in SyncBuddy is due to how heavily and frequently Apple modifies extended attributes.

Should I be concerned about the number of “xattr” errors I see upon completion?

Based on your unique setup, SyncBuddy may not always be able to write metadata. Your Mac/NAS/other software and/or hardware may be preventing it. This is not cause for concern.

Can I have SyncBuddy ignore metadata?

Yes! Check the Excludes options. Your files will still be safely synced when excluding metadata. Just don’t be surprised if things start looking a little unusual in the Finder.

How does metadata work on Windows?

See How does SyncBuddy handle Windows-formatted drives?

Windows volumes, either physically connected or connected through the network, are not entirely compatible with your Mac. There are 3 things you should be aware of when using SyncBuddy with a Windows volume.

  1. Timestamps are not entirely compatible. Therefore, SyncBuddy can’t rely on modification times when determining what needs to be synced. Instead, it must compare each file’s contents by generating a checksum. This is a bit slower, but will give you accurate syncing.

  2. Some Mac/UNIX features—such as symlinks and permissions—are not supported in Windows at all. Therefore, SyncBuddy will disable these features if it detects a Windows destination volume.

  3. Metadata (extended attributes) are stored differently on Windows. Apple compensates by creating corresponding “._” files to contain this information (often called AppleDouble). These extra files can cause significant noise for SyncBuddy which you may notice in the Activity tab. You may wish to disable metadata and/or hidden files in your exclude options if it bothers you.

For best results, we recommend using the macOS filesystem (HFS+ or APFS) on both your source and destination volumes.

Filesystem watching does not come without serious performance and user experience ramifications. We chose not to include a watch feature when developing SyncBuddy to give you the best possible product. For this type of app, scheduling will provide a more performant and consistent experience.

If you require real-time watching, we recommend a product like Dropbox or iCloud.

Yes. SyncBuddy works on macOS 10.13 and with volumes formatted as APFS.

Please check the Mac App Store for the latest system requirements / compatibility information.

Sorry, we do not offer a free trial of SyncBuddy.

SyncBuddy is only available through the Mac App Store.

FolderWatch had a great run, but a lot has changed over the years. Most notably:

  1. It became impossible to continue supporting FolderWatch as built with Apple’s policy changes for the Mac App Store. We had to start from scratch.

  2. There have been significant advances in Apple’s development technologies. By starting over, we were able to leverage better tools to create a vastly more performant, reliable and maintainable product.

  3. We learned a lot from customers. We took the experience from FolderWatch about what people liked and didn’t like and decided to build a different product that would appeal to a larger audience. If you liked FolderWatch, you’ll love SyncBuddy!


Let us know if you found a bug or have a feature request.