Useful Tips

How to compare files and folders


Perhaps you have a large number of photos that you have been collecting for several years, just in case you keep a copy of the photos on several media, such as a USB flash drive and computer, or on drive C and drive D. The folder with photos takes up a lot of space, and copying all files takes a long time. So, in order not to sit and spend a lot of time manually comparing all the files in folders, you can resort to the help of the Total Commander file manager.

“Total Commander” is a free advanced file manager, it can simultaneously work in two different places on the computer, it is very convenient when you copy information from one medium to another, you see immediately 2 media. It can also work with system files, it is very useful for people of certain professions.

  1. We will use Total Commander version 7.56a, a newer version you can find and download from the official website of the developer
  2. We enter one of the compared folders on the left side, and the second of the compared folders on the right side. For an example we will take two folders which are on different carriers, a hard drive and a flash drive. In each folder there are several identical photographs and documents, as well as differences in the composition.
  3. Select the "Tools" item.
  4. Select "Synchronize Directories ...". In the menu that appears, select the option “Synchronize directories ...”
  5. Setting items to compare folders with files. In the window that opens, carefully set all the necessary checkmarks:
    • “Selected (in the main window)” - the comparison will include only those folders in which you are on the right and left.
    • “Empty directories” - not only folders with contents will be compared, but also empty folders. We put a tick.
    • “Asynchronously” - folders will be processed from each other (better not to put it here).
    • “With subdirectories” - all subfolders will be compared in the same way. We put this tick.
    • “By content” - if you check the box, each byte will be compared, and at the slightest discrepancy, the program will tell us about it. You need to check this box, especially when comparing documents, otherwise the files will be considered different only if they are named differently, and the program will not look at the contents of the document. We also put this tick.
    • “Ignore the date” - check the box if it is not checked, the contents of files with the same date will not be compared.

  • So, we put all the necessary checkmarks, and now click the “Compare” button.
  • In the process of the program, we see that it compares each file in turn, and gives one of four values:
    • "Green arrow" - shows the files that will be copied from the left to the right.
    • “Blue arrow” - shows the files that will be copied from the right side to the left.
    • "Equal sign" - shows files completely identical in content.
    • “Crossed out equal sign” - shows files with different contents, although by name they may be the same. This is necessary just when comparing documents.

  • This completes the comparison of the folders, if you want to make changes based on the results of the comparison, you need to click the "Synchronize" button and click "OK" in the window that appears.
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    Compare directories (folders)

    To get started, consider how to compare folders. After installing the meld program, run it and see such an interface, see the screenshot.

    Select Directory Comparison. Click the arrow button labeled No. Select the required directories. You can compare two or three folders. For three, check the "3-way comparison" flag.

    Click the Compare button

    The directories with the contents are displayed. You can visually see what is in what.

    As you can see, existing objects are displayed in green and absent objects in gray with a crossed out name. Using the control buttons, you can copy missing files and folders among themselves, or delete them. The same actions can be performed using the context menu that can be called with the right mouse button. Additionally, this menu has the option "Open with an external application." For example, you can immediately open and edit a file using your regular text editor.

    If there are a lot of directories and folders, you can apply the filters located in the top menu to make the display more compact.

    Compare files

    Now let's move on to comparing files. Here everything is the same as when comparing folders, you only need to select the "Compare files" button. In the same way, select the required files. You can compare two or three files. Everything is the same with directories.

    Click the "Compare" button.

    We will see the difference in the documents. In places where there is a mismatch, by clicking on the black arrows, copy the line in the desired direction. In the above example, clicking on the left arrow will copy the line with the missing tag "" to the document located to the right in which this tag is not.

    Thus, we can not only compare directories and files, but also edit them by combining if necessary.

    In such a simple way, you can easily synchronize files and folders. Watch the video How to compare files and folders:

    In order to quickly compare and synchronize two folders, do the following:

    On PC, open Windows Explorer, select the folder where the clipart is stored, right-click and select the item in the context menu Compare and Sync.

    In field Target paths specify the folder on the laptop where the clipart is located (use the button Browse).
    It's all! Now you can click Proceedto start the comparison process.
    In more complex cases, you can before this:

    • Change the set of synchronized data on the tab Data to synchronization,
      for example, exclude some subfolders,
    • Choose location (FTP, Google Drive), type and other storage parameters for the second side of synchronization on the tab Storage options,
    • Set a filter for synchronized files on a bookmark File filter,
    • Set advanced options on the tab Advanced options.

    After the folder comparison is completed, you will be shown a preview window of the files that will be processed.

    Here you can view lists of identical files, different files, files to be processed, etc. To do this, install Current view to the appropriate value. If necessary, you can manually change the automatically assigned actions for the file or folder.
    After you make sure that the program will do exactly what you need, click Execute in order to start the synchronization process, or click Closeto just close the window without making any changes.

    After the synchronization process is completed, the results report can be viewed in the Summary Journal in the main program window.