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In windows I manually back up from time to time by formatting my external drive and copying the contents of my data partition over. Inevitably there is a difference in the number and size of the files copied because of system files, etc.

Is there a program that would diff two directories recursively and compile the differences into a nice GUI tree that I could peruse (preferably filter) to ensure that everything I want made it over to the drive? It should only show files that are not in both directories.

(Also, please ignore the inadequacy of my backup solution)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

WinMerge should be able to do what you require. I've used it for comparing files, but not folders. The file comparison section is great, and I imagine that the folder part is similar.

enter image description here

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I guess I should have mentioned this was a very large backup (~1TB). I did use WinMerge but I had to leave it go overnight and check the results the next day. – Huckle Dec 17 '12 at 18:20

You could use git to do this with directories A and B:

$ cd A/
$ git init && git add . && git commit -am"first version of A (or any other commit message)"
$ cd ../B/
$ git init && git add . && git commit -am"first version of B (or any other commit message)"
$ git fetch ../A/ && git diff FETCH_HEAD
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I wouldn't even begin to attempt to read that without code formatting. Indent each line by four spaces and leave a blank line above it. – Huckle Dec 16 '12 at 8:54
Sorry! Fixed that. – Rodja Dec 17 '12 at 10:34
Revisting this question. I actually like this solution more now than I originally did. I think this would work a lot better for smaller backups however, as multi-TB git repos are rather unwieldy. – Huckle Dec 22 '13 at 3:42

It doesn't meet your specification exactly, but Robocopy is part of a standard win Vista/7/8 install (and part of the windows resource kit for pre-vista). It is command line, but can be used to synchronize locations, and can also be set to monitor the source for changes and rerun a job.

It has extensive options and also has a LOG only switch for you to examine the output further.

ROBOCOPY /? will give you all options.

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Was aware of RoboCopy. I don't really want the extra system files copied, I just want to ensure that nothing important was left behind. – Huckle Dec 16 '12 at 8:55

For completeness, I'd like to mention Beyond Compare here (paid, Scooter Software). Personally I think it's user friendlier than WinMerge. If you use this folder comparison feature often, it's well worth the money. I don't remember if WinMerge supports this, but you can compare over FTP too.

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