I have a collection of files on laptop, with many folder and subfolders. At the same time, I'd like to do a backup of this collection on my external HD.

But browse both path every time is inconvenient.

So I'd like manage only one scenario (the one on laptop) and sometimes update my hd with a software that check the current status and update which is missing on external hd.

I used to work with SVN (tortoise) at work, and this could be nice. Maybe this will be so slow...

What can you suggest on Windows?

2 Answers 2


What you are asking for sounds a bit overkill for SVN, but it is not outside the realms of possibility.

The main question to ask is do you really need the version control abilities of SVN or could you live without it.

With TortoiseSVN you could potentially create a local "file" based repository and then check out copies from that repository to your main hard drive and external drive, you would then need to update both copies on a semi-regular basis.(I'll elaborate on this shortly)

A good tutorial on creating a local SVN repository is in the TortoiseSVN documentation section titled Creating The Repository With TortoiseSVN. The basic procedure is (after installing TortoiseSVN) as follows:

  1. Create a directory where you want to actually store the repository data (Say C:\SVNRepo) and go into that directory.

  2. Right-click anywhere in that Explorer window, go into the TortoiseSVN dropdown and select "Create repository here"
    enter image description here

  3. Elsewhere in your system (say your desktop or external hard drive or both) create another directory called something like SVNCheckout

  4. In that directory right click again and this time select the SVN Checkout option and where it asks for the repository location enter the path to where you created the actual repository, You'll need to put file:// at the start of the path and substitute all "\"'es with a "/". In the end it should look something like file://C:/SVNRepo

  5. You will now be able to manage all your files that you want to keep synchronised in the normal SVN way. You'll have to remember to commit any changed files that you want to then be able to transfer between checkout locations.

What this does mean though is that for any files you manage via SVN you will have at least two copies on your local system, one in the repository store, and one in the checkout directories.

Alternatively if all you want is a backup copy and don't care about version control as much I would recommend a file syncronisation tool such as SyncbackSE which is free and can be scheduled to regularly update files between both copies.

As a side note I believe that Syncback can be configured to check if the destination device actually exists to before synchronisation (or there are other simple file synchronisation software that can be configured to) so in order to

There it is, in the SyncbackSE feature list:

Run a profile automatically when external media is connected, e.g. a USB key is plugged in

As well as

File versioning so you can roll-back changes or deletions

Sadly though, these features are missing from their freeware versions and are only in their payware solutions.

There are some alternatives for file/folder synchronisation in this review: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-folder-synchronization-utility.htm

  • I don't know what do you mean as "create local file". I mean : I need to check which folders/files has been added on laptop regard hd external (that is not always inserted on laptop, so the syncbackse tool won't work I think). Just, when I put the external hd, I'd like to do a sort of "commit" for update folders and files on external hd from laptop (where, as I said, I have the most recent updates). Can you help me?
    – markzzz
    Jun 22, 2011 at 9:16
  • @markzzz normally with SVN you create an SVN repository on a webserver (a "web" based repository that you access via http:// based protocols) and you synchronise to that, one thing ToroiseSVN allows you to do is to create a local repository on your hard disk that you can checkout from and commit to that you access using the file:// method, hence why I said "file" based. I'll update my answer shortly with the method to create this local repository.
    – Mokubai
    Jun 22, 2011 at 12:09
  • "What this does mean though is that for any files you manage via SVN you will have at least two copies on your local system, one in the repository store, and one in the checkout directories." : yeah, but that's the backup! I still want files both on my HD and on my laptop :) So SVN will work I think...
    – markzzz
    Jun 22, 2011 at 13:07
  • 1
    SVN works by having a repository that you check files out of, you should never manually modify files in that repository as that is where all the file history, changelogs and metadata is stored along with the actual files and changing things by hand could break the structure and loose your data. You should only ever work in "checked out" copies of that repository, hence why I said that you would have two copies (three if you count your copy on the external hdd) as you have the repository, and whatever other checkouts you are using.
    – Mokubai
    Jun 22, 2011 at 14:04
  • Tried FreeFileSync : very excellent Tool :)
    – markzzz
    Jun 26, 2011 at 13:34

Maybe take a look at Unison (http://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/), depending on what OS you are working with. Never personnally used it, but everybody tells me it's fine.

While I am now mostly under Linux, I use grSync which I find perfect for this kind of tasks. It updates only the new/modified files, you can schedule, etc.

I believe Microsoft has a similar tool (it was called LiveSync if I remind correctly, not sure about the functionalities)


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