Beyond Compare is intended to compare the files you keep in specific folders, networked drives or even in the Cloud. Thus, it comes in extremely handy when you are backing up, synchronizing or merging data on various locations. The tool supports various comparison modes. Thus, you can only check file names, sizes and modified times. Moreover, it allows performing a thorough byte-to-byte comparison.
The program´s interface is very similar to that of a dual-panel file explorer, which means that it lets you open a different location on each panel to visually compare their contents, as differences are automatically highlighted. As said, it supports local and networked folders. Besides, it also allows browsing FTP sites and exploring the contents of archived files. Luckily, you can apply filters to focus exactly on specific file types. It is also good that the tool can help you preview the contents of some files and, when the built-in viewer does not support the extension, you can always configure an external viewer as well. I loved the possibility of spotting the differences in the contents of two text files. When recurrent backup tasks are involved, it is of great help that you can schedule them using the program´s scripting language.
All in all, Beyond Compare has the main advantage of letting you decide what to synchronize or not, so it reduces the chances that important data be overwritten. It has an extensive list of options that you can use, but these make the tool somewhat difficult to understand at first. The product also has a Pro version with some extra features, of which three-way merging seems to be the most advantageous as it lets you combine the changes made in two different versions of a file.
- Supports FTP sites
- Looks inside archives
- Supports surface and byte-to-byte comparisons
- Highlights differences
- Task scheduling
- Built-in viewer
- Difficult to understand at first