Some useful software tools

I just came across two interesting tools worthy of my hipster audience,
so here you go.

FolderSize does something that should have been part of windows from the
start. Have you ever wondered how large a folder is, and then been
annoyed with the right click, properties, then wait while windows
calculates the total size routine? FolderSize fixes this problem by
adding a Folder Size column to the details view of your explorer window.
And because the author thought outside of the box it is fast. I just
installed it today, so I don't have months of use to validate it with,
but so far it just works.

The second tool I am not so sure about. But before I tell you about it,
let me tell you about rsync a tool I am completely sure about. Rsync is
an open source command line tool for synchronizing and copying files. It
sounds boring, but it is actually pretty cool. If you are updating a
file between two computers, it uses some really clever algorithms to
only copy the distances over. This can make a big difference when you
are transferring big files, like a zip file containing many files, where
only a few lines were changed inside one of the zipped files. Even if it
is 100MB in size, rsync will update the old one with lightning
quickness. When you are stuck behind a dialup connection in Africa,
tools like this are critical. This morning I transferred 47MB worth of
code (thanks FolderSize), images and text to a server in London in less
than a minute or two thanks to rsync (and the fact that most of the code
was already there and hadn't changed). Rsync is great but its virtues
are yet to be realized by most users - mostly because people just
haven't heard of it and secondly it is command line based and that
scares people off. Last week I set up rsync to do nightly
synchronizations of about 30GB worth of data for OIBM. This has enabled
a mirroring of account data at each of the branches - saving tons of
daily bandwidth in a place where bandwidth is scarce, if there is any to
be had at all. Setting it up meant, cygwin, cron, ssh and rsync.
Essential parts of any sysadmin's toolkit in my opinion - but not
exactly part of the Microsoft Certified Blah Blah Course. This

is a nice guide to getting rsync going on windows.

The second tool is called SyncToy
and I haven't even downloaded it. On the surface it seems to be like
rsync but with a GUI. Perhaps that is all that it is - and if so then I
that is great. I'm a sucker for efficiency. I am not sure if it can
synchronize individual files by transferring just the changes - but it
certainly can do directories, and it sounds like quite a bit else too.
Try it out - and let me know what you think. I am particularly
interested to hear how it compares with rsync. Perhaps it is something
that I can recommend to sysadmins who are afraid to use their friendly
command line.

1 Response to Some useful software tools

  1. [...] doing right now. Rsync is another useful way to squeeze bandwidth and time online - see another one of my blog posts for more info. tags: dialup, firefox, port forward [...]

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