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What Is File Synchronization?

Alex Newth
Alex Newth

File synchronization is used in computers to ensure files are consistent when one exists in several areas at the same time. There are two ways of performing file synchronization, one-way and two-way synchronization, and the names describe how the files act with one another. One reason for this synchronization is to ensure there is no conflict between the different versions of the file, because a lack of consistency can cause system errors. This also makes it easier and faster to back up the files, because only one version is needed and not all of them.

Many times in a computer there is a single file, but that single file is found in several places throughout the hard drive. This usually is because the file is copied and placed somewhere else, allowing the two files to exist in different places. The files normally are labeled as the source and the copy, with the source being the original file. By performing file synchronization, this ensures the two files are exactly the same.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Two different methods exist for file synchronization. The one-way variety, which is when the source file is used as a template and the copy files are made to be like the source, is the less common of the two. In this schema no updates or changes are performed on the source, only on the copies. With the more common two-way, the source version can be updated; it is more common because it enables the user to work with the copy file while keeping the source file updated and consistent.

The most common reason for performing file synchronization is to ensure there are no consistency errors. When two versions of the same file exist but one is substantially different from the other, this can cause the system to become confused. This normally just causes problems with the single file but, if that file is important for the computer, then it may cause massive errors. For example, if the file controls how the computer boots up, then this can cause the computer to have a very hard time booting.

Another reason for file synchronization is that it increases backup speeds. When a backup is performed, every file normally is needed or the backup will be incomplete. If the files are synchronized, then the separate copies are not needed. This lowers the overall amount of memory needed for the backup, which then causes the backup to work faster.

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      Woman doing a handstand with a computer