FreeFileSync: Open Source File Synchronization Tool

FreeFileSync is an open-source folder comparison and sync tool that can back up your data to an external disk, a cloud service or any other storage path.
Warp Terminal

FreeFileSync is a free and open-source folder comparison and sync tool with which you can back up your data to an external disk, a cloud service like Google Drive or any other storage path.

So, let's dive in and see what it is all about.

a screenshot of freefilesync

FreeFileSync is an impressive open-source tool that can help you back up your data to a different location.

This different location can be an external USB disk, Google Drive or any of your cloud storage locations using SFTP or FTP connections.

You might have read our tutorial on how to use Google Drive on Linux before. Unfortunately, thereโ€™s no proper, free FOSS solution to use Google Drive natively on Linux, tools like FreeFileSync are as close as one can get.

FreeFileSync can be used to sync files with your Google Drive account. In fact, I have been using it to sync my files to Google Drive and to a separate hard drive.

Features of FreeFileSync

Free File Sync open sourc file synchronization tool

Even though the UI of FreeFileSync might look old school โ€” it offers a ton of useful features for both average and advanced users as well.

Iโ€™ll highlight some key features here:

  • Cross-Platform Support (Linux, Windows, and macOS)
  • Compare Folders before Synchronizing
  • Supports Google Drive, SFTP, and FTP connections
  • Two-way Synchronization Support
  • Version control for Advanced Users
  • Real-Time Sync Options
  • Ability to Schedule Batch Jobs

So, if you take a look at the features it offers, itโ€™s not just like any ordinary sync tool. But, also offers a lot free of charge.

Furthermore, to give you an idea how FreeFileSync works. You can compare the file content/file time or simply compare the file size of both source and target folder as shown below.

a screenshot of freefilesync file comparision feature

You also get numerous synchronization options to mirror or update your data. Hereโ€™s how it looks like:

a screenshot of freefilesync synchronization options

Seeing that the essential features are available for free. Should you choose to, you can donate something so that the project is kept alive with regular updates. You will find this page in the downloads section of the project website.

a screenshot of freefilesync donation page

Installing FreeFileSync on Linux

You can simply head on to its official download page and grab the tar.gz file for Linux. If you like, you can download the source code as well.

a screenshot of running freefilesync on linux

After downloading, you just need to extract the archive and run the executable file to get started (as shown above).

Getting Started With FreeFileSync

While I havenโ€™t tried to successfully create an automatic sync job, it is pretty easy to use.

The official documentation should be more than enough to get what you want using the software. But, just to give you a head start, here are a few things that you should keep in mind.

a screenshot of freefilesync folder configuration

As illustrated by the screenshot above, you have to select a source folder and the target folder to sync. You can choose a local folder or a cloud storage location in either case.

Once you do that, you need to tweak the type of folder comparison you want to do (usually the file time & size) for the synchronization process. And on the right-side, you get to tweak the type of sync that you would like to perform.

Suggested Read ๐Ÿ“–

Insync: The Hassleless Way of Using Google Drive on Linux
Insync can be your all-in-one solution to sync files to the cloud for Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox.

Types of synchronization in FreeFileSync

When you select the โ€œUpdateโ€ method for sync, it simply copies newer data from the source folder to the target folder. So, even if you delete something from your source folder, it wonโ€™t get deleted from your target folder.

In case you want the target folder to have the same file copies as your source folder, you can select the โ€œMirrorโ€ synchronization method. So, here, if you delete something from your source folder, it gets deleted from your target folder as well.

Thereโ€™s also a โ€œTwo wayโ€ sync method, which detects changes on both source and target folders (instead of monitoring just the source folder). So, if you make any changes to the source/target folder, the modification will be synchronized on both folders.

For more advanced usage instructions, I suggest you refer to the official documentation.

Wrapping Up

Another open-source file synchronization tool that comes to mind is the popular Syncthing, you might want to look at if you are looking for something different.

FreeFileSync is a pretty underrated folder comparison and sync tool available for Linux. Users who utilize Google Drive, SFTP, or FTP connections along with separate storage locations for backup should find it very useful.

All of this comes with cross-platform support for Linux, Windows, and macOS for free!

๐Ÿ’ฌ Isnโ€™t that exciting? Let me know your thoughts on FreeFileSync in the comments below!

About the author
Ankush Das

Ankush Das

A passionate technophile who also happens to be a Computer Science graduate. You will usually see cats dancing to the beautiful tunes sung by him.

Become a Better Linux User

With the FOSS Weekly Newsletter, you learn useful Linux tips, discover applications, explore new distros and stay updated with the latest from Linux world


Great! Youโ€™ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to It's FOSS.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.