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Data synchronization is the process of establishing consistency among data from a source to a target data storage and vice versa and the continuous harmonization of the data over time. We can set this up between phones computers tablets and more.

There are tools available for file synchronization, version control (CVS, Subversion, etc.), distributed filesystems (Coda, etc.), and mirroring (rsync, etc.), in that all these attempt to keep sets of files synchronized. However, only version control and file synchronization tools can deal with modifications to more than one copy of the files.

  • File synchronization is commonly used for home backups on external hard drives or updating for transport on USB flash drives. The automatic process prevents copying already identical files, thus can save considerable time relative to a manual copy, also being faster and less error prone.
  • Version control tools are intended to deal with situations where more than one user attempts to simultaneously modify the same file, while file synchronizers are optimized for situations where only one copy of the file will be edited at a time. For this reason, although version control tools can be used for file synchronization, dedicated programs require less overhead.
  • Distributed filesystems may also be seen as ensuring multiple versions of a file are synchronized. This normally requires that the devices storing the files are always connected, but some distributed file systems like Coda allow disconnected operation followed by reconciliation. The merging facilities of a distributed file system are typically more limited than those of a version control system because most file systems do not keep a version graph.
  • Mirror (computing): A mirror is an exact copy of a data set. On the Internet, a mirror site is an exact copy of another Internet site. Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information, and are of particular value as a way of providing reliable access to large downloads.