[Review] SoftChronizer

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

SoftChronizer

Version reviewed:

v1.1.3.470

Supported OS:

Windows XP/Vista/Win7

Price:

$19.95 (USD) but you can get it for free for a limited time at Giveawayoftheday.com!

Software description as per the developer:

SoftChronizer is a very easy to use, fast and versatile double-file search program, that was designed for to help you to keep your private or corporate book, audio files or picture collection in order, as well as for other use cases.

————————-{/rw_text} –>

{rw_good}

  • Fairly straightforward in terms of usage.
  • Users are allowed to search for specific file types, or search the whole computer.
  • Has the option to use binary comparisons in addition to comparison by file name and size.
  • “Fuzzy logic” feature allow for a bit of elbow room when searching for duplicate files.
  • Provides handy “extra” information on MP3 and image files, such as bitrate and resolution (respectively).
  • Fairly fast scans.

{/rw_good} –>

{rw_bad}

  • Has bugs; can’t finish a full scan on my C:/ partition because of errors.
  • Can only search one partition at a time.
  • Criteria to compare files is limited to name, size, or “byte-by-byte” – lacks the ability to use other criteria such as date file created, date last modified, etc.
  • Users can’t go back to the search results after the results are displayed if they (accidentally or on purpose) click on a different file type search option.
  • Users must manually change the “status” of each file individually; no options to change the “status” of multiple files at once.
  • The interface could do with a makeover.

{/rw_bad} –>

{rw_score}
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”8″}The program itself is fairly easy to use, although a more aesthetically pleasing interface would be greatly appreciated. The only real problems I have in terms of “easiness to use” is the fact that you can only search one partition at a time and you must manually change the “status” of each file displayed in the search results – no way to change multiple files at once.
{/for}
{for=”Performance” value=”6″}Ignoring the fact that duplicate file finders, by definition, are a menace to society, SoftChronizer scans fairly quickly while still finding quite a bit of duplicate files. However, SoftChronizer is also buggy; I was unable to finish scanning my whole C:/ because of errors.
{/for}
{for=”Usefulness” value=”3″}Duplicate file finders just are not that useful. Yes they will find duplicate files, but by design there will always be many, many duplicate files on your computer that are necessary and not to be deleted.
{/for}
{for=”Price” value=”7″}$19.95 is a fair price.
{/for}
{for=”Arbitrary Equalizer” value=”6″}This category reflects an arbitrary number that does not specifically stand for anything. Rather this number is used to reflect dotTech’s overall rating/verdict of the program in which all the features and alternatives have been considered.
{/for}
{/rw_score} –>

{rw_verdict}[tdown]
{/rw_verdict} –>

Although the name “SoftChronizer” may lead you to believe it is some sort of exotic program, SoftChronizer in fact is just a simple duplicate file finder. Well, to call it “simple” would be a lie because SoftChronizer does have one or two interesting and pesudo-unique features, but my point is that SoftChronizer is nothing but a duplicate file finder.

Before I start reviewing SoftChronizer, let me state that, by definition, duplicate file finders are flawed. You see the purpose of a duplicate file finder, obviously, is to find duplicate files on a computer so you, the user, can delete unnecessary files. Finding duplicate files isn’t really that hard or complex so most duplicate file finders find all or most duplicate files; “performance” in the sense of how many duplicate files are found, is not the issue. The issue is that computers, by design, will have duplicate files. There are files that are duplicated in different locations on your computer by Windows itself (for some reason or another); different programs can often use the same libraries, codecs, files etc. in the program and thus each program installation folder would have a copy of said library, codec, or file (this especially occurs with open source programs where code is often shared). Better yet, often times files are duplicated for backup purposes. Yes duplicate file finders will find duplicate files; however, many of the files found will be “false positives” in the sense that they are not “junk” but rather they have been duplicated for a specific reason (in that regard duplicate file finders can also be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing). So, you can spend your time sifting throw the search results in a duplicate file finder to eliminate the “false positives” and hope to recover 5 MB of hard drive space by deleting all that 1 real duplicate junk file found, or you can spend your time cleaning your hard drive the proper way such as uninstalling programs or following Locutus’ advice.

That being said, this is what the main program window of SoftChronizer looks like:

First off, the interface of SoftChronizer can do a makeover. While the interface does not deter in the usability of the program (SoftChronizer is fairly straightforward and easy to use), the interface is just ugly; it makes SoftChronizer look like it was created in the 90s although SoftChronizer was created last year (I think).

So, as I just mentioned, using SoftChronizer is very easy. You simply select what type of files you want to search duplicates for from the “Duplicates” menu, set the comparison criteria (“Binary”, “By File Size”, “By Filename”), set the location you want to search (“Root Directory”) and hit “Search”. (The searching is actually fairly quick, but more on that later.) After the search has finished, the results are displayed to you…

…and you have to manually select move, delete, or send to recycle bin for any files that you want via the drop down menu available under “Status” (each file can be set to be dealt with differently and if you don’t want to move/delete/send to recycle for a file, just leave the “status” to -). Once you have selected the files you want to move/delete/send to recycle bin, you hit the “Delete” button, confirm that you really want to do it (hit “All”)…

…and the tasks are done for you. Take note that if you selected “move”, all files will be moved to the folder that is selected (you may change it via the green arrow).

One cool, and useful, aspect of SoftChronizer is that it displayed “extra” information on MP3 and image files giving the user more information to work with when determining if found-files are actually junk or not:

By default, SoftChronizer is set to allow users to search their computers for duplicate PDFs, MP3s, Pictures, or for all files (see categories under the “Duplicates” menu in the first screenshot above). Users are allowed to, however, create their own “Duplicates” file-type search category via “Options” -> “File Types”:

Any category you add from this options window (click on the drop down menu to find other categories or to create your own) will be displayed under “Duplicates” in the main program window and you can easily use it to search for those specific duplicate file types. You can add as many categories you want and you can select as many of the 330 supported file types to include in each category as you want.

In regards to the comparison criteria:

  • Binary (Byte-by-Byte) – this feature is optional to use. What it does is it compares files, literally, byte by byte and only displays files that are 100% identical file byte by file bye. Of course a byte by byte comparison can take a very long time, so you enable this feature, be willing to spend some time waiting for the scan to finish when compared to running a scan without binary. Take note that binary comparison is “secondary” in the sense that the other criteria (file size and file name) must be filled before files are compared byte by byte.
  • By File Size – the difference between “same size” and “Fuzzy Logic” is that “same size” looks for the exact same size between files while “Fuzzy Logic” allows some elbow room by allowing the user to define certain parameters of how similar the file sizes must be (i.e. the file sizes need not be exactly the same) in order for the files to be declared duplicate. You can control the Fuzzy Logic parameters via “Options” -> “File Name” -> “Fuzzy Logic”:

  • By Filename – the differences between “same name” and “Fuzzy Logic” is the same for filename as it is for file size. “Same name” looks for the exact same name between files while “Fuzzy Logic” allows for some elbow room based on specific parameters. You can control the Fuzzy Logic parameters via “Options” -> “File Size” -> “Fuzzy Logic”:

Here are the other “Options” you can change for SoftChronizer:

The two most notable settings I want to highlight here are “View full subfolders names in list” setting and the “Additional directories to be searched” setting. The “View full subfolders names in list” setting, should, in my opinion, actually be turned on by default because this feature makes it so the full path of the files found is displayed in the search results as opposed to just showing the lowest folder. The “Additional directories to be searched” makes it so you can search more than one location at a time; if you have any directories (you can select partitions, folders, etc.) set here, these directories and the directory set under “Root Directory” from the main program window will be searched.

In terms of performance, SoftChronizer, like most other duplicate file finder, finds many duplicate files (however keep in mind what I stated at the start of the review about duplicate file finders have inherent “false positives) and the scans are done fairly quickly (took 34 seconds to do a non-binary file size and file name search with “same name” and “same size” while it took just under 7 minutes to do a binary search with same settings; both were done on a ~5.2 GB partition). The only real problem is that SoftChronizer has a bug that I encountered. Every time I try to do a full scan looking for all file types on my C:/ partition, I get an error…

…and am forced to close/reopen SoftChronizer (it doesn’t “freeze” so I can just X out the program); the scan never finishes. Other scans, just as look for PDFs, work just fine on my C:/ partition; just the scan for all file types and pictures bring up that error leading me to believe SoftChronizer is having a problem scanning some picture files.

Other points of improvements for SoftChronizer are:

  • Currently, SoftChronizer only has three criteria for comparing files (name, size, or “byte-by-byte”). I would like to see other criteria added such as date file created, date file modified, and date file accessed.
  • After a scan has finished and the scan results are displayed, if a user clicks on another selection under “Duplicates”, the scan results (unless one or more files’ statuses have been changed) are lost and the user must re-perform the scan – there is no “back” or such feature that allows the user to regain access to the scan that was just conducted if this happens.
  • When sifting through the files listed in the scan results, users can change the status of files depending on what they want to do with them. My problem is that users can only change the status of one file at a time. It is very probably that sometimes users may want to delete many files and changes to change the status of each one to “delete” is very annoying. I would like to see a feature where users can change the status of multiple files at once.

This review was conducted on a laptop running Windows 7 Professional 32-bit. The specs of the laptop are as follows: 3GB of RAM, a Radeon HD 2600 512MB graphics card, and an Intel T8300 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

{rw_freea}

WinUtilities Professional Edition

The “Duplicate File Finder” module will find duplicate files.

Duplicate Cleaner

Duplicate cleaner is a useful program to help you organize the contents of your home hard drive or corporate network.

You’d be surprised just how many redundant or duplicate files you could find forgotten in an obscure documents folder. Duplicate Cleaner will deep scan for all types of files – photos, music, films/video, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, text files – you name it, if it appears twice on your computer then Duplicate Cleaner will find it. Once these files are found you are provided with helper tools to enable you to select which copies to delete or move.These files can be deleted to the recycle bin, moved into an archive elsewhere, or replaced with hardlinks.

-Developer

CloneSpy

CloneSpy can help you free up hard drive space by detecting and removing duplicate files. Duplicate files have exactly the same contents regardless of their name, date, time and location. Also, CloneSpy is able to find files that are not exactly identical, but have the same file name. Perhaps you have different versions of a file and you want to find all of them and remove the older versions. CloneSpy can also find zero length files. These are files that have no content.

-Developer

{/rw_freea} –>

{rw_verdict2}As I have made fairly clear, I am no fan of duplicate file finders. However, I do evaluate software fairly and have no problem given a duplicate file finder a “thumbs up”. SoftChronizer, though, gets a thumbs down. I like SoftChronizer’s “Fuzzy Logic” features, and its fairly fast scans, but the bug(s), limited comparison criteria, and annoyance while changing the status of files is what earns it a thumbs down. In terms of my recommendation, I really would say don’t go for any duplicate file finder; some software are just meant not to be used (or, in this case, a software genre).
{/rw_verdict2} –>

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18 comments

  1. Aaron

    March 16, Avira found this.
    “The file ‘C:\Program Files\SoftChronizer\Register.exe’contained a virus or unwanted program ‘TR/Swisyn.ywn’ [trojan]”

    And then, once an hour at 40 after, I was getting this.

    “Virus or unwanted program ‘TR/Swisyn.ywn [trojan]’
    detected in file ‘C:\System Volume Information\_restore{3A7EFF8F-AF92-4884-B090-33AB5096E6D6}\RP49\A0019109.exe.”

    Was this a false positive?

  2. Rick

    Ramesh,

    That sounds great. I had already downloaded and briefly run those programs to see what they look like, read their options dialog boxes, etc, but I haven’t actually tried applying them.

    What I really should do to save time is create a test environment, a directory with examples of each kind of duplicate we’ve talked about, then try each program on it.

    I’ll definitely try both in more depth today.

  3. Ramesh Kumar

    @Rick:

    Hi!

    I am quoting portions of your post so I can answer those points. “I urge you to try Duplicate Cleaner for its decent masking, intelligent selection abilities, and its ability to export and import CSV lists”. Absolutely right. It is also quick & does not throw up false positives.

    “Ramesh Kumar, you suggested MP3 Organizer Pro 3 & Duplicate Music Files Finder 1.6 as able to catch “same” & also “similar”, but I think they can only do that for metadata. They can find mp3s with similar tags but can’t check for similar audio data”

    Perceptive query; beautifully put.

    Friend it catches same & similar based upon “content” & “not metadata”. How do I know this? I tested the same song sung by an artist in a “recording studio” versus the same song sung in a “live concert”. Both apps were “Fuzzy Logically” too clever. They spotted the 2 similars in next to no time. I checked 2 songs sung by the same artist “both live concerts” but with different file names &/or file size. These 2 blokes were just too smart. They caught them. That confirmed that they had a good selection of masks aka search algorithms too.

    I’d cross checked the metadata thing for another reason as well. As fellow music lovers we all know that even the best of music lovers may well be lousy music taggers. If a duplicate music finder tripped up on that it would be a catastrophe for us wouldn’t it? :)

    “Now I want to delete any songs that are from the same studio recording. I only want one copy of the studio recording. One copy may have a few more seconds of silence. Another might be in a different format. Each of those may have multiple copies with different or missing tags”.

    Bullseye! I’ve caught this everytime by using these 2 apps; they have complementary functionalities; & also by sorting. Every song of mine is perfectably categorized with all “i’s” dotted & all “t’s crossed”. Thanks to these 2 apps
    Ramesh :)

  4. Ramesh Kumar

    @Mr. Dave:

    Hi! :)
    Just quoting parts of your post just so I am able to reply you even more to the point; wrt those points :)

    “Ramesh, have you used Media Monkey to track offline files? I’m wondering if it stores enough of a “file signature” in its index to find (or prevent) duplicates across hard drives that aren’t connected”

    Friend, yes I’ve used it to track files on my hard disk. It stores sufficient “file signature” to find duplicates. I do not know whether in terms of genre if it’s search is “index” based or “non-index” based. If it’s is an “index based dupe finder algorithm” then since my C Drive is NTFS, D Drive is FAT 32 & E Drive is Fat 32 then this index based search algorithm works across both File Management sytems NTFS & FAT 32. If on the other hand you used the word “index” to mean “MediaMonkey Standard” own database aka a song inside its library then too the “dupefinder algorithm” finds same songs or is “fuzzy logical” enough to find 2 songs who algorithmically are similar 95% to 100%.

    I had done dupe searching MMS only within its library; therefore cannot confirm if it “dupe searches” even outside its library.

    Does it “find dupes” or “prevent dupes”. MMS finds dupes for sure. I don’t think it prevents dupes. Meaning (unlike MM Pro) it won’t pre-alert you if a song you intend adding to its library is a duplication of a song you’ve already added earlier.

    No sweat. The dupe finder algorithm is so well coded that at any time you just run the algorithm & in one fell swoop it will tell you all the dupes you have. It is fast, accurate & shows its search results in a well organized manner.

    To be honest I do not understand the point about “unconnected drives”. I’ve used this app (MMS) to find dupes within the library. All my songs are within the library – I’d already uplifted them from drives C, D, & E on my desktop. I had uplifted pendrive songs to the hard disk. Therefeore if you mean – does it catch dupe songs on hard disk vs. pendrive I wouldn’t know. :)
    Hope this helps
    Ramesh :)

  5. Rick

    Janet, if you’re impressed with the masking abilities in WinUtilities, I urge you to try Duplicate Cleaner for its decent masking, intelligent selection abilities, and its ability to export and import CSV lists.

    Ramesh Kumar, you suggested MP3 Organizer Pro 3 & Duplicate Music Files Finder 1.6 as able to catch “same” & also “similar”, but I think they can only do that for metadata. They can find mp3s with similar tags but can’t check for similar audio data.

    Does anyone know of a free duplicate audio finder that uses audio fingerprinting to see if it’s the same song? Failing that, how about checking for portions of matching byte-for-byte data?

    Ideally I’d like to identify and de-duplicate each performance of a song regardless of file format, bitrate, encoder, etc.

    I operate like Mr. Dave describes. To give examples:
    – I might have downloaded a song 5 times. 2 might be the original studio recording (downloaded the second time because I forgot I had it or couldn’t find it), 1 might be an extended mix, and the other 2 are live performances. I might also have one or more copies ripped from the same or different CDs (for example, the original release and a Greatest Hits).
    – Then, I might have put it on my home computer and work computer. While it was on the work computer it got re-tagged. Both the originally-tagged version and the re-tagged version could have wound up on any of 5 portable devices I have that play mp3s.
    – I’ve recently consolidated ALL of my collection onto a single 500gb drive.
    – Now I want to delete any songs that are from the same studio recording. I only want one copy of the studio recording. One copy may have a few more seconds of silence. Another might be in a different format. Each of those may have multiple copies with different or missing tags.

    So, if it can identify retagged files by ignoring the beginning and end of the file, comparing only the data in its chewy caramel center, that will help. If it can identify the audio that would help even more. Musicbrainz audio fingerprinting technology would be perfect for this, but is currently only used for tagging from an internet database AFAIK.

    http://musicbrainz.org/doc/Audio_Fingerprint

  6. Janet

    With all the utilities I’ve collected over time from Goatd and dotTech, I thought I’d compare all their dup-file-finders…..I started with WinUtilities and WOW!–it has every possible mask you can think of!!! Best of all, you can add and subtract any folders or subfolders from your search. I wanted to find where the same photo appears in various folders in H:/Graphics/Brochures as well as in H:/Photos so that when I re-edit a photo, I can put the new version in all the brochures it appears in. This looks like a perfect way! Now I’ll look for a program that does something to a file so that it automatically updates all copies of it which appear elsewhere on the computer when it’s saved….:-)….

  7. Mr. Dave

    I tend to accumulate a lot of duplicate files, mostly because I download a lot and don’t have room to keep it all in one place. I recently used Easy Duplicate Finder (take out the spaces and add the usual www & com to get the site address).
    I was very impressed at its speed, flexibility and thoroughness. Allows file mask (like *.MP3), option to protect system folders and files, limit by size ranges, and search multiple partitions and/or folders. Also has options for what to do with the duplicates (rename, move, delete). This was a real surprise amongst many tools I’ve downloaded lately.

    Same site also offers a duplicate picture finder that (I think) finds “similar” pics as well, have not tried it yet.

    Thanks Giovanni for recommendation on Double Killer, I’ll check that one out, sounds similar and may be better. Darthyoda and Ramesh, your suggestions also look good. It’s so hard to manage large volumes of data, I’m happy for any good tools that help!

    Ramesh, have you used Media Monkey to track offline files? I’m wondering if it stores enough of a “file signature” in its index to find (or prevent) duplicates across hard drives that aren’t connected.

  8. Ramesh Kumar

    @Darthyoda:

    1)Indeed Visipics is great. Besides happily enough Secunia Personal Software Inspector 1.5.0.0 (another great app) now reports that Visipics is no longer “end-of-life” but has been “security patched” as well

    2) Two excellent apps relating to finding duplicate mp3 files:-
    MP3 Organizer Pro 3 &
    Duplicate Music Files Finder 1.6

    Both catch “same” & also “similar”. Both are very effective, do not duplicate feature benefits & incidentally are free as well. MediaMonkey Standard (Free) is an excellent “music librarian” & it also catches dupes. But the best in the field are the two I mentioned – they are reliable, free of false positives & save you oodles of disk space. Scan speed is also fast
    Ramesh :)

  9. Darthyoda

    While I agree that generic dup. finders can be a pain, specialized finders can be really good. I found one for pictures that works really good, and it’s free, @ http://www.visipics.info. It has strict to fuzzy search parameters, and is good for removing duplicate clipart to duplicate photos. My brother gave me some nature scene pics for wallpaper, and then I donwloaded a bunch later on. By the time I finished removing duplicates, I removed close to 2000 pictures that were the same, or pictures that someone had put a calendar on top of the pic.

    I’m still looking for a good mp3 duplicate checker, as I know I have a bunch duplicate mp3’s, but it’s hard to find them all.

  10. Ramesh Kumar

    @Ashraf
    What a coincidence! I have CloneSpy 2.41, Duplicate Cleaner 1.4.3 & Win Utilities Professional 9.41 (the last one thanks to you). CloneSpy 2.41 offers many advanced functionalities & a very detailed helpfile too.

    Should it be possible (time permitting) I’d be grateful if you could clarify one of its unique advanced feature. Specifically I am referring to Pool 1 & Pool 2. This functionality seems to set Clone Spy 2.41 uniquely apart from other dupe finders. Since SoftChronizer got a negative review I’d be grateful if:-

    1) You kindly explain the concept of Pool1 & Pool2 of CloneSpy 2.41 or if you consider that to be inappropriate to this thread then
    2) You kindly explain (Pool 1 & Pool2) feature of CloneSpy 2.41 if & when you choose to review CloneSpy
    Thanks either way!
    Ramesh :)

  11. binaryman

    Ashraf,
    “I would like to see other criteria added such as date file created, date file modified, and date file accessed”

    Finding duplicates based on dates is completely useless. I performed the following test.
    Using the MS-Explorer I copied/pasted a file.
    The new file has the same modified date.
    The new file has a different created date.
    The new file has the same accessed date.
    The created date is today.

    Thus as you can see two identical files can have different created dates

    I use Directory Report to find dups
    http://www.file-utilities.com

    It can easily scan your entire C drive

  12. Giovanni (King of Freebies...LOL!)

    Ashraf,
    although I am not a supporter of duplicate file finders too, I think that the freeware “DOUBLE KILLER” is much better, safer and more effective than any other duplicate file finders listed in your article.

    Why??

    Because it uses user-defined masks like *.mp3 or *.dll enabling you to limit the scan to certain files so as to protect important files from being scanned.

    Furthermore with DOUBLE KILLER you can exclude files in a particular file size range or files with certain attributes, like hidden or system files.

    Please note that DOUBLE KILLER is a stand-alone executable that does not need to be installed, so it doesn’t alter the registry of your system in any way.

    Consequently there is nothing to worry about….LOL!!

    http://download.cnet.com/DoubleKiller/3000-2248_4-10407004.html

    Enjoy!!

  13. Rick

    Janet, you should use hard links if you want your files to all be modified when one is modified.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=windows+hard+link
    If you want whole directories to stay the same, one option is a synchronization tool, possibly something like SyncToy or Karen’s Replicator; another option would be using Junctions.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=windows+junction

    Ashraf, you downplay the importance of duplicate finders because they find duplicates you need to keep, but they’re best applied on a “My Documents” directory, a media partition/drive, or on your library of images/music/whatever instead of on your whole C drive.

    My music library is a mess. I recently re-collected it onto one big hard drive, from all the places where it was – hard drives on the computer at work, hard drives at home, mp3 players, netbook, SD cards, etc. I deleted 200GB of byte-for-byte duplicates in what was a 500GB collection.

    Next I need to find duplicates where I’ve changed the tags in a mp3 but haven’t changed the audio. Got any suggestions for that?

  14. Charly

    Ashraf, you have written: ‘Users must manually change the “status” of each file individually; no options to change the “status” of multiple files at once.’ … That is not correct: Softchronizer has a context menu, when you right-click on the table with the search-results. – there all is what you are missing! … I think, that your review is as good as you have made the software: it is BUGGY!!! … I also must notice you that SoftChronizer can scan for serveral path and partitions as well – and you needed to remove that comment in your review!

  15. Janet

    The only reason I have always wanted a duplicate file finder is so that when I make a change to a file, it changes the file in all the places the file is kept. Is there any program/accessory that is realistic for this task?