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[Review] SoftChronizer

{rw_text}Software reviewed in this article:

SoftChronizer [1]

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 [2]!

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.

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{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.
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{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.
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{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.
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{for=”Price” value=”7″}$19.95 is a fair price.
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{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.
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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 [3].

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

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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…

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…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”)…

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…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:

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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”:

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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:

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

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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…

[14]

…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:

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.

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WinUtilities Professional Edition [15]

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

Duplicate Cleaner [16]

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 [17]

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

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{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).
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