Sunday, February 01, 2009

Software Review: Executive Sync

Software Review Executive Sync
Executive Sync Review

At one point in history, the word "executive" tended to stand for some type of higher-end product, or a product with special features that separated it from the merely ordinary. Unfortunately, today, when we hear "executive" we think of corruption, bribes, and incompetence. Executive Sync tends to use the newer, less appealing meaning of the word. However at $29.99, it won't wipe out your 401(k) unlike those other "Executives."

Executive Sync promises to sync files "to servers running Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, and more" as well as "keep your work or personal files up-to-date between home, office, and on the road." It does...but not really. I had inaccurately assumed the product was similar to Sugar Sync or Drop Box: I specify the computers I want synced and this happens in the background. I was wrong.

Executive Sync runs only on a Mac and the way it syncs is by mounting volumes from Windows, Linux and other operating systems. If you want to sync with a Windows machine, you must network your Mac to the PC and Executive Sync treats the Windows machine just like another disk. SMB file sharing is not a simple task for the average user. More importantly, in order to sync files you must be currently networked to the system you want to sync files with. Unlike other programs that sync through the Internet, Executive Sync requires you to remember to sync the files before you leave the office. Not sure how handy that is "on the road." In theory, you could set up a complex VPN so you could connect to your home or office computer from the road, but that is technology that costs significant money and I doubt the average person has any type of setup like that. If they did, they would have probably write their own software to sync files.

Inaccurate marketing aside, Executive Sync does synchronize files between two folders mounted on your Mac. The program was able to find subtle differences between two folders and keep them in check. It does not do this automatically. You must manually start the program and run the sync. While there is a scheduling option, the scheduling only allows you to make sure the files are in sync at the time of scheduling. If the files are out of sync, you won't be notified until the program runs again. Not only does this make it less convenient, but the program is quite slow. I synchronized two folders on my MacPro with about 40 GB of files and it took almost four hours. While running, the program was a processor hog and I couldn't do much else.

The final nail in the coffin of Executive Sync is the fact there is virtually no tech support for the product. It is distributed by Smith Micro, which has no technical support information for the product. When you click the link for tech support, it simply takes you back to the product information page. The product is not listed in their tech support forums or contact pages. The help section of Executive Sync is acceptable, but can never replace technical support if you have an issue that goes beyond what is covered in the help.

Ultimately, the product does the basics of what it says: synchronizes files between two folders. The user interface was straightforward and easy to understand and the installer was the standard drop into the application folder. The program lets you pick which folders you want synchronized and allows you to save the settings. However, the marketing is misleading as to the scope of what the product does and the inability to get technical support on the product makes it a program that is best to avoid when so many other higher quality options exist with more features.

Pros: Does accurately synchronize folders
Cons: Misleading marketing, extremely slow, no tech support

1 out of 5 dogcows


Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right