Beyond Compare is intended to compare, merge, and synchronize folders and files. In this respect, the tool finds the differences for you so that you can focus on making the best decisions. Luckily, the tool supports not only local folders but also FTP directories, networked drives and even data stored on the Cloud. Likewise, it allows comparing a wide array of file types, including document, data, executable, picture and binary files.
Beyond Compare has a simple-to-use interface, which supports side-by-side comparison. Luckily, it is possible to drag and drop the desired item onto the spaces in the main window. The preview type depends on the kind of item you are comparing. For example, if it is a folder, you get a tree view list of the contained files and subfolders. Similarly, it lets you preview the contents of image and text files. In the case of folders, you can specify the depth of the comparison, which may be limited to file size and modification date only but can also imply a byte-per-byte comparison of file contents.
It is excellent that for some types of files, you can make changes directly from within Beyond Compare without the need of an external editor. Yet, it is a shame that this is not possible for DOC or PDF files, which are so commonly used. To help you spot the differences, the program highlights and colors conflictive parts of the text, which is mostly useful for HTML, programming code and text files. What is more, you can create your own rules to meet specific needs.
There is also a very convenient 3-way merge feature, which is only available from the Pro version, but still requires special mention. It is intended to compare two versions of a document and create a completely new version taking fragments from the source files. Fortunately, you get help from a color code, so you just need to make such decisions as accepting, rejecting or merging the changes. And even better, it is possible to leave all the work for the program, which can solve conflicts with versions of the same file automatically.
All in all, Beyond Compare is an excellent tool in the hands of network administrators and webmasters or anyone who needs to work with large collections of files and folders. It is shareware, which means it can be tried at no cost. Besides, it is available in two editions: Standard and Pro.
- Supports various types of locations
- Supports many types of files
- Automatically signals conflicts and differences using appropriate coding
- Merges file versions automatically
- Three-way comparison
- Does not allow editing PDF or DOC files