Free way to compare two folders in Windows

Here’s my reasonably quick and free way to compare the files in a folder.  I’ve assumed a bit of computer knowledge, mostly, because I don’t have time to fill in the many little details.

Get a copy of WinMerge from Sourceforge – it’s a tool often used by programmers to see differences in text files.

Open a command window

– e.g. start –> run –> “cmd”

Create a text file with the names, sizes, and date stamps from folder “A”

– e.g. dir c:\the_documents\*.* > this_computer.txt

Do the same for folder “B”

– e.g. dir \\that_computer\c$\the_documents\*.* > that_computer.txt

Open both files in WinMerge.

– the differences in the two “dir” outputs will be higlighted for you.

Now if you’re still not sure if the files are the same or now, e.g. if the files are the same size but have different date stamps, then search for a utility called “md5sums”.  This will create md5 hashes of all files in a folder.

e.g. c:\tools\md5sums -n “\\distribution\c$\program files\cybex\*.*” > distrib2.txt

That’s it.  It’s been a couple weeks since the last blog post. We’ve been busy at Perceptus.  Our next project is going live soon – retailers with multiple locations in BC and Alberta, watch this space.  Our next product is geared for you!

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2 Responses to “Free way to compare two folders in Windows”

  1. leonard Says:

    Some added detail… since I’m using my own trick today.

    Be sure to add a sort order by name, i.e. “dir /on” to the command so that both lists are comparable.

    Also, search the web for a web based “diff” tool, then you won’t need to install WinMerge – I don’t have any suggestions on specific sites, but I’m trying the first one on the Google search results now. This worked a lot better than I expected:

  2. Leonard Says:

    More on merge tools:
    A couple there look good too.

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