Too much utility software these days does an excellent job of solving problems that don't exist. I'm not interested yet another program launcher, or the latest and greatest in hierarchical Apple menu utilities. But Fifth Generation's Salient Software has come up with yet another utility that solves some of my real-world problems, CopyDoubler 2.0.
CopyDoubler 1.0 did a good job at replacing and speeding up the Finder's copying routines, but it wasn't drop-dead impressive. Despite not being nearly as fast, CopyRight from CSG Technologies seemed snazzier, because it could work away on multiple simultaneous copies in the background. It was deceptive though, since much of the time when you copy files, you want to work with either the result of the copy or the source files, and a background copy doesn't finish as quickly as a foreground copy. CopyDoubler's developers figured out how to add background features and queued multiple copies to CopyDoubler, and in the process added a slew of other features that may solve some of your problems as they solved mine.
CopyDoubler is a single Control Panel. Apparently there is a trick to putting application code in a Control Panel, so it lives in the Control Panels folder but can launch as an application (which is how you can send it into the background). By default, when you start a copy, CopyDoubler launches into the foreground and starts to copy. Since it's so fast, most of the time you don't even get a chance to send it into the background, but if you're copying a lot of files to floppy and you don't need it done immediately, you can click in another application to send CopyDoubler to the back. I seldom do this, but it can be handy. If you really like background copying, you always launch CopyDoubler into the background.
CopyDoubler still comes with a number of options for verifying files written to different types of disks, and you can still use it to empty the trash faster than the Finder, or to empty the trash in the background. You now have notification options as well, since otherwise you might never know when a background copy had finished. But the truly interesting new features come with CopyDoubler's scheduled copies.
In some ways, the name is unfortunate, because a scheduled copy doesn't have to have a schedule. As you copy a file, if you hold down the control key, CopyDoubler will let you choose to copy "Now with CopyDoubler," "Later with CopyDoubler," or "Now without CopyDoubler." In addition, you can temporarily changes the settings for verification and notification, and if you use AutoDoubler as well, expand or compress the files during the copy. The ability to compress while copying is especially useful for AutoDoubler users who don't own DiskDoubler, because they can't easily compress a file manually after copying.
In any event, if you choose "Later with CopyDoubler," you can hit the Schedule button to bring up a large dialog that lets you determine when and how your copy will happen. The "When" options include at startup, restart, or shutdown; repeating every X number of hours; repeating at certain times on certain days; only via the keyboard; or postponed indefinitely. I'm sure you can figure out if timed copying appeals to you, but the option that interests me is copying via a keystroke. One of my big problems is that I have various files scattered around my hard disks that I duplicate on the PowerBook 100. These files are items like my Nisus Macros, Nisus User Dictionary, my address database, and so on. All told, there are ten or fifteen of them, and updating them manually is a major pain. None of the PowerBook synchronization programs will help (except reportedly Inline Sync) since I want to move these files from multiple source folders to multiple destination folders, which would require an individual setup in a sync program, even the one I currently like the most, FileRunner. I refuse to organize my life to suit a sync program.
Here's the trick. CopyDoubler's "only via keyboard" option lets me start a specific copy via a keystroke. But, CopyDoubler doesn't force me to choose unique keystrokes for each copy, so I chose the same one for each. Now, by hitting a single keystroke (I don't want to do this at any specific time, but I could), I can update all of these data and support files in one swell foop. Of course, all this happens via file sharing, and as long as AppleTalk is on, CopyDoubler knows enough to mount all the appropriate volumes, remembering passwords where necessary, and even dismounts them when its done. The first time I tried this and it worked I was literally jumping up and down with excitement. All too often my problems stay unsolved, but CopyDoubler did a bang-up job on that particular one.
Now, as much as CopyDoubler can in some ways double as a sync program or a backup program, keep in mind that it isn't specifically trying to do either. It has no facilities for two-way copying like a sync program, and it doesn't let you flexibly choose files like a good backup program, although its Fast Replace will only replace changed files (which is how I can quickly copy the entire folder of TidBITS issues each time). However, if you find yourself with a task that doesn't quite fit either a sync program or a backup program, check out CopyDoubler. The closest I can come to a complaint with CopyDoubler is that it has some large, nested, modal dialogs while editing scheduled copies. That's not something most people will do often, though, and it's a minor quibble. I highly recommend CopyDoubler if you've ever experienced frustration with copying files in the Finder, either in terms of speed or features.
CopyDoubler 2.0 lists for $59.95 and upgrades are available for $14.95. You can test a demo of CopyDoubler if you like; it's available on sumex-aim.stanford.edu via anonymous FTP as:
Fifth Generation Systems -- 800/873-4384 -- 504/291-7221
504/295-3268 -- firstname.lastname@example.org