Sync, Backup & Encrypt Your Files With Toucan [Windows & Linux with Wine]

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backup filesIf you’re like me and have too many files outside my Dropbox that need to be backed up, you’ve probably been looking at ways to backup your files online, and to external drives.

MakeUseOf has featured a collection of backup software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. When backing up to additional locations, you probably also want to secure your files to ensure your files stay safe, whether in Windows, Linux, online, etc. To combine it all, Toucan is a portable and open-source syncing utility that also backups up and encrypts your data. Sounds like a neat combination, right?


You can download Toucan from PortableApps.com, home for popular portable apps, such as essential must-haves and games. The download file is about 3MB. Once installed, it occupies about 5MB of hard drive space.

The user interface is pretty straightforward, with the upper portion dedicated to rules and options, while in the lower portions, you can see the files and folders selected.

Save Recurring Jobs & Rules

You can set names for rules to exclude files based on name or file size (for more, see below), that you can also use in addition to the different modes for each function (sync, backup, secure, etc.) If you go through copying, syncing or backing up jobs that you might need to repeat in the future, you can give a name to this specific job and reuse it later on.

To exclude files and folders, go to the Rules tab, click on the disk icon to save a new rule and in the dialog box that appears, give the rule a name. Now you can click on the + icon on the right side and type either:

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  • Any text to match file name or extension
  • “>1GB” without the quotes to exclude files larger than 1GB. You can also use “<2MB” to exclude small files.
  • “<” or “>” followed by a date to exclude files modified earlier and later than the beginning of this year, respectively.

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You can choose to apply rules to files and folders (which will exclude all sub-folders as well). Any time you need to modify the rule, double-click on it, and you’ll get the Add Dialog box to exclude files, folders or locations.

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Toucan As A Syncing Utility

There are 5 synchronization modes:

  • Copy: Can be used for one-time copying.
  • Mirror: Can be used for replica copying but it also deletes files in the destination folder that aren’t in the source folder.
  • Equalise: Can be used to copy the newer versions of files to either directory.
  • Move: Copies all files to the destination folder and deletes it from the source folder.
  • Clean: Deletes any file or folder that is in the destination folder but isn’t in the source directory.

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In my test, Toucan was incredibly speedy copying 4 changed files.

Toucan As A Backup Utility

There are 4 modes you can use:

  • Complete: Regular backup of all files you’ve selected.
  • Update: Whichever newer files you have in your File List will be included on the Backup Location.
  • Differential: This mode creates a base file and later on, includes changes in different archives named after the date and time.
  • Restore: Restores archived files into folders.

You can select from 6 different compression levels, where 1 is no compression and 6 is the most compressed level which takes more time to produce the “Ultra” small file.

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As Toucan was partly built from the source code for 7-Zip, you can pick the backup file extension from either .7z (produces small files at a faster rate than .zip files), the standard .zip format (which can be used in major operating systems), and .gz (usually for Linux).

Encrypting

As Toucan was partly build using source code from the open-source command line encryption utility ccrypt, it uses 256-bit AES encryption to encrypt on the file level. The Toucan documentation states that it differs from TrueCrypt in that it doesn’t install a driver on the system, and that you can encrypt files after you save them in Toucan. Encrypted files you select on the Secure tab will have the .cpt file extension.

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You can also use it to decrypt .cpt files.

General Tips

  • Drag and drop files onto the space for selected files and folders.
  • Check the Use the Recycle Bin option under the Sync tab to move deleted files to the Bin and not permanently delete files.

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  • When you have jobs that require checking through a lot of unchanged files for just a few updated files, check the Preview Only Changes box to preview these changed files and folders.
  • You can create password-protected archives for your .7z or .zip backups if you check the Password box in the Backup tab.
  • Use variables for files and folders that change when you’re in different computers by using “@” in the name, e.g. “@docs”.

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  • To run several jobs at a time, you can create and save scripts using Lua commands (click on the Help button on the Settings tab for more commands).

As you can see, Toucan can be a handy tool to sync, backup and encrypt everything to your USB drive. Do you prefer to use separate applications for syncing/backing up and encrypting your files, or would you consider using this utility? Please share your insights in the comments!

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Comments (13)
  • Computer King

    Nice overview very helpful thanks

  • Meche03

    I was recently introduced to Toucan, but I’m wondering if it would work for me. Can toucan sync some folders from computer A (@work) and also a different set of folders from computer B (personal @home)? I want the portable HD to have files from both computers but I don’t want my personal computer to be loaded down with memory-eating work files.

  • bla

    The biggest bug is having no support to sync specific files. You can supposedly simulate it via rules (rule #1: ignore everything. rule #2 don’t ignore specific files) but sub-folders are still copied (copied emptied but copied).

  • Smayonak

    Sorry if this comment is off-topic – Jessica, what kind of image editing software do you use to create such great text bubbles and arrows?

    • Jessica Cam W.

      Glad you asked! I use the free Screenpresso which you can read more about here and is portable. Just select to add a textbox (choose Bubble as opposed to Default type) and set the filling to 0%. Screenpresso’s arrows are awesome like that.

    • Bfreitas6140

      But how did you do the zoomed circle under General Tips?

    • Jessica Cam W.

      Believe it or not, I also use FastStone ScreenCapture 5.3‘s Screen Magnifier. ==> Lot more steps, but at least the screenshots aren’t annoyingly unreadable.

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.