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

Jessica Cam Wong 04-10-2010

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 4 Best Sites to Get 10GB Free Online Backup and Storage Read More , and to external drives.


MakeUseOf has featured a collection of backup software for Windows Top 10 Backup Software Apps For Your PC Read More , Mac Carbon Copy Cloner - A Free & Powerful Backup Utility (Mac) Read More , and Linux Backup & Restore Data And Files Easily With Back In Time [Linux] Read More . When backing up to additional locations, you probably also want to secure your files to ensure your files stay safe, whether in Windows, Linux How To Encrypt Files in Linux with eCryptfs Read More , 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, home for popular portable apps, such as essential must-haves 100 Portable Apps for Your USB Stick for Windows and macOS Portable apps let you take your favorite software anywhere via a flash drive or cloud storage. Here are 100 of them to cover your every need, from games to image editors. Read More 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:

  • 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.

    backup files

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.

backup computer files

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.

    backup computer files

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.

backup computer files

As Toucan was partly built from the source code for 7-Zip 7Zip: A Free Program to Unzip Uncommon Archive Formats Read More , 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).



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 How To Make Encrypted Folders Others Can't View with Truecrypt 7 Read More 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.

backup data and files

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.

    backup data and files

  • 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”.

    backup files

  • 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!


Related topics: Data Backup, Encryption.

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  1. Carlos
    July 14, 2017 at 10:07 am

    Does it work under linux?
    How would I restore files under a linux enviroment?

  2. Anonymous
    September 10, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    My question was, does this deal with queueing?

    Say I already have a 3 hour copy going to a specific destination - now I want to add another 3 hrs of files. Can I do that? Will they just tack on at the end, and not run simultaneously?

  3. Computer King
    February 4, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Nice overview very helpful thanks

  4. Meche03
    October 19, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    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.

  5. bla
    October 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm
  6. bla
    October 6, 2010 at 11:52 am

    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).

  7. Smayonak
    October 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    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.
      October 5, 2010 at 8:58 pm

      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
        October 5, 2010 at 11:08 pm

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

        • Jessica Cam W.
          October 6, 2010 at 1:45 am

          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.

  8. Gzerenia
    October 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I use Toucan and it's great. The only "annoyance" is that the preview does not expand folders to show what will change in the destination folders. Each folder has to be expanded manually to see the changes. If anyone knows how to get the folders to expand automatically please post the info.

    Otherwise, Toucan is outstanding!

  9. Gzerenia
    October 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    I use Toucan and it's great. The only "annoyance" is that the preview does not expand folders to show what will change in the destination folders. Each folder has to be expanded manually to see the changes. If anyone knows how to get the folders to expand automatically please post the info.

    Otherwise, Toucan is outstanding!

    • Jessica Cam W.
      October 5, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      Hmm, does the Expand All button above the Insert Variable button not do what you need?