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File compare/merge tools, which do you prefer?


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I've been a big fan of WinMerge for many years, and also the 64bit branch that is currently in development, but after seeing the Witcher Script Merge tool uses a version of KDiff3, it got me wondering which tool might be better.


So which tool do you prefer and why?

  • Ideally the tool should be able to handle large files, which is why the 64bit WinMerge is appealing.
  • 3-way file compare is a bonus, which WinMerge currently lacks.
  • Various in-built syntax highlighting.
  • Extensibility via plugins or other methods.
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I think of KDiff3 as a basic folder/text file comparison tool and it's fine if that's all you need, although I haven't used KDiff3 in a couple of years primarily because it didn't meet my needs. As phazer notes, 3-way compare sounds nice but I've never used it.


I haven't used WinMerge in years, so I don't consider myself qualified to comment on it.


I am a huge fan of Beyond Compare because it's very powerful and is very easy to use to merge changes. Besides the standard folder and text compare/merge, it also supports binary (hex) files, tables, MP3 files, pictures, the registry (although I've never used registry compare), and it has a built-in folder sync. It also saves a history of sessions, so it's easy to go back in time to re-run a sync between Mod Organizer and my Mod Organizer backup folder. The two selling points in my opinion are the Folder Compare and the very easy to use Compare/Merge functionality.

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Both KDiff3 & WinMerge have directory/folder compare and the ability to perform merges.

As for comparisons of other filetypes, I use a number of smaller specific tools to do that so I'm more interested in the text comparisons. Thought o be honest the table comparisons do look useful.


I have never really been a fan of any closed-source/commercial software that is so priced to drive the part-time coder, such as myself, away.

I can't justify US $30 for something that can be done for free. I've never used Beyond Compare, only gone on reviews of others, but I can't see that the feature set or performance is greater than the others. But to each his own, I'm not going to champion the open-source method over closed-source just to bolster my decisions.

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I do file compares often and by far the most complete and useful tool is Beyond Compare. That being said, it is of course not free (except the 30 day trial).


Pretty much every one of the free tools I have tried are missing functionality that is really useful but they are fine for simple merges.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I use KDiff3.


Works as well for two files as three. I like the simple window explorer integration. Click and select a file to compare later works for me. That and if you use git at all it is a tool you need or something similar. Best feature is the price.

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