Review: CopyTrans makes iOS management easy

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iTunes is a great tool for managing the content of your iPhone or iPad—if you can live with all of its limitations and restrictions. Like the fact that it stores your files where it wants to, and only where it wants to. And the fact that it's a resource hog. Enter CopyTrans, a useful $20 utility that puts you more in control of managing your iOS content on your Windows PC.

CopyTrans installs as part of WindSolutions's CopyTrans Suite, which includes several different applications for managing various parts of your iOS experience, such as CopyTrans Contacts and CopyTrans Photo. While it's called a suite, you purchase the applications you want individually. All of the applications include a free demo version; you can try any of them and buy the ones you like. (Note that the free version of CopyTrans limits your transfers to 100 tracks.)

CopyTrans lets you browse the contents of your iOS device, sorting it by type, genre, artist, or album.

WindSolutions bills CopyTrans as an "Easy iPhone Backup" solution, and, indeed, this application does allow you to backup some of your iPhone (and iPod and iPad) content to your computer. But its focus is solely on music, videos, apps, and playlists. It does not backup contacts or photos; you'll have to purchase a separate part of the CopyTrans Suite to accomplish that.

CopyTrans sports a basic but functional interface. It automatically detects a connected iOS device and catalogs its audio and video content. CopyTrans has two main features: Smart Backup and Manual Backup. A Smart Backup is completely automated, as it offers a one-click way to make sure all of the content on your iOS device is synced with your iTunes library. It does this quickly (transferring 233 tracks took just a few minutes) and without creating duplicate files. This can be a handy way to make sure the content you have added to your iPod or iPhone is saved in iTunes, too, whether that's because your iTunes library was lost or you're using another computer.

The Manual Backup option gives you more control over the results. You can use this feature to sync only selected contents to iTunes, or you backup the contents of your iOS device to another location on your computer. Doing this creates a location from which you can play back your tunes and videos with your favorite media player, which doesn't have to be iTunes. While CopyTrans lists your content and lets you sort it by genres, artists, albums, or playlists, it's not a media player, and doesn't allow you to play back content itself.

CopyTrans lacks some of the features found in Mobiledit, a $25 application that could be considered its rival. But where Mobiledit allows you to peruse all of the contents of your mobile phone (including iPhones) using a Windows Explorer-like folder structure, CopyTrans focuses strictly on audio, video, and apps. And you wouldn't really consider CopyTrans an iTunes rival, as it's not a comprehensive tool for transferring content between your PC and iOS device. But CopyTrans is a worthy sidekick to iTunes, as it offers more control over your iOS content than Apple's software delivers.

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