Best Free File Comparison Utility



A file comparison utility helps you visually compare and merge the differences between two (or more) different versions of the same file, or detect the variations between two different sets of data. These types of utilities are often called "Diff" programs.

Different types of file comparison utilities exist, each tailored for specific types of data and file formats. Here we found only two free products that warranted recommendation.


Rated Products


An excellent text file comparison tool

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Runs on a Windows based system, but can handle DOS, UNIX, and MAC, text file formats.
Doesn't work with word processor or spreadsheet type documents because they include special formatting and markup.
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A capable diff and merge program available on multiple platforms

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Has many same features as WinMerge; supports multiple platforms; comprehensive user guide.
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I needed to compare two HTML files today and found both Beyond Compare 3 and ExamDiff lacking.

In my search I found the free version of Code Compare at:

And it is great! It has wordwrap, which was missing from the other two, and made comparing the files very easy.

Check it out.

A simple and fast file comparer is CDCheck. It's listed in the "Best Free CD Recovery Utility" category. Because of this I feel many people would never discover CDCheck. The beauty of the program is that " CDCheck provides the following features: readability verification, binary compare, CRC file creation (and verification) and file recovery.

I use it sometimes to compare/ verify that the folders/files that I've copied to a backup external drive are bit for bit the same.

WinMerge now has a portable version

Have a look at Meld.. It reminds me of Araxis Merge..

It has binaries for Windows, OS-X, and LINUX as well.

Note it appears OpenCandy was removed from WinMerge in the 2.13.21 - 2012-12-30 (r7575) update:
Installer: Remove OpenCandy from the InnoSetup installer (r7572, r7539)

Your info is now bad due to updates...WinMerge dropped the running on W9x an XP about version 2.12.something.
I need it to run on W98SE but those ver now will not run there.
I have requested an older version from them because I have not been able to find a workable version for W9x.


I'm looking for a software that compares text files and considered the following 2 files as equals:

File "A":
bla bla

File "B":

It needs to highlights any others differences.

I still didn't find, yet, any software (free or paid) that has this feature!

I'm willing to use *nix alternative if there is no windows solution.

Thanks in advance

From the description of SyncToy, this looks more like a Folder Synchronization Utility as opposed to a file compare utility.

WinMerge got updated to 2.14.0

Here some added features plus some bug fixes:

Update PCRE to version 8.10
Update SCEW to version 1.1.2
Improve startup time (#2788142)
Add menuitems for selecting automatic or manual prediffing
Add accelerator keys for Shell context menu
Add /xq command line switch for closing WinMerge after identical files and not showing message
Allow setting codepage from command line
Allow giving encoding name as custom codepage
Add options GUI for quick compare limit
Expand/collapse folders from keyboard
Improve detecting XML files in file compare
Lots of language updates

There is also a new player called Diffuse: