My Swiss Army knife for file operations is Windows Explorer. No, just kidding. In fact, I don't see a point in using Windows Explorer at all. It always feels like an insurmountable hassle to get this tool doing what I want quickly. (Yes, I know about Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V and their siblings.)
Anyway, I didn't want to bash Microsoft's premier file manager, instead I wanted to share a little goodie for Total Commander, a tool that deserves to be called Swiss Army knife. Total Commander is my tool of choice when it comes to doing anything with files. It's runs virtually all the time I'm in front of the computer. There's also a version for your USB stick and one for Windows Mobile and craploads of plugins to try out.
Total Commander comes with a powerful synchronization tool that allows you to compare and synchronize two directories. Because Total Commander handles zip files transparently, it allows to synchronize between a zip and a directory or between two zip files. Comparison features I've almost always enabled are the "Subdirs", "By content" and "Ignore date" checkboxes. This allows me to quickly see any differences between folders.
If a folder contains .svn or _svn subfolders to accommodate Subversion's internal bookkeeping files, Total Commander will also compare these files. Of course this is pretty useless since these files will most likely not hold information you're interested in. The Synchronize Directories dialog provides a filter text box at the top that allows you to define a pattern for files to include and ignore in the search. The syntax is simple but the tiny input field doesn't assist you defining a filter, at least it remembers the last filters used.
Here's a filter definition leaving out all files related to Subversion, it came in handy a couple of times for me.
*.*|*.svn-base all-wcprops entries format dir-prop-base
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