Some of Microsoft’s most genius products are both free and under-publicized. Over the summer I wrote about Cleartype, and today I would like to introduce you to SyncToy. SyncToy makes tasks like file backup, replication and synchronization super simple, and version 1.4 runs on Windows 2000, XP and Vista.
With SyncToy, you start by creating folder pairs, for example your My Pictures folder on your home machine and an external drive. You then pick your desired flavor of sync. The choices are:
- Synchronize – New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
- Echo – New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
- Subscribe - Updated files on the right are copied to the left.
- Contribute – New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.
- Combine - New and updated files are copied both ways. Nothing happens to renamed and deleted files..
I use Synchronize to mirror My Documents on my laptop and desktop since I create and edit on both computers. And, I use Echo to backup all of my content from my desktop to an external drive (although I could see how Combine might be safer). Subscribe would be handy if you have a subset of documents on portable media that you update offsite and want to re-sync when you return.
A nice feature is that all actions can be previewed, and recovery of deleted files is as easy as fishing them out of the recycle bin. Cooler still, SyncToy can be scheduled, reducing my excuses for not performing nightly or weekly backups. Step-by-step instructions for adding SyncToy to your Scheduled Tasks are in the Help document.
Download SyncToy 1.4