SyncToy for Windows XP

SyncToy for Windows XP

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If you're like me, you probably have thousands of digital photos and documents that you want to backup or copy to external media. In my case, I copy everything to an external 160GB XIMETA NetDisk for safe keeping. I have used the free version of Allway Sync in the past, and I've had very good results. However, we recently released a handy tool for Windows XP called SyncToy, and based on my few days of experience, it appears to do everything I need. Here are a few of its features:

  • Provides easy and flexible copying, moving, and synchronization of files in different directories
  • Manages multiple sets of directories at the same time
  • Can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another
  • Keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder

Configuring SyncToy is as easy as setting up one or more folder pairs and corresponding actions for each pair. For example, I might setup one pair to synchronize changes between two folders (which works both ways) and setup another pair to simply echo changes from one folder to another (echo is the action I use for backup purposes). If you want to get more specific, there are additional options that can be configured.

If you'd like to know what operations SyncToy would perform on your folder pairs, you can run the convenient preview feature. The preview feature analyzes the folders, then tells you what it would do if it ran, but—most importantly—it doesn't actually make any of the changes. This is a great way to get comfortable with the tool before letting it loose on your precious files. And if you want to automatically process your folder pairs, there's even a topic in the help file (lookup Schedule in the index) that explains how to schedule SyncToy to run on a periodic basis.

Download SyncToy v1 Beta for Windows XP or to learn more, grab the whitepaper titled: Synchronizing Images and Files in Windows XP Using Microsoft SyncToy.

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  • I thought I could use SyncToy to ECHO the files in my Documents folder to the CD-RW drive folder (for backup purposes).

    No dice.
  • Does anyone know if you can install synctoy on both machines that are to be kept in sync. That way I can run it from which ever machine I'm on.
    I was concerned the SyncToyDirPairs.bin file it creates will get copied and overwrite the SyncToyDirPairs.bin on the other machine.
  • It is very cool but won't delete empty folders. I have two computers with lots of AVI files in many folders. When I delete all the AVIs in folder A and move them to folder B on one computer the SyncToy won't delete folder A on the other computer. I have tried invane and it just won't work. Major flaw!
  • Can't get this to even install since I have .Net framework 2.0 installed.  It says it requires a lower version number.
  • Not being able to delete directories in echo mode makes Synctoy pretty much useless for me.  Who the hell wants a bunch of empty directories laying around?
  • Hi. Thanks for the feedback on SyncToy.

    Deleting empty directories - this was a bigger task than we had time for in v1.0. It's on the feature list for v2.0. For 1.0, we based our decision to not to the work to delete empty directories on how other sync'ing programs like RoboCopy behave.

    SyncToy v1.x requires the .Net Framework 1.1. It works to have both versions of the Framework installed - when I tested it, I could install SyncToy as long as fx1.1 was installed, then I added fx2.0 for the other apps that require it.

    Thanks for the suggestions. We're definitely listening to what users are saying, although we cannot promise that every request will make it into the next release.

  • Hi, I've been trying for some time to get SyncToy to run as a scheduled task.

    It works great when I'm logged in, but I share my computer with others, and I really want it to run for them too. Am I missing a trick here? HiggiML above says it works fine...but gives no details. Can anyone help?
  • I would like to know if I can use this to backup from multiple PCs on a network to one external USB 2.0 drive on one of the PCs??
  • I could now with version 1.2 access an external drive as my backup file. But I cannot get the scheduled run to work. Is there something special I need to do other than the instructions in Help??
  • i can't have it to work within the task manager
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft\SyncToy\SyncToy.exe" -R

    the respond in the log file is :
    SYNC: 04/22/2006 00:30:04:035: Beginning SyncToy run for all folder pairs.
    SYNC: 04/22/2006 00:30:04:316: *** Exception: It is invalid to show a modal dialog or form when the application is not running in UserInteractive mode. Specify the ServiceNotification or DefaultDesktopOnly style to display a notification from a service application.
  • how to make it run silently?

    or as a service so that it wirks even when you are not logged in? (e.g. screen saver comes on and pc goes into standby)
  • I also cannot get SyncToy to run as a scheduled task.  I created a new user account "backup" that has a password so that it can run scheduled jobs.  However, SyncToy never seems to actually run.  The log says it is starting, but nothing is copied and the job finishes too quickly.
  • The download page for the .NET Framework 1.1 gives a 404 when it redirects to get the package.  As others have noted, the 2.0 framework won't do it for this installer.

    Why must Microsoft break its websites this way? :(
  • This program looked very promising but unfortunately turned out to be a damp squib when discovering that it does not delete empty folders. After having done a couple of days work, moving, creating and deleting files and folders etc. The destination ends up a complete mess of empty folders in amongst the "live" ones. This should have been a fundamental requirement not an afterthought.
  • I used it to back up large amounts of data from an NDAS device to another computer. During that week, people have rearranged their files. Now, when I compare the backup to the orginal files, it appears that Synctoy just kept making backups of the new or rearranged files, but NOT deleting them from the backup. This solution is completely useless.

    I decided to run it at home so I can backup the My Documents folder. I also had the same person. We are both using Echo to copy the contents of the My Documents folder to an external HDD. Guess what? after a week or so of doing this, when I right click on My Documents and look to see the file size and the amount of files and directories, it is VERY different than the one of the backup HDD. If it was truely echoing data, they should be extactly the same.

    As far as I can tell, this program is usless for backing up data. I will definitely recommend people not use it.
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