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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  • Agree with Mike Cline above - just installed SyncToy 1.4 on my freshly installed XP box with .Net 2.0 only (no 1.1). I can exclude entire subfolders but it ignores this setting and copies them anyway. Please fix this glaring mistake - it is making SyncToy 1.4 unusable  at the moment.

  • In echo mode it doesn't delete files in the right directory which are deleted in the left one.

  • Note that excluding a subfolder only excludes files within the subfolder. To exclude nested subfolders you still have to untick them yourself. You can right-click on a subfolder to have SyncToy do this for you.

  • Richard Bates wrote:

    *** Note that excluding a subfolder only excludes files within the subfolder. To exclude nested subfolders you still have to untick them yourself. You can right-click on a subfolder to have SyncToy do this for you. **8

    Err... yes we are doing this. It still does not exclude them from any Sync actions.

  • Sync toy is great, (here it comes) but it's failing when run as a scheduled task. It's failing with the exit code 0xe0434f4d, and I have the following errors in the Event Viewer: "The COM+ Event System failed to create an instance of the subscriber partition" and "EventType clr20r3, P1 synctoy.exe, P2, P3 453f990b, P4, P5, P6 4333aefa, P7 3d21, P8 ee, P9 system.invalidoperationexception, P10 NIL."

  • Synctoy 1.4 would be great if the exclude folders would work.

    I try to back up my My Documents folder, without the 2 folders My Music and My Pictures (as well as their sub-folders).

    And every time, those 2 folders and their subfolders are copied...

  • Why oh why won't MS do a file exclude box? When working with photos I'm always having to manually uncheck some .ini file in each of my 100's of folders.

    Is there some way to do it in the "include" box maybe with with a minus sign???

    This would be a great tool if for only this one thing (for me).


  • I second most of the remarks here.  The tool is a good one for casual users that want to copy photos etc to multiple locations but has serious limitations for advanced users.  In the server world, synchronization means just that.  After a sync the target directory is identical to the source regardless of what was moved/added/deleted or when.  This tool will not delete directories and will not create empty directories as well as a few other limitations.  It's a FILE based copy utility rather than a DIRECTORY based sync tool.

    **Also, for any advanced user the need to save the setup (directory pair and configs) is critical to ensure that the PC admin or user never looses all of the work of setting up dozens of directory pairs.  Other sync utitilies IE All ways allows you to save the profile and then use it anywhere, reinstall, rebuild the PC, whatever and instantly recover the synch configs.  SyncToy?????  So when I rebuild my PC I loose all the synch configs and start over?  Sync'Toy' is the correct name.  Not bashing the product.  Great for casual users as I said, but a toy at best

  • SyncToy 1.4 does have some serious problems. I tried to sync two directories, and it suggested deleting about 3,000 files from the local side, even though exactly the same files were on the remote one, in exactly the same directories, with exactly the same date and time stamps and sizes. I have no clue why... Then, when I run the whole thing again, it copies them back over! Strange thing is, though, when I choose to echo rather than synchronize, it doesn't complain at all... Weird.

  • I have a problem using synctoy on several machines to keep a series of copies of my data. The tool keeps ignoring lots of files and folders when they DO need to be copied. If i run it on an individual folder it works fine. If I try a whole group of folders and subfolders it seems to ignore stuff at random.

    Any ideas?


  • Ok, I think I may have found a fix. I have deleted all the SyncToyDirectoryId.txt files and rerun the sync job and that appears to be working properly. My guess is that the SyncToyDirectoryId.txt files somehow because I'm using synctoy on several machines. It is just a guess though!

    Seems a messy way to do it, maybe it's an attempt to make it run faster but I'd prefer it to sct as if it were the first time every time, it seems to work then!


  • I have the problem with autorun; I also have the problems mentioned with exclusions and matching multiple devices.  There is no option to *ignore* previous information and simply do a full check on the files.  This program is not a proper "utility"; it's more like a throwaway experiment someone did as a training exercise.  If they're not going to support it properly, at least post the source somewhere and let people tweak it themselves.

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  • i tried to echo to my usb hard disk.  i was expecting it to delete files on it that did not exist in the specified folders on the "left" its tedious to go through and manually delete files on 2 drives.

  • I use Synctoy to quickly sync files from home, laptop, work PCs using USB stick.  I merely sync entire My Documents folder.  Trouble is that Synctoy files are stored in My Documents folder, which causes errors.  Sometimes Synctoy ends up looking for folder pairs from another PC.  Should be a way to direct where Synctoy stores these operating files, i.e. not in My Documents.  

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