Keeping files synchronised between data sources with SyncToy

Several months back, my mate Toffa told me about a tool called SyncToy that is great for keeping two disks synchronised (e.g. a primary and a backup). Last night I installed it (to make regular backups of my digital photos and music to my new external hard disk) and was very impressed. It’s actually a free Windows PowerToy and I was using v1.0 – SyncToy v1.2 is available and includes a number of enhancements.

The tool offers five modes of synchronisation between pairs of folders (left and right) and users can also preview the changes before running the synchronisation job:

  • Synchronise: 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 if the file name already exists on 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.

Microsoft are positioning this as a tool for photographers but to be honest it looks good for anyone who keeps data in multiple locations (like backing up a laptop to a server at home). I know people who swear by Novell iFolder (for keeping data synchronised, secure and available wherever they are) but SyncToy looks like a perfect synchronisation solution for many Windows users who just need to make sure that a second copy of their important files is available if the first one is lost or who want to synchronise files stored on multiple devices in a number of locations.

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