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Free Microsoft Software to Synchronize or Backup data between any two storage devices
The Microsoft SyncToy 2.1 application can be a free and easy way to synchronize your laptop files to the server or external USB drive, or synchronize files between offices. Although it can be used as a pseudo backup it should really be classed as a synchronization tool.



SyncToy Requirements:

microsoft synctoyMicrosoft SyncToy 2.1 can run on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7 and requires .NET Framework 2.0. Versions exist for both 32 (x86) and 64-bit systems.

Download Microsoft SyncToy version 2.1 for free at: Microsoft.com/downloads

The installation is painless and configuration is point-and-click.  The only area that may be more difficult for you is automating this application using Scheduled Tasks, shown later.


Alternatives to Synctoy

Microsoft Synctoy hasn’t been updated since 2009, so it’s pretty outdated by current standards. I no longer user it personally and have moved to using Bittorrent Sync instead. I’ll put an article together on that shortly.


Ways to use Microsoft Synctoy

1) Backup your laptop to you desktop or USB drives. Microsoft SyncToy will copy your documents, email files, and photos from your laptop to your backup automatically every day at the time you choose.

2) Synctoy can even backup your Blackberry, Android, or other Smartphone memory or SD card. Protect your contacts, photos and other data. Activating USB data services for your phone will make it show up as a drive letter. Now you can configure Synctoy to pull the information from there to your computer, or backup destination.

3) Three people are working on the same project, all at different locations.  Each morning they synchronize their portions of the project to the central shared drive, ensuring everyone has the updated versions of the other project pieces.


How to Configure Microsoft SyncToy

Once the install is complete, you can start configuring SyncToy.

Simply click Create New Folder Pair SyncToy Folder Pair button

Next, Choose your Folders. For consistency I would designate the left folder as the folder you want to backup or sync, and the right folder as the place to sync or backup to.
Synctoy folder pairs

Microsoft Synctoy offers you three types of synchronization:

  • – Synchronize (new files and any changes are copied both ways)
  • – Echo (new and updated files are copied to the destination – basically this is a backup)
  • – Contribute (like Echo, but files on the destination will not be deleted if deleted on the source)

I prefer Echo and use Microsoft SyncToy strictly as a local backup copy.

Your last option is to name the Folder Pair. Make it something obvious so that you know what it should be doing. For example: “My Documents” or “Blackberry”.


Running Microsoft SyncToy

All Folder Pairs (synchronization jobs) show up on the left side of the main window.
Microsoft Synctoy Folder Pairs
Selecting one will show the last time it was run in the bottom right of the window, along with the buttons to run this synchronization job.

Or, if you select All Folder Pairs then all jobs will run. The first run will be longer as the verification and copying of files takes place. After that Microsoft SyncToy just does updates and so sync times are faster.



How to Automate Microsoft SyncToy

Synctoy does not have any automation tools built in, however there are ways to automate it using Windows Task Scheduler and Windows Group Policy. The step-by-step details for both of these methods is included in the eBookMicrosoft Synctoy automation



This is a primer to using Microsoft SyncToy and additional details can be found in the eBook How to use Microsoft SyncToy, from Amazon,
or get the PDF via Paypal

If you are a small business and are thinking of using Synctoy for backups, we recommend CloudPockets as a more robust way to protect your data off-site, in the cloud.