Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Looking for My Briefcase in Windows? Microsoft SyncToy is Your Solution!

Remember the days where you had multiple devices that could sync from one location on Windows?  Well, when Windows 7 launched I assumed that something like this would exist as a built in feature.  I was wrong.

Instead, Microsoft seems to have gotten into the habit of releasing smaller applications as addons for Windows as part of the PowerToys range; one of these is Microsoft SyncToy.  According to Microsoft, 'SyncToy 2.1 is a free application that synchronizes files and folders between locations. Typical uses include sharing files, such as photos, with other computers and creating backup copies of files and folders'.

Just last week I was in the position where I needed to have a synchronised set of data that existed on two servers (not ideal I know but it couldn't be helped in this case) and there wasn't any built in solution that I could find.  After a bit of searching around I came across SyncToy 2.1 from Microsoft.  And it does exactly what it says on the tin.  There are both 32 and 64 bit versions available here for your download pleasure.

SyncToy has a friendly interface, that gives you the choice from where you want to sync from (left folder) and where you want to sync to (right folder).  There are then three types of sync that you can do:
  • Synchronize: Does a left and right sync which includes deletes and renames;
  • Echo: Updates and new files are copied left to right including deletes and renames;
  • Contribute: Same as echo without deletes;
So far it's all easy stuff, but it's not all rosy and nice though as the application does have one major shortcoming - built in scheduling.  It can be done but it involves you setting up a scheduled task from within Windows using the following syntax: 'C:\Program Files\SyncToy 2.1\SyncToyCmd.exe -R "Your Sync Name Goes Here"' which is fairly straight forward.

So there you have it, the return of Microsoft Briefcase!  I've tested all three syncs and they all work well, as does the scheduled task.  My only criticisms are that this should be part of the OS and also the scheduling should be built in.

On a final note, I've been working on a web paper recently located over at called the Web Feed which takes a look at an in depth range of articles from around the web and also takes a look at the latest in technology news.