Microsoft SyncToy

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Most Windows veterans are power users who know the Operating System inside out. Thus, the standard workflow for them may not be optimal and they require equally powerful software. Microsoft acknowledges such needs and provides Power Tools. Microsoft SyncToy is a freeware from Microsoft that enables easy synchronizing between files and folders.


Microsoft SyncToy comes with a distraction free to-the-point interface as with other power tools and provides a list view of files and folders synced along with options in a left pane. The software in its latest version uses Microsoft Sync Framework and hence requires .NET framework installed to run. Initially, users are required to create folder pairs – these will be synchronized later on. The folder pairs can reside locally or on external media (including NAS) or network connected PCs with support for UNC paths. The browse option helps in browsing remote directories. File and directory selection for sync supports standard regular expressions and wildcards along with filtering based on attributes. The sync can be previewed to see what will actually happen when the sync is done. Deleted files are temporarily moved to “Recycle Bin” and can be thus recovered. The synchronize option mirrors the directory contents and thus copy can happen both ways and deleted files moved to recycle bin instead of permanent deletion.

Additionally, Echo operation looks for any changes in the left folders and copies the changes over to the right. Contribute option on the other hand performs an echo without file deletion. Microsoft SyncToy also has a command line version available. The software supports both 32 and 64 bit Windows and is available for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.


When it comes to Windows, there are plenty of alternatives with which it can be compared. Firstly FreeFileSync is a good third party alternative, which is open-source and free with support for volume snapshots. BitTorrent Sync uses a different approach and enables P2P networking between computers to sync files and folders. SyncBack is yet another alternative, which features synchronization along with backup facilities, which arguably makes it more feature laden. GoodSync is similarly a freemium application that enables file/folder sync with custom commands and actions.


Microsoft’s offering for power users is a no-nonsense product that not only provides users with a great tool but also demonstrates the power of Microsoft’s Sync Framework. The software itself can be used as a template for more sophisticated tool for the interested users to develop. As such, the sync procedure is incredibly fast and goes without hiccup with detailed logs for error analysis. Network and NAS support means that almost all users are covered.


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