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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Review: SyncToy – Copy and Backup Your Files

SyncToy 2.0 a free utility that makes it easier to copy and back up files from your computer to the network, external drives, or other computers. Using a “folder pair” concept,  SyncToy lets you define one or more folders to keep in sync.

Folder-pair creation in SyncToy 2.0 is done with a three-step wizard, where you specify two folders, type of copy or sync action, and a name for the folder pair. When you’re done, you can preview and run a sync on one or more folder pairs.

SyncToy 2.0 offers three: Synchronize, Echo, and Contribute.  When you select an action in the folder-pair wizard, you get a short description of each action in the UI, so it’s easy to choose the type you need. Here’s how they work:

Synchronize: Copies new and updated files in both directions. If you rename or delete a file in one folder, that action is replicated in the other
Echo: Copies new and updated files and performs deletes and renames only from the left folder to the right
Contribute: Copies new and updated files on the left to the right while ignoring deletions.

Microsoft SyncToy 2.0

Key Features

  • Dynamic Drive Letter Assignment: Drive letter reassignment will now be detected and updated in the folder pair definition.
  • True Folder Sync: Folder creates, renames, and deletes are now synchronized for all SyncToy actions.
  • Exclusion Filtering Based on Name: File exclusion based on name with exact or fuzzy matching.
  • Filtering Based on File Attributes: The ability to exclude files based on one or more file attributes (Read-Only, System, Hidden).
  • Unattended Folder Pair Execution: Addressed issues related to running scheduled folder pairs while logged off.
  • Folder Pairs With Shared Endpoints: Ability for folder pairs associated with the same or different instances of SyncToy to share end-points.
  • Command line enhancements: Added the ability to manage folder pairs via the command line interface.
  • Re-Architect Sync Engine: The SyncToy engine has been rearchitected to provide scalability and the ability to add significant enhancements in future releases.
  • Sync engine is also more robust insomuch that many single, file level errors are skipped without affecting the entire sync operation.
  • Sync Encrypted Files: Sync of Encrypted files works when local folder and files are encrypted, which addresses the common scenario involving sync between local, encrypted laptop PC folder and remote, unencrypted desktop PC folder.
  • 64-Bit Support: SyncToy now has a native 64-bit build (x64 only) for 64-bit versions of Windows.
  • Folder pair rename
  • Sub-folder Exclusion Enhancements: Descendents created under excluded sub-folders are automatically excluded. Usability improvements for the sub-folder exclusion dialog.
  • Folder Pair Metadata Moved: Folder pair metadata removed from MyDocuments to resolve any issues with server-based folder pair re-direction setup.
  • Setup Improvements: Integrated setup with single self-extracting archive file and no extra downloads if you already have .NET Framework 2.0 installed. Enabled silent install for the SyncToy Installer file (see readme.txt file for more information). Removed combine and subscribe actions.
  • Removed combine and subscribe actions.

While SyncToy is well-designed and -tested, it isn’t part of Windows and is not supported by Microsoft. However, there is a very active and responsive group of people on the SyncToy forum where you can ask questions, get help from others. More importantly, it provides me with a quick, easy and simple application to help organize my wife`s digital photos onto our Windows Home Server for backup, and universal viewing.


  1. http://www.microsoft.com/prophoto/downloads/synctoybeta.aspx
  2. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2008.12.synctoy.aspx

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Mark Hanlon


Mark is an avid photographer, Starbucks addict, motivated cyclist, struggling runner, and rocking single parent living outside of Toronto, Ontario. Living with two chronic ilnesses, Crohn’s Disease and Diabetes, life for this Transportation Planner and Registered Professional Planner (RPP) can be an interesting mix.