Most of the backup software available today compresses the backed up files in order to save disk space. Some of them also store the backups in special proprietary file formats so that many files and folders are backed up in a single backup file. These methods have advantages of their own but many people want to be able to access files in the backup directly without having to extract them from a compressed backup archive. If you are one of those users then a synchronization tool like Microsoft SyncToy might prove to be more useful for you.
Microsoft SyncToy is a free Windows application that synchronizes files and folders between two locations. You have to create a folder pair and the rest is handled by SyncToy. You can use it to regularly sync your files to a remote location, share your files (e.g., videos, photos etc.) and create backup copies of files and folders.
You can download SyncToy from Microsoft’s website. The download is a setup installer of around 3 megabytes in size. It is supported on Windows XP, Vista and 7. During the setup process it installs some Microsoft .NET 2.0 services. After the installation, you can run it from its Start Menu shortcut. The first thing to do after running SyncToy is to create a folder pair.
You can click on the Create New Folder Pair button to start the folder pairing process. This basically inovolves three steps. In the first step, you have to select two folders to be synced with each other – one left folder and one right folder. In the second step, you have to choose the synchronization action – synchronize, echo or contribute. The Synchronize action allows updating files and operations taken on files in both directions. The Echo action only sends the updated files and file operations from the left folder to the right folder. The Contribute action is similar to the Echo method only it limits the file operations to renaming files. Finally in the third step, name the folder pair connection and click on the Finish button.
Once you have created one or more pairs of folders, you can select them by clicking on the pair name from the left side list in the main SyncToy window. Then you can click on the Run button to run the synchronization which would be done as per the sync action you have selected. You can change the sync action (Synchronization, Echo or Contribute) and folder pair options (like which files to exclude, which files to include, save overwritten files in recycle bin etc.) from this window.
Microsoft SyncToy is a very easy to use synchronization tool. It is a highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different folders. You can use it to share your files and create backups not only between folders on your local hard disk drives but across a network too.
You can download Microsoft SyncToy from http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15155.