How to sync folders using SyncToy in Windows 10

SyncToy is an excellent tool, which allows you to sync folders in Windows 10 in few clicks. Synchronizing a folder pair is required pretty often, especially if you download a lot or you work on multiple computers. While there are cloud services that can do this, but if you are looking at something which is not hooked to the cloud and is pure local sync solution, this tool is perfect. It works across the network if permissions are available.

How to sync folders using SyncToy in Windows 10

SyncToy is an official software from Microsoft. It allows us to set up folders to sync in such a way that any modification in one folder is instantly available on another. Yes, you can configure it further to set up one-way sync, or only act as a contributor and so on.

Once you download, install, and launch SyncToy, you get to see a window that asks you to create a folder pair, i.e., define the source and destination folders.

How to sync folders using SyncToy in Windows 10 (Internet not required)

Once you have created a folder pair, move on and decide what you want to do out of three available options, i.e., Synchronize, Echo, or Contribute.

Sync, Echo or Contribute for Sync Folders

What are the Synchronize, Echo, and Contribute?

  • Synchronize: It will maintain an exact copy of files in both the folders.
  • Echo: Any new and modified files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Contribute:  While the new and updated files are copied left to right, there is no deletion.

Later, after this step, you will be asked to name this folder, which will save you from creating the folder pair every time you want to sync these folders.

How to synchronize folders using SyncToy in Windows 10
Options for Syncing

In addition to the names of each folder pair you have created, the left navigation menu will also contain an entry for “All Folder Pairs.” Selecting “All Folder Pairs” allows you to preview or run multiple folder pairs at a time.

When you run the preview mode, you can view all operations.  It includes folder creation, deletion, overwrites, renames, and so on. A summary of this becomes available in the preview window. Finally, when you run the sync between the folders, you get exhaustive details of success, failure of each of the operations.

Inclusion and Exclusion during Folder Sync

The ‘Change options…’ allow you to make Exclusions and inclusions by defining file types and based on other attributes etc. as shown below. Once done with all these, you can go ahead and preview, which allows you to preview the run.

Inclusion and Exclusion to sync files
Options to filter file types
  • Files to include: Specify what files to include in the SyncToy run. The default is to include all the files. You can customize SyncToy to include only specific files, such as *.jpg, to include only .jpg files. To add multiple extensions, separate them using a semicolon.
  • Files to exclude: Specify what files to eliminate in the SyncToy run. By default, this text box will be blank. The exclusion text box provides the ability to leverage a wild card character similar to the inclusion text box. Also, multiple values can be specified using a semicolon between each, as described above, for the inclusion text box.
  • Exclude read-only files, hidden files, and system files.
  • Check file contents: This option is off by default. When running with “check file contents” selected, SyncToy will perform a SHA1 hash against all files. Selecting this option will make a SyncToy preview or take longer but provides a guarantee that SyncToy will never conclude that two files with the same name, size, and date are identical when in fact, their contents are different.
  • Select subfolders: Specify which subfolders to include. The default is to include all subfolders, but you can use this option to unselect folders that you do not want to add in the SyncToy run.
  • Active for a run all: This option is on by default. This folder pair will be selected by default when you view multiple folder pairs before running all folder pairs. You can always unselect a pair from the multiple folder pair screen before running. If this folder pair could be part of a frequent SyncToy set of actions, such as nightly backups, select this option.
  • Save overwritten files in the Recycle Bin: This option is on by default. Before overwriting an older file with a newer file or deleting a file, by default, SyncToy will move the older data to the Recycle Bin. If this option is unchecked, the older data is overwritten with the newer file. If you delete a folder or file, it will be gone forever. You cannot recover older files after this, but it will occupy less space on the storage.

How to schedule Folder Sync using SyncToy

This software is pretty old, and developers did not add automatic sync or way to run the sync operation every few minutes. If you would have expected real-time sync, it is not there. The only way out is using Task Manager.

  1. Type Task Manager in the Start menu, and click on it when it appears.
  2. In the Task Manager, select Create Basic Task in the Actions pane on the right.
  3. Add a Name and Description and select Next.
  4. Choose when you want the task to star and date/times (if applicable) to run the task and select Next.
  5. Choose Start a Program option and select Next.
  6. Select Browse and locate the SyncToyCmd.exe.
  7. Type “-R” in the Add Arguments textbox. –R all by itself will run all folder pairs that are active for a run all. If you want to run just a single folder pair, add –R “My Pair” to the end of the command line. If the folders have space in their name, then make sure to use the quotes.

SyncToy is amazing utility, simple and easy to use, light on resources, and pretty fast as well, a must-have service for windows. Go ahead and give it a try, do share your views about SyncToy via comments.

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