I was answering some questions in the Microsoft Answers forums earlier today and one of them was about syncing two folders to make sure the files in one were in the other and vice versa.  In this case it was a set of music files.

In Windows 7 you could copy one set of folders and paste it over the folder you want to be a match and as long as you select to merge the folders instead of overwrite you will get matching folders. Of course you would have to make sure you then did the same thing in the other direction to get a 100% match.

Well there is an easier way to match a set of folders and only copy the files that need to move in each direction using the Microsoft SyncToy and that is what I suggested to the individual in the forum.

There are files from all kinds of sources that we want to store and manage. Files are created by our digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops. Increasingly, computer users are using different folders, drives, and even different computers (such as a laptop and a desktop) to store, manage, retrieve and view files. Yet managing hundreds or thousands of files is still largely a manual operation. In some cases it is necessary to regularly get copies of files from another location to add to primary location; in other cases there is a need to keep two storage locations exactly in sync. Some users manage files manually, dragging and dropping from one place to another and keeping track of whether the locations are synchronized in their heads. Other users may use two or more applications to provide this functionality.

Now there is an easier way. SyncToy, a free PowerToy for Microsoft Windows, is an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories. Most common operations can be performed with just a few clicks of the mouse, and additional customization is available without additional complexity. SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another case. Unlike other applications, SyncToy actually keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.

System Requirements

  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Vista; Windows XP
  • Microsoft .NET Framework v2.0
  • 1GHz Intel P3 processor or equivalent
  • 256MB RAM, 512MB RAM recommended
  • 20MB free disk space

There is one caveat about the SyncToy program. It is not considered part of Windows so it is not supported by Microsoft Technical Support.  Do not be turned off by that though – it is a solid tool and works very well. 

You can get peer to peer support by visiting the SyncToy forum and read more about all the features of this handy tool and grab either the 64-bit or 32-bit download at the SyncToy 2.1 download page.