Using Microsoft's SyncToy for managing file backups to an external drive

Microsoft SyncToy

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know I’ve been working to get my backup situation improved particluarly when it comes to DV tapes and photos. I’ve been using $g(Microsoft’s SyncToy), one of the free $g(Microsoft Power Toys for Windows XP) and I have to say it works fairly well and supports scheduling backups with $g(Windows Task Scheduler) using the -R command line switch for selecting particular file groups. I wish Microsoft would release the source code to apps like this so they could be picked up by the development community and further enhanced rather than releasing them with an unknown future. Prior using SyncToy I used a batch file and xcopy so to having a UI to configure targets source/destination directories is nice.

What do you use for syncing files/directories?

11 thoughts on “Using Microsoft's SyncToy for managing file backups to an external drive

  1. To backup files from my Unix Server to a Windows workstation over the Internet I use rsync.
    For daily backup to a DVD I use Beyond Compare. It’s not automatic, but I like to see what gets deleted, moved and backed up when doing my daily backup.

  2. Thanks for the feedback everyone!
    Jan, SyncToy allows you to preview before you actually run the sync. Additionally, it will show you via a log report what happened to each file.

  3. We use a custom made app made with Delphi.
    (I’ve posted it compiled + sources at:
    The main purpose of this tool is to run unattended each night, that means
    errors that might happen, no mater which errors, should stop this tool continuing
    backuping files of big hard disks. All backup tools we tested some time ago stopped on
    innaccesible files (ie: "this file is being used by another process"), etc, even
    the files were read-only shared.
    So I ended up with this small code that logs everything, including locked files
    or innaccesible files or folders for whatever reason. When it finishes it simply
    sends me an email with the log including the list of file that couldn’t be backuped
    and the Windows error message, etc.
    Another feature was to make it robust and fastest as possible, and aware
    of things like FAT32 partition limitations that usually have external disks…
    Sources are compiled with the Pro version of TeeChart, but you can safely remove
    the units if the compiler complains when using the Standard version of TeeChart that
    comes with RAD Studio.

  4. We use the scripting capabilities of Beyond Compare. I am able to get a fully automated solution that only copies changed or new files (and deletes orphans on the target) with an email sent containing a full log file of all the copy/create/delete operations. I use Automize to help with the automation – although it is really Beyond Compare that is doing all the work.

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