Microsoft SyncToy 1.0

Published Date
01 - Nov - 2005
| Last Updated
01 - Nov - 2005
Microsoft SyncToy 1.0
SyncToy is a tool from Microsoft's power toys section. Want to get a head start with this great tool? Read on to know more…

SyncToy is one of these much needed utilities that help you get rid of multiple copies of files in your hard drive even if you have renamed them. Moreover, SyncToy can do this task in various ways. As a user, you should know how to choose the correct action, or else you would end up losing data. Here, we discuss how you can perform the various actions that SyncToy offers.
Installing SyncToy
SyncToy is dependent on the .NET framework and hence installation will not proceed without latter's presence. Download .NET (dotnetfx.exe) from Microsoft's download centre by visiting
Once you have installed .NET framework it is time to get SyncToy. You can download it from Microsoft or with other download sites such as Visit

After you download the software, run the setup file to install SyncToy. The installation wizard will guide you through the simple installation procedure. Now that the tool is installed, let's take a look at its working.

Rationale Of SyncToy Actions
There are five distinct actions in SyncToy, although they appear to be rather similar, they offer different outcomes.

The five actions are 'Synchronize', 'Echo', 'Subscribe', 'Contribute' and 'Combine'. The 'Folder pair' is the data containing folders that act as target(s) for any of the aforementioned actions. The folders are segregated into left and right and are temporarily named likewise.

The 'Synchronize' action makes two folders mirror each other. This action will update the latest changes to each folder and its sub folders and thereby result into two identical folders. This action is very useful when folders on two different computers on a network need to be synchronised in order to maintain identical data with the recent updates. If a file was deleted from, say, the left folder of one PC, say computer A, then SyncToy deletes it from the right folder of the other PC, say computer B as well; the deleted file will be available in the Recycle Bin of computer B.

Assuming that the left folder is a master and the right is a slave, then the 'Echo' action will make copies of files that are new, changed, renamed or deleted from left to right and not the other way round. This tool will come in handy for those who use a digital camera and want only the newly clicked pictures to be copied from the memory card into a picture folder on the PC. If images in the picture folder on the PC are renamed then 'Echo' will rename them back to their original form, which is undesirable.

To prevent this, click on the 'Preview' button before clicking on 'Run' and un-tick all the rename operations. Same can be done using the 'Synchronize' action, however, any new file in the Picture folder will be copied to the memory card-and we don't want that to happen!

When the same files exist on both the folders, and if the contents of a file in the right folder are new, then 'Subscribe' will make the necessary update to the file in the left folder. This is a handy action when dealing with text-based files. No deletions take place.

The 'Contribute' action is almost the same as 'Echo' apart from the fact that it doesn't delete files. This is again a very useful action for those who use digital cameras. Like 'Echo', 'Contribute' also acts on file contents from the left folder to right folder.

The fifth and the last action, 'Combine' makes sure that all files exist on both the folders. Any file that doesn't exist in the right folder will be copied to the left and vice versa. By the time 'Run' is completed, every file that existed in either folder will exist in both folders. 'Combine' does not rename or delete files to either folder.

Modus Operandi
Now that you know about the actions that SyncToy can perform, let's see how you can use them. First of all, you need to create a folder pair. Click 'Create New Folder Pair', this will prompt you to navigate and choose a left folder. Now, click 'Next' to select a right folder in the same manner. Follow the wizard by clicking 'Next' and then select an action for the folder pair; proceed to give a name to the folder pair. Now click 'Finish' to see a screen that separates the two folders into columns as 'Left Folder' and 'Right Folder' with details of chosen action and default options. The options can be changed by clicking the 'Change options…' link and you  can also change the selected action by clicking the 'Change action…' link.

We would advice you to look at a preview before you proceed with the actual action. To do so, click the 'Preview' button located at the bottom right corner of the screen. You can avoid any unwanted operation on your files.

After you preview the action and its outcome, you can proceed by clicking 'Run'. This process may take some time depending on the number of files SyncToy has to deal with. You can also perform any action on all the folder pairs by choosing 'All Folder Pairs' from the column at the left side of the screen.

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