A Microsoft Backup Program That's Powerful—and Free

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Since I often preach about the value—no, the necessity—of backing up data, I get loads of e-mails from readers asking for backup software recommendations. I hesitate suggesting a commercial product. Instead, I suggest readers do a Google search, relying on expert reviewers. But I just came across a new backup product that has so many positive things going for it—including excellent reviews—and it’s free.

 

SyncToy 2.1 is a Microsoft product that, in an earlier incarnation, was XP’s PowerToy, a program that provided scores of ways to customize Windows. But it has continued to grow, and the upgrade now works in XP, Vista and Windows 7. To call it a toy does not do it justice. It is a sophisticated, yet easily customizable, software tool that can copy, move and synchronize different directories. In fact, it can even sync in both directions. Also, it can handle multiple sets of folders and simultaneously mimic renames and deletes—keeping track of the changes to ensure they are correctly synched.

 

To download SyncToy, go to Microsoft’s Download Center at tinyurl.com/2q5wqe.

 

Toward the bottom of the page, you are offered two URLs— one for downloading to 32-bit computers (the most common) and the other for 64-bit models. The 64-bit address is easy to identify—it ends with x64.exe. The address for the 32-bit program ends with x86.exe (see screenshot below).

 

Then just follow the excellent step-by-step menu to configure it.

 

Although SyncToy does not have a built-in automatic scheduler, users of XP, Vista and Windows 7 can use Scheduled Tasks to do the job. To open Scheduled Tasks, click Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then click Scheduled Tasks. Once again, follow the very clear screen instructions.

 

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