SyncEXP is a free file and folder synchronization tool that I mentioned  a couple years ago in my list of favorite PC programs & utilities.  I’ve been using this tool daily for many years to not only keep files synchronized on my multiple PCs & laptops (over my wired & wireless network), but as my primary backup tool with USB external HDDs.  SyncEXP is a standalone executable file and does not require installation.  Just unzip it somewhere on your hard drive or USB stick & run.

SyncEXP is extremely easy to use, but it does take a little practice in order to gain confidence and eliminate user errors.  As the ReadMe file that comes with it mentions, make sure you review the “Preview” screen before completing a synchronization because all file deletions are permanent.

SynEXP Main ScreenHere’s what you see when you first run SyncEXP.   I’ve circled “Include sub-folder” as this check-box defaults to unchecked for each task you create.  Unless you specifically do not want to synchronize sub-folders, always check this box to synchronize ALL files in the specified task folder.

For each “Task” you create, select folders (Host & Mirror) that you want to synchronize on either the same system; with a folder on another PC/laptop; or with a folder on an external HDD.  You can synchronize entire hard drives (i.e., C:\), but the “Preview” screen could be extremely lengthy.

You’ll first want to set up all your tasks (all the file folders you want to synchronize) and then click on the Save button (floppy disk icon) in the upper left-hand corner to save the configuration.  Always double check that the “Include sub-folder” is checked, otherwise you may not be fully synchronizing all the files under the specified root folder you selected.

Browser for Host/Mirror Folder screenFor each task you must specify the Host and Mirror folder, followed by setting the six “File synchro options” at the bottom which allow you to specify the file copy, delete or ignore operations.  You can either enter the Host & Mirror locations or click on the Browse button; navigate to the desired folder; then click the “OK” button.  Double-check the six “File synchro options” carefully for each task, as this is where many user errors occur.

I pretty much use only two File synchro option settings.  One for copying between two systems in which the newest files are copied both TO & FROM the host & mirror system (bidirectional synchronization); the other for copying ONLY from the Host system to a backup external HDD (unidirectional) – the Mirror folder.

The two snapshots below indicate these two settings:

Bi-directional SyncUni-directional Sync

SyncEXP Main Screen w/Tasks

The snapshot to the right shows a completed task list.  Inside the upper left-hand red circle are the New Task; Copy Task; and Delete Task buttons.  After entering your first folder & setting the file synchro options, I suggest you copy that task for all subsequent folders; rename it; & enter the new Host & Mirror folder locations.  Otherwise you’ll have to set each of the six file synchro options for each & every task (which is a pain in the arse if you have a lot of tasks).

Note the area in the middle red circle.  Here you can choose to include or exclude specified sub-folders.  This can be useful when you’re syncing your laptop to your desktop PC & your laptop HDD does not have enough disk space to fully synchronize with a particularly large folder on the desktop.

SyncEXP Advanced Options screenThe circled “Advanced Options” in the upper right-hand corner of the previous snapshot allows you to include, ignore or delete only specified files or file types.  In addition, you can also specify a username & password if your network requires it.  The settings shown on the right are what you get if you click on the “Defaults” button in lower left-hand corner.  I strongly suggest that you DO NOT check “Auto Mode” as this will eliminate the Preview window and Results dialog.  I always check the “Ignore one hour time difference…” because for some reason this seems to occur more often than you would expect between different systems.

Before executing SyncEXP, you must check the box next to each of the Tasks (folders) in the Task List on SyncEXP’s main screen that you want to synchronize.  If you want to sync all tasks defined, right-click on a task & select “Check All” from the pop-up menu.  To execute, click the green arrow just to the right of the Delete Task button.  SyncEXP will compare all files for the first task selected & display the “Preview” screen below:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

Please note that NO files have been copied or deleted yet.  The above screen provides a preview of what files WILL be copied (or deleted) if you click on the “Sync Now” button.  The lower left-hand corner indicates that 10 files will be copied.  The Blue & Red arrows in the “Export” sub-folder of “blogs” indicates that files will be copied in both directions (from Host-to-Mirror and from Mirror-to-Host).  The Blue arrow in the left “Images” sub-folder indicates that files will only be copied from the Host to the Mirror sub-folder.  To see which files will be copied, click on each of the folders with Blue or Magenta arrows.  Clicking on the “Export” sub-folder displays the following screen:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

The above snapshot shows all the files in the “Export” sub-folder.  File names in black are the same in both folders.  Highlighted files (two in Blue; two in Magenta) indicate differences between the the two folders & the files that will be copied when you click on “Sync Now”.  If desired, you can click the left check-box of any of these files to ignore them (they won’t be copied if the check-mark is cleared).  As in the Task List check boxes on the SyncEXP main screen, right click anywhere in the file list and you can either clear or check all boxes via the pop-up menu.  Under the “=” column you can left-click on the Blue or Magenta arrows to cycle through applicable options.  In this particular case the only option offered is to delete the file.

You can cycle the display between all files shown or just differences with the buttons in the lower right-hand corner — black Asterik (*) for All Files; red “Equals Sign with Slash” to show only differences between the Host & Mirror folder.  When dealing with folders or sub-folders with lots of files, you’ll definitely want to click on the red “Equals Sign with Slash” to limit your view to only folder/sub-folder differences.  The snapshot below is an example:

SyncEXP Preview Screen

If I were to left-click on the “Images” folder, the Preview window would display (in the right-hand pane) the six files in the Host “Images” sub-folder that will be copied to the Mirror “Images” sub-folder.

To perform the file synchronization for this task, just click on the “Sync Now” button.  A window will display indicating the status of the synchronization, followed by a Results log window showing the number of files transferred and/or deleted.  Take note of the final entry “Failed to synchronize.”  You want to see a big fat zero to indicate success.  If not zero, the files that were unsuccessfully copied will be indicated above in this window.  Click on the “Close” button to dismiss the Results log window and begin the next Task comparison (that is, if you checked more than one Task to synchronize on the main SyncEXP screen).   If no other tasks remain to be synced, you’ll be returned to the main SyncEXP screen.

As stated in the SyncEXP readme file, I strongly suggest that you create a couple of dummy test folders on your system; populate them with various files; edit some of the files in each folder so there are date-time or file size differences; then get familiar with SyncEXP using these dummy folders.  Always review the Preview screen carefully before clicking on the “Sync Now” button, especially if you only have one backup.

If the link to download SyncEXP at the top of this post is not working, I’ve placed a copy of the program here.

Good Luck!