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Schedule SyncToy to Run Automatically With Task Scheduler in Windows 7

SyncToy is a great tool to help you keep your files and folders synced between drives and devices.  Here’s how you can make it do sync automatically so your files will stay synced even if you forget to sync them.

By default, SyncToy only synchronizes your files when your fun the program and directly tell it to sync.  This might work fine for syncing files to a flash drive before heading out on a trip, but makes it difficult if you’re using it to synchronize files regularly between folders or drives on your computer or with Dropbox.  Windows includes an often overlooked scheduling tool that can automatically run many applications without any action on your part.  Let’s see how you can setup SyncToy to automatically sync with the Task Scheduler.

Automatically Run SyncToy

First, make sure you have SyncToy installed and have some syncs setup.  Here’s one of our articles with more info about Synchronizing Folders With SyncToy.

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Now open Task Scheduler to get SyncToy automatically syncing.  Type Task Scheduler in the Search box in the Start Menu and hit Enter.

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Once Task Scheduler opens, click Create Basic Task on the right sidebar.

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Enter a name and a description for your task in the dialog that opens so you’ll be able to easily recognize your task.

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Choose how often you want to run the task.  Note that Daily is the most frequent you can select in the dialog, but we can tweak this later in the settings.  Click Next to continue.

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You’ll be asked to add additional settings depending on the trigger you selected previously.  If you chose Daily, then the default settings should work fine.  Note that it will automatically run daily at the current time; if you’d rather it run at a different time, enter the time you’d like in the box.

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Now, you’ll be asked what you want the action to do…Click Start a program.

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In the Program/script box, enter the following including the quotes:

“C:\Program Files\SyncToy 2.1\SyncToyCmd.exe”

Then, in the Add arguments box, enter –R to run all of your syncs each time.

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Alternately, if you’d only like to run one of your syncs, enter –R “your sync name”.  Make sure to enter the sync name inside quotes if it contains any spaces.  Once you’re finished, click Next to continue.

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If you left out the quotes in the program’s field, Task Scheduler will ask if you want to run C:\Program with the remainder as an argument.  Click No to keep it like you entered, and Task Scheduler will add the quotes correctly for you.

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You’re finally finished.  The Wizard will show you a summary of the sync settings; click Finish to save the changes.

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Now your sync will automatically run as you set, and you’ll never have to worry about running it manually again!

Edit Your Sync Schedule

If you’d like to make your files sync more often or change other things about your task, you can easily do so from the Task Schedule interface.  Click on the Task Scheduler Library on the left side to find your task.

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Scroll through the tasks listed, and find the one you created previously.  You’ll see an overview of its settings in the preview underneath.

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On the right sidebar, click Properties to change its settings.

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To change how frequently it syncs, click the Triggers tab and double-click on your time listed.

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Now you can select to have it repeat the task every hour or any other time you want, for as long as you want.  This dialog is much more flexible than the previous one used when creating the task.

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Back in the Properties dialog, the Conditions tab lets you choose whether or not to run this task when your computer is running on battery power if you’re using a laptop/netbook.  By default it will only run when on AC power, but you can uncheck the box if you’d rather it sync even if you’re on battery.

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You can also go ahead and run the task manually from the Task Scheduler if you’d like.  You may notice a command prompt window open while the sync is running, but it won’t require any input from you.

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Conclusion

No matter what you need to sync, SyncToy is a handy tool to make sure all of your files are kept in different locations.  You can run as many syncs as you want automatically with the Task Scheduler, freeing you up for more important tasks.

If you haven’t already looked at it, check out our article on how to Sync Any Folder to Dropbox With SyncToy.  Once you’ve got that setup, you can automate your Dropbox syncs this way, too!

Download SyncToy

Matthew digs up tasty bytes about Windows, Virtualization, and the cloud, and serves them up for all to enjoy!

  • Published 08/10/10

Comments (18)

  1. akash

    I’ve literally just been playing with SyncToy, but I came across another sync application called DirSync Pro.

    Its cross platform, portable, light-weight and you can even configure it to keep a “recycle bin” of over-written or deleted files during the backup/sync process :D meaning you have a previous version of the file (like the default windows 7 backup).

    Its pretty cool, though getting it to work with a network drive is a bit hit and miss for me at the moment, but I think that’s a problem with my personal firewall rules…basically, I have to define the IP address of my network drive rather than the device name/mapped network drive path (could be a problem with dynamic IP).

  2. Matthew Guay

    @akash – Cool, thanks for sharing. I actually hadn’t seen that one before, so I’ll have to check it out!

  3. KB Prez

    I use SyncToy quite a bit. In order to get it to run as a scheduled task, I had to check the “Run with highest privileges” box in the properties dialog.

  4. Amazing Electronics

    Being as you are quite knowledgeable I have a quick question about security. If one was to set this up and use it and then use a encrypting software to encrpyt the directory after it had been scyned, would there be any danger of the file not being fully encrypted due to the fact that SyncToy has some of the files kept in its memory? If this is the case would it just be easier to encrpt the whole drive or SyncToy + the directory after all of the syncing is done?

  5. Tim

    The principle also works with XP using the Scheduled Tasks in Control Panel.

  6. Matthew Guay

    @Amazing Electronics – I don’t believe you could sync an encrypted folder with a non-encrypted folder. I’m not sure because I actually haven’t tried, but it does not sound like a plausible solution. I think you’d end up in some kind of loop where it keeps trying to add the unencrypted files to the folder, only to have them “change” and become encrypted…

  7. Jeff

    Hey, this is a great idea! I only wish I’d thought of i—hey, wait a sec :P

  8. Matthew Guay

    @Jeff – Yup, you did leave that in the comment, didn’t you? :) I’d actually noted the idea down while I was writing the first article, but hey, thanks for the suggestion just the same!

  9. akash

    @Amazing Electronics – I remember coming across a sync program that is able to encrypt the destination folder but I can’t remember the name; I’ll do a quick search. But, I think that kind of backup/sync will be quite memory intensive simply because the encryption will happen on demand en-mass.

    What you could do is use TrueCrypt and then sync the TrueCrypt file; or use a program like WinZip to zip (and encrypt) a directory on a schedule to a remote location.

    Or use the built-in Windows encryption facility?

  10. Roi

    I just have a small batch file that uses Robocopy that I have set to run everyday in Task Scheduler. Lighter on resources and much more simpler :D

  11. LG

    Thanks for this very nice tutorial! I was able to get this up and running quickly and easily with the aid of your nice article. However, should you have a mind to edit it at some point for whatever reason, I would like to point out a slight error in typing. Near the beginning you have:

    “By default, SyncToy only synchronizes your files when your fun the program”

    Sometimes Auto-correct is not our friend in word processors. :)

  12. Bill Raab

    Thanks for the info…. I just started using SyncToy the other day and was hoping to be able to schedule syncs. This is just the ticket!

  13. Carl

    To avoid the annoying taskeng.exe window popping up whenever the task runs, I run the following script from Task Scheduler instead. I created it notepad and then saved is as SyncToy.vbs

    ‘ SyncToy Scheduler
    Set WshShell = WScript.CreateObject(“WScript.Shell”)
    WshShell.Run “””C:\Program Files\SyncToy 2.1\SyncToyCmd.exe”” -R” ,7

    The ‘,7′ will start the taskeng.exe window minimised, to hide the window completely it can be changed to ‘,0′

  14. Shanil

    Thanks for the nice write up, definitely something I was hoping SyncToy would do out of the box. Task Scheduler underrated tool in windows.

  15. Abhijeet

    Fantastic. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

  16. Marnix

    To anyone able and willing to answer the question: thanks in advance for your time. I am wondering: how do I automate only some file pairs to run and not others?

  17. Marnix

    Oh, I missed that part. GEEZ. Sorry Matthew for not reading closely enough!

  18. Gustav Lundby

    Seems the perfect solution for my purpose: I run WinTV in Norway to see TV in Spain. Now I can also record shows in Norway and transfere them during nighttime to Spain in high resolution without saturating my limited bandwith :-)

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