Ever since Windows 2000, I have always had the need to replicate data to multiple endpoints with the same content. Until DFS was introduced, the method of thinking was to either manually copy the data location by location, or to batch script it with xcopy and schedule a task. Even though this worked (and still does today), it was cumbersome, and intensive on the network, especially when dealing with larger amounts of data.
Then along came robocopy, as an internal tool written by an enterprising programmer at Microsoft. We used it quite a bit, especially when we could not use DFS in the early days. It was received so well, it made it into the public realm. At least now we could have the ability to determine what files had changed and only replicate those.
Well, over time there has been evolution of this ideal. DFS is obviously the Windows enterprise class service to do this, along with BrancheCache..however you don’t always need or want the power of DFS, especially when it comes to small datacenter installations, or remote offices.
I have specific data sets that are on closed or restricted networks, that either have a security need for this, or are in remote countries where bandwidth is a premium. FOr this, I use the latest evolution for one off replication names Synctoy. Synctoy is from Microsoft, seemingly released in 2009, that wraps a nice GUI around setting up a paired set of folders (remember the mobile briefcase from Windows 98?), and allowing you the choice of synchronization methods. 1 way, or 2 way. Simply create a paired set of folders on the source and destination, choose your options for content, exclude any file types you don’t want to replicate, and click run. Scheduling is even easier. MS has included a wrapper for doing just this so all you enter in your task schedule in the SynToyCMD.exe, a –R as an argument, and the time schedule. No more complicated command lines or scripts.
I find this especially useful when I use MS backup to back up a system volume, but only want subsets of backup information of a data share and ONLY when that dataset has changed. Not relying on full backups and incremental. An example of this is my application installation master share. I back this up with SyncToy because I do not need multiple backup copies..one copy elsewhere suffices to back it up.
At home, very useful for your pictures, videos, music, ect..the backup is online and ready to access, not waiting for you to restore a backup file, and no need to institute a domain simply to have DFS.'
Do note there is a risk..if you accidently delete a file and do not catch this before the next sync, then depending on your SyncToy settings, you can indeed lose that file as the destination updates..so due diligence applies. I make it a rule to sync manly one way…I use my master share for making changes, and allow the schedule to follow suit. Any real important file I lock down as read only through file permissions so it cannot be deleted unless I intervene.
Check out the tool and have some fun!