How to create automated backups using Microsoft SyncToy

Always have duplicate copies of your most important information saved in a different location to keep it safe in case anything goes badly wrong with your computer.

Data loss can happen unexpectedly and suddenly, often without warnings – computer crashes, virus infection, hard drive failure, physical computer damage, theft.

In this guide I will show you how to create a SyncToy task that automatically schedules backups of your chosen folders to an external drive, internal drive (a different one from where your source folders are located), flash drive, network share, or online service. We are going to use the Free SyncToy tool and Windows Task Scheduler. This guide is for Windows 7 users, however, it can also be implemented on Windows XP, Windows Vista (What?!! You’re really using that??), Windows 8 / 8.1.

Download the Free SyncToy utility from Microsoft Download Center:

Once installed, open SyncToy and click on Create New Folder Pair

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Here you will be selecting the source and destination folders. Left Folder is the one you want to backup; Right Folder is the destination folder, where you want your folder to be backed up to.

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In this example I have chosen to backup my Documents folder (C:\Documents) to an external hard drive (T:\Documents)

Click Next and choose what type of backup you want

  • Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.

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Click Next and give your Folder Pair a name

Click Finish

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Now that your backup has been set up, you have to execute it manually by opening SyncToy, selecting your Folder Pair and click on Preview and then Run. However, it is easy to forget to run your backup, that’s why we’re going to set up an automatic backup (Daily, Weekly) using Windows Task Scheduler.

In Windows 7, open Task Scheduler by going to Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Task Scheduler

Click on Create Basic Task…

Windows Task Scheduler

Windows Task Scheduler









In the Actions menu, click Create a Basic Task

In the Name field enter the basic task’s name (such as SyncToy Backup),

Enter a description in the Description field and click Next.

Windows task Scheduler




Specify a Task Trigger value to indicate how often the task runs, such as Daily, and then click Next 

Windows Task Scheduler

Select the start date and time of day when the automated task should run, and then click Next

Windows Task Scheduler

In the Action page, select Start A Program, and then click Next

Windows Task Scheduler

Within the Program/script: field, browse to the SyncToy directory and select the SyncToyCmd.exe file (C:\Program Files\SyncToy 2.1\SyncToyCmd.exe)

Enter -R within the Add Arguments (optional) field, and then click Next.

Windows Task Scheduler

Review your settings and click Finish

Windows Task Scheduler

There are countless of backup utilities outthere, some free, others must be purchased at reasonable cost, some others expensive. For personal use or a small office, this is among the best free solutions.

Don’t wait until a disaster happens, have your backup plan ready and operating. A worse disaster will be if your wife finds out you have lost all your honeymoon pictures…



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Freelancer Information Technology.