You can set up file syncing between computers over your home network to keep all the files current on all your PC’s. Once it’s setup, all the syncing happens automatically, in the background.
For example, if we sync the Documents folders of a desktop computer and a laptop, all the files inside those two folders would be exactly the same on both machines. Then if we add, edit, or delete a file in the Documents folder of the laptop, the changes would be propagated to the Documents folder on the Desktop computer, and vice versa.
Windows 10 doesn’t have a built-in way of doing this, so we’ll need to use a third-party tool to manage our syncs.
To start syncing files/folders you’ll need to have file sharing between your computers already setup. Click here for a handy guide on how to do this How to Setup File Sharing on a Home Network.
How To Sync Files Over Your Home Network.
Windows 10 doesn’t have a built in tool for file syncing, so we’ll have to use third party software to handle all the synchronisation. There are many around to choose from, but the one I use is called Allway Sync.
It’s free and doesn’t have any limitations for home users.
Download and install Allway Sync.
You can download it by clicking the link below
Click the download button to get the free version.
You don’t need to install Allway Sync on both computers. Just install it on one of them.
For me, I’ll install on my desktop computer.
Setting Up Folder Syncs.
In order to sync files across your network, you’ll need to create folder “Pairs”.
That is, 2 folders, 1 from each computer, that are linked together through Allway Sync.
You can sync, or pair, any 2 folders. As an example, I’ll sync the Music folders on my desktop computer and laptop.
On my desktop, I’ve got a lot of music files, while the laptop, as yet, doesn’t have anything.
You could, of course, be syncing any two folders.
For clarity, I’ve only installed Allway Sync on my desktop computer. It’s not installed on my laptop, and it’s going to be my desktop computer that I’ll be setting everything up on.
Your other PC, in my example my laptop, needs to be switched on and active, that is, not in sleep or hibernation mode.
Syncing Files – Pairing Folders.
Open Allway Sync.
To add the first folder to be synced, click the BROWSE button on the left-hand side of the window.
Navigate to the folder you want to add to the sync.
In my example, it’s going to be the Music folder on my desktop machine.
You may have to scroll up or down to find your folder.
When you’ve located it, left-click it to select it and then click the OK button.
The folder will show in the synchronization window.
Next, we need to “pair it” with a folder on the other computer.
In this example, it’ll be my laptop.
Click the BROWSE button on the right-hand side.
The other folder will be on your network.
So scroll down the list of folders and click on NETWORK.
When you click on NETWORK, there will probably be a short delay before it opens up. That’s caused by Allway Sync searching your network for connected devices.
Navigate to the folder you want to sync to.
In my example, I want to sync to the Music folder on my laptop. My laptop’s name is “redlaptop”
So after clicking NETWORK, I’d click “REDLAPTOP”, then USERS, then my account name “Dave” and finally the Music folder.
When you’ve selected the second folder of the pair, click the OK button.
You can see the folder “pair” in the synchronization windows.
Separating the two windows is a double-headed arrow.
When it’s double-headed, it means the files will sync both ways. To and from each folder.
We’ll look at changing that later.
Analyze The Folders.
The next step is to let Allway Sync check out each folder to see what files are already inside them.
Click the ANALYZE button.
Before you can begin syncing, you have to analyse the folders.
Important Message – Alert.
When you first do an analysis of the two folders you’re syncing, there’s liable to be a significant difference between them.
Allway Sync will pop up this message if there is.
Syncing won’t happen unless you clear this message.
Click the IGNORE button.
After you’ve clicked the Ignore Button above, you can start syncing your files.
Click the SYNCHRONIZE button.
You can see the synchronization progress bar.
Depending on how much data has to be transferred, and the speed of your network, it may take some time to complete.
Syncing will happen in both directions.
In my example, all the files in my Music folder on my desktop computer will be copied over to my Music folder on my laptop, and the other way round, laptop to desktop.
When synchronization has finished, when you open the synced folders, you should see exactly the same files on both computers.
Sync More Files – Add New Job.
To sync files from more folders you’ll need to create more folder “pairs“. Each time you “pair” folders together in Allway Sync it’s called a NEW JOB.
So let’s say that now you want to sync the Documents folders on both computers.
The Music folders are synced, or “paired”, and you can see that the “pairing” is called NEW JOB 1.
In this example, we’re going to sync the Documents folders on both computers, but you would obviously substitute in whichever folders you wanted to sync.
On the toolbar at the top of the screen, click JOB.
Then on the menu that opens, click ADD NEW JOB.
You’ll see NEW JOB 2 tab appear.
You’ll also notice that the synchronisation windows are now blank.
We have to tell Allway Sync which folders to start syncing.
The process is exactly the same as setting up the first sync.
Click the BROWSE button on the left-hand side, then navigate to the first folder you want to sync.
Select the folder and then click the OK button.
The path to the folder appears in the sync window.
Then click the BROWSE button on the right-hand side and navigate your network to the other folder.
Once you’ve paired your folders, click the ANALYZE button again.
When the analysis is complete, you’ll probably have to click the IGNORE button in the warning.
Then click the SYNCHRONIZE button.
You can keep adding New Jobs to “pair” as many folders as you wish.
File Sync Settings.
In the examples above, we’ve synced the files from 2 folders, Music and Documents, using the default settings. (You will obviously sync whichever folders you require).
Most of the time, these settings will be pretty good, but there are a few that could be changed to better suit our needs.
To access the sync settings, click the OPTIONS button.
When the Options page opens, click APPLICATION in the left-hand panel.
Select “Start application in system notification area on start-up”.
That’ll make sure that Allway Sync starts whenever you start your computer.
If you’re only syncing one pair of folders, then having it called NEW JOB 1 isn’t going to be an issue. You know what that job is since it’s the only job.
But if you’ve set up several jobs, then it’s a good idea to give each one a descriptive name.
When you’ve set Allway Sync to start with Windows, click New Job 1 in the left-hand panel.
Then click the RENAME button in the top right corner.
Type in a more descriptive name for the sync job and then click the OK button.
In my example, New Job 1 is syncing my Music folders.
File Synchronisation Rules.
Click SYNCHRONIZATION RULES.
When you delete a file from one computer, do you want it to be deleted on the other machine?
Well, do you? I usually do, but be careful. If you select this option, it pretty much does what it says.
Click AUTOMATIC SYNCHRONIZATION in the left-hand panel.
These settings are where we tell Allway Sync when to sync our files.
There are various options here to control when files should be synced.
The ones I use are –
- Through the specified period
- When file changes are detected
- On application start
But that’s just a guide to get you started, you can adjust any or all of these settings at any time.
The one setting I don’t like using is BEFORE LOG OFF. Be careful about this one.
It sounds good and usually is, but I’ve had problems when restarting computers that are installing Windows updates.
Personally I turn this one off.
There’s one last setting to look at. Click ERROR HANDLING in the left hand panel.
This is where we can tell Allway Sync what to do if it can’t find the “other” computer. The computer that your syncing to.
Most often, it can’t find the other PC because it’s simply not been switched on yet.
On the Error Handling page, scroll down to the ERRORS section.
In the Errors section, make sure that the Automatic Mode is set to AUTO RETRY.
Then in the AUTOMATIC RETRY section, you can set how many attempts Allway Sync should make and over what time interval.
Set it as you see fit, but I usually set the attempts to 5.
Now click NEW JOB 2 in the left-hand panel.
Then go through the same settings as above, starting by renaming it to something more descriptive.
You can use the exact same settings or different ones for each job.
When you’ve finished configuring the settings for each job, click the APPLY button and then OK.
Sync Files Over Your Network – Summary
Using Allway Sync you can keep all your files current and updated across all your computers.
Having important files propagated across different computers also works as a backup to protect those files.
The only proviso is that your computers have to be switched on and connected to your network at the same time for the synchronization to take place.
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