4 Free File Sync & Backup Tricks Available In Windows

Ben Stegner 25-11-2014

You’ve heard it a million times: backing up your files is important 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More . Using cloud storage services like Dropbox or OneDrive Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More , you can make a backup for free, without needing to purchase new hardware.


We recently gave examples on how to use the generous free space that Microsoft OneDrive provides How To Best Use Your 15GB Of Free OneDrive Storage OneDrive gives you a healthy dose of cloud storage for free. Let's take a look at what you can do with that. Read More , and received comments suggesting the utilization of symbolic links and other folder-syncing tricks. Let’s jump into some creative ways to take control of your files.

Master Windows Libraries To Pull Together Folders & Sync Files

Windows 7 introduced a new feature called Libraries. Libraries are essentially folder groups for different types of files; when in Windows Explorer Hack Windows Explorer for Efficiency Boosts Windows Explorer -- known as File Explorer on Windows 8 -- is an application that you probably spend a good amount of time in. Even Windows geeks that avoid using any other Microsoft program tend... Read More , you’ll find your Libraries on the left side. Click the x locations text inside of one to see what folders are included in that library.


The four default libraries are Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos, but you can create new ones. Browse to the top Libraries directory and look for New Library at the top, or right-click and select New Library. With Libraries, you don’t have to worry about hunting down related files 6 Awesome Alternatives to Windows Search Does a Windows system search take you longer to find things than a manual search? You're not alone. Let us show you more efficient Windows search tools. Read More that are all over the place. Library groups are also updated in real-time, so you don’t have to change your setup around when you add new files.

Libraries are still around in Windows 8 and 8.1, but if you’re running 8.1 they’re hidden by default. To access them, just search How To Search Better & Faster On Windows 8 Windows 8 search features are quite robust once you get used to them. You can use modern and desktop approaches to search your computer and the Internet. Find out more! Read More for Folder Options and tick the Show Libraries box in the General tab.


Traditional Windows users might think libraries are useless, and some people might not even have known they existed, but they’re a feature worth taking advantage of. For more details and tips, check out how to make libraries work for you Make Windows 7 & 8 Libraries Work For You Libraries, found in Windows 7 and 8. are more than a list of suggested folders for saving documents, music, pictures, and video. Customizing your libraries isn’t just tweaking for the sake of tweaking – with... Read More , as well as specific tips for Windows 8 libraries Understand Windows 8 Libraries To Master Storage Space Read More .

Libraries are useful by themselves, but paired with cloud storage, they can also be a great backup option. To supercharge a library, first create a folder in your preferred cloud storage with the same name (Documents, for example). After this, you’ll need to perform the step above to view the Documents Library locations; from the screen pictured, add the folder you just created to the library. Finally, right-click your newly created folder and choose to set it as the default save location.

Now, whenever you save a picture to the Documents library, it will automatically be synced to cloud storage without you having to manually place it in there. Chris has covered setting up OneDrive as your default save location on Windows 8.1 if you’re having trouble. If you make it a habit to use Libraries all the time, this is a great set-and-forget method!

Separate File Types By Backup Service

This trick might help you bring some order to your files. If you’re looking to both keep a backup of all your important files and keep them neat, and don’t mind relocating them, try downloading several different cloud storage clients Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More . After maximizing your free space How To Get The Most Free Space On Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive & More - The Complete Guide Cloud storage services offer a minimum amount of free space to everyone who signs up, but you can often get more. You can upgrade your cloud drive with gigabytes and gigabytes of free space in... Read More , choose one file type for each app; perhaps you could use Copy for pictures and music, Google Drive for downloads, OneDrive for documents, and Dropbox for your most important files and sharing publicly.



Then, just add links to each folder to your Favorites bar 7 Ways to Bookmark Your Favorite Folders in Windows Create bookmarks for your favorite folders if you need quick access to them in Windows. Here are a few methods you can try out. Read More and you’ll be one click away from all of your most important data at all times. It’s a basic solution, but if you like separating things into containers it might be enough for you. Why over-complicate the matter?

Move Folders Without Relocating Them Using Symbolic Links

A common complaint about many cloud storage services is that you’re forced to rearrange your file structure and put everything into a particular cloud folder to be synced. Some providers, like SugarSync, allow you to sync files from anywhere (Aaron told you all about SugarSync SugarSync: The Most Well-Rounded Free File Backup & Syncing Service File backup is not a new conversation or topic by any means. If you search Google for “file backup” you will likely be overwhelmed by services and articles on the topic. It is a vast... Read More ), but it recently became paid-only. There’s a better, built-in solution: symbolic links. Since Danny has already explained symbolic links What Is a Symbolic Link (Symlink)? How to Create One in Linux File shortcuts are useful, but symbolic links (symlinks) can change how you use files and folders on Linux, macOS, and Windows. Read More so well, for now we’ll offer a brief summary.

Have you ever been accidentally sent a shortcut? Every operating system allows you to make shortcuts to files 10 Best Shortcuts to Add to Your Right-Click Menu The context menu that pops up whenever you perform a right-click can help you become more productive. With the right tool, customizing the shortcuts within it is a breeze. Read More ; they’re tiny in size and simply tell Windows to open up the file that’s at a certain location. When sent to someone else, they’re useless, because their computer doesn’t contain the file the shortcut points to.



Instead, symbolic links make it appear as if the file you want is in a different location, while it really hasn’t moved. This way, you can throw any file into cloud storage without breaking anything. It can be a bit counter-intuitive at first, but once you get the hang of using them, symbolic links will make your life easier, and save you money on SugarSync!

Try SyncToy

SyncToy is similar to symbolic links, except it actually creates a copy of the file instead of faking it. It’s a free tool from Microsoft and allows for three modes of copying:

  • Synchronize ensures that the two chosen folders are identical. This may delete or rename files, so make sure you don’t have anything of the utmost importance in a synced folder.
  • Echo makes the right folder match the left (master) folder. So, anything you do to the left folder will also be done to the right folder when this command runs.
  • Contribute is the same as Echo, but no files are ever deleted. This is a good option if you’re nervous about erasing something accidentally.



If you don’t have a lot of space free (even after you’ve freed up space on your hard drive with native tools Low Disk Space? 5 Native Windows Tools To Free Up Storage Space Don't download a fishy third party tool to reclaim valuable disk space! Windows has its own tools for the job and they're easy to use. Read More ) and need to sync a lot of files, you may want to use a different solution, since copying will obviously take up double the space. SyncToy can be used with folders on external drives, but if you’re just shifting files around on the same hard drive things might get messy.

For more, check out Aaron’s extensive guide to using SyncToy SyncToy: Microsoft's Simple Backup & Synchronization Solution [Windows] If you have files on your computer, you need to backup. Plain and simple. Many of us are familiar with backing up and there are lots of methods and programs to use. Another aspect that... Read More .

Hunker Down And Clean Up

If none of these tips seem to fix your problem, perhaps your file organization setup is flawed to begin with. A massive mess isn’t going to get any better over time, so if you’ve identified an issue, now is as good a time as any to get it fixed.


Fortunately, this doesn’t have to become a chore, and you have help. We’ve covered great ways of managing your files 9 Key Tips for Managing and Organizing Your Computer Files There's no perfect way when it comes to computer file management, but these tips will help you create order from chaos. Read More , as well as cleaning up duplicate files Delete Duplicate Files Quickly With These Tools One of the fastest ways to clog up your hard drive is to store duplicate files. Most of the time, you probably aren’t even aware that you have duplicate files. They come from a variety... Read More .

Everything In Order?

A clean, organized computer is easier to use and won’t drive you mad every time you log on. It doesn’t take much to get things square, and Windows’ default tools automate the process handily.

Mac users, you can get your files under control with our tips for better OS X organization 10 Tips To Better Organize Your Files & Folders [Mac] Most of what we do in any computer is access, manage, and use files and folders. Having a handful of good tips for using files and folders on your Mac can help you get things... Read More .

What’s your preferred method of organization? What other tools could be added to this list? Leave a comment and let us know!

Image Credits: Shortcut and Mess via morgueFile

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  1. carson
    February 20, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Here's what I would do:

    0. Ensure the Hard Disc Drive is not damaged or faulty.
    Solution - Run CheckDisk:
    a. Start> Computer >select C Drive>Right Click C Drive>select "Properties">"Tools" > click "Check Now"> Select both boxes and click "Start".
    b. This can take a long time, so let it complete (may take all night or longer. Be patient.)

  2. AdamB
    November 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I tried SyncToy but I found FreeFileSync faster and easier to use.