| By Woody Leonhard |
In past columns, I’ve moaned about the lack of PowerToys for Windows Vista, seven months after Vista’s release.
There is one PowerToy, though, that’s fully Vista capable, and it also works well with Windows XP — meet SyncToy.
Why use a PowerToy like SyncToy?
I’ve been digging deep into Windows Media Center — both the XP-based Media Center Edition and the Vista versions — while researching a new book on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Home Server (WHS). In my tests, I’ve found that this new “personal server” works reasonably well with Media Center, but there are several lapses. One of the worst: WHS will back up many kinds of files, but it won’t back up TV shows that you’ve recorded.
That’s how I came to download and try an old Windows XP PowerToy called SyncToy. Rushing in where angels fear to tread, SyncToy can readily copy recorded TV shows from a Media Center PC to a Windows Home Server, uh, server. Once copied, WHS takes care of the backup, restore, and gas-guzzling hard-drive demands of your recorded TV programs: the trick lies in getting the files onto the server in the first place. That’s where good old SyncToy comes into play.
I guess the term "old" is relative: Microsoft posted SyncToy version 1.4 as recently as October 2006. It’s officially listed as one of the Windows XP PowerToys. To my amazement, SyncToy works equally well (and almost identically) in both XP and Vista.
The only downside? Before you can use SyncToy on a Windows XP PC, you have to install the bloated, sometimes buggy .NET Framework, Redmond’s runtime environment. (On Vista, you don’t need to add .NET Framework, because it’s practically baked into the operating system.) If you don’t mind loading this download onto your XP system, SyncToy has a few great tricks up its sleeve.