Windows 7 Sync Center

The Sync Center is business-oriented carryover from Windows Vista, a Control Panel applet that aims to make synchronizing files between your network and computer easy and seamless. Does it work? Let’s find out.

So you’ve got a networked drive, right? Open up My Computer, and take a look.

Preparing to sync with a network drive

Preparing to sync with a network drive

The easiest way to get your files synced, as shown above, is to right click the drive you want to sync and select Always available offline. At this point, your files will begin syncing. The amount of time this takes is, of course, dependent on the amount of data you’re transferring and the speed of your network connection.

Waiting for files to sync

Waiting for files to sync

When everything’s done, a symbol will appear next to the network drive signifying that it has been synchronized.

Synced files

Synced files

Notice that when you’ve synced a network drive to your hard drive, the drive’s total size is given as the same as the total size of your hard drive. Be careful not to exceed the actual size of the network share, or you could encounter problems the next time you try to sync!

Now that you’ve got your files synced, you can access all of them even when you’re offline. If you’d like to see the status of your synced files or change any other settings, the best way to do it is to use the Sync Center, available in the control panel.

The Sync Center

The Sync Center

Most of the settings in here are self-evident – you can see the status of your synced files, as well as the results of recent syncs or any sync conflicts. You can access the remaining settings of interest by clicking Manage offline files.

This property window allows you to change the amount of disk space allocated to offline files, allows you to encrypt your offline files, and allows you to automatically switch to working offline if Windows detects a “slow network connection.”

And those are the basics of syncing files in Windows 7! All in all, I’ve found it to be more reliable than syncing in Windows XP, but your mileage may vary depending on the number of files and locations that you’re trying to synchronize.

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17 Responses to Windows 7 Sync Center

  1. Denis Declercq June 21, 2010 at 7:54 am #

    That stupid sync-thing of windows 7 deleted all contacts on my cellphone !! Thank you very much microsoft

  2. Kat July 27, 2010 at 4:31 am #

    just bought a new laptop and it is stuck on 3 0f 3 sync. ANy help gladly appreciaited.

  3. Warren August 1, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    Sync Center/Always Available Offline doesn’t work/isn’t available in Win7 Home premium

    • Sephiro June 8, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      No, it is only available for Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.

      • Sdmilliken October 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

        Then why do they have an icon on the menu?

  4. Mattias M September 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    I’d recommend using Office 2007 Groove instead. I mainly use it on the desktops on a stationary computer and two laptops to share small office documents. Don’t know if it is included in all Office versions though. Think it is now called “Microsoft SharePoint Workspace” on Office 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_SharePoint_Workspace

    You pick one computer, create a Groove account, save it to an USB-stick (the Groove ‘profile’), create a folder, tell Groove to synchronize the created folder and put some crap in the folder. Then you move to your other computer, open up Groove, open the user profile from the USB-stick and choose what folders from the profile you would like to synchronize to this new computer. Voila, it synchronizes files as they are edited on one computer and make the changes to all other computers as well.

    • nick November 21, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      lol just use Google Docs, i’m amazed people still use Microsoft office, it’s so outdated and files can be lost if your computer randomly shuts down, even if you’ve synced it like you said. On google docs it saves it every few seconds, it’s beautiful

  5. Mattias M September 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    I *should* point out that the files are synchronized over the internet. On one hand you can synchronize files as long as you have an internet connection, anywhere you are. On the other hand, I don’t know if it will require transfer over internet if two computers are on the same network (going through microsofts servers).

  6. Peter G. October 3, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    http://sourceforge.net/projects/freefilesync/

  7. billbennett October 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    Just looked at this on my Windows 7 machines and there is no “Always available offline” option on the right-click menu. Is it restricted to certain versions of Windows 7?

    • Sephiro June 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm #

      Offline files is a feature that is only available on mobile computers (laptops and netbooks)
      Desktop PCs don;t have much of a need to sync network files as they are always a part of the network in which the files they want are stored.

      • Hgk November 14, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

        Except when you have slow connections and need a resident copy that will update in the background!

    • Sephiro June 8, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      And yes, I did not answer your initial question.  Offline Files is only available on Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions.

  8. Emanuel December 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm #

    The synch function of XP Professional doesn’t work on Windows 7 Home Premium or lower (“make available offline”). Upgrade zu “Professional” oder sonst SyncToy 2.1.

  9. Steve January 31, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Use Sugarsync. It is more user friendly and works great. They offer free and paid services

  10. Erichseber February 9, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I have Sugarsync too. its additional value is you maintain a backup online in case something happens. i would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. i have several computers, xp pro, 7 pro, and xp and sugar syncs works seamlessly with all. sometimes some issues. i think i pay $100 for 1 year of $35Gb of storage. it also allows me to share folders with clients so that is helpful too. I always keep my ears out though to see if something out there is better. Seems like Sync Center is good but not worth my changing at this point.

  11. Jubbmike September 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Can you pls tell me where on my lap top hard drive the offline files are stored?

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