Friday, March 22, 2013 handles multiple folders, but is it a band saw with no hand guard?

This post will be TMI for most readers who stumble across it, but it's important for anyone who is investigating the many sites that synchronize computers automatically.

[This post may be moot. I'm finding Copy is not syncing reliably. I've edited and added files on one computer that have taken ages to show up elsewhere, if at all. So, as of the moment (11:55pm, 2013-03-24), Copy is on my DO NOT USE list. This is one of those problems that I may not go back to check on if I find other services that work as I expect and fill my needs.]

DISCLAIMER: I have done my best to insure the accuracy of these instructions. However, I cannot guarantee that they will behave as described. Even if they behave as described, it is no guarantee that they will continue to behave this way in the future. I am not an employee of Barracuda Networks. I have no special knowledge of Copy beyond what I have taught myself by using it. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY DAMAGE THAT MIGHT RESULT FROM FOLLOWING THESE INSTRUCTIONS, EVEN IF THEY ARE FOLLOWED TO THE LETTER. In other words, trust no one and verify everything. I urge (warn!) you to try these instructions out on small unimportant folders to determine whether they produce the expected result. The existence of this disclaimer underscores why great care must be exercised in using links.

You may know that synchronization services are of two types: single folder and multiple folder. Single folder services create a special folder on one's hard drive. Everything to be synchronized, both files and folders, are moved into this special folder. Multiple folder services allow users to synchronize folders anywhere on their hard drives.

Copy appears to be a single folder service on the surface, but makes it very easy to synchronize multiple folders by creating shortcuts to the folders and moving the shortcuts into the special Copy folder established by Copy. However, like using a band saw without a hand guard, disaster can strike if one is not very careful. Things must be done in just the right order.

Here is the underlying principle: When folders are linked, their contents are NOT merged. Rather, the contents of the folder linked second replace the contents of the folder linked first! This is not an issue if both folders have the same contents. However

  • if a populated folder is linked to an empty folder, both folders will be populated, but
  • if an empty folder is linked to a populated folder BOTH FOLDERS WILL BE EMPTY!

To link folders outside of Copy,

  • On each computer create a shortcut to the folder you wish to link. The folders need not have the same name nor be in the same location. Once the shortcuts are created, change one or both of the shortcut names as you choose so that they are the same. Let's suppose I have a folder named Laptop on my laptop and Desktop on my desktop. I create shortcuts to the folders on their respective computers and change both names to Everywhere.
  • While both computers are logged into Copy, move the shortcut to the folder whose contents are unimportant to that machine's Copy folder. If I want the contents of my desktop's files to be synchronized, the Everywhere shortcut on my laptop is moved to my laptop's Copy folder.
  • Go to the other computer. QUIT COPY! Go to the Copy folder and delete the link that Copy moved from the other machine. It looks like a link but is really a folder that is a copy of the folder on the other machine that the shortcut points to. In my case, I would have QUIT COPY on my desktop and deleted the link to Everywhere from the laptop placed in the desktop's Copy folder.
  • Move the link to the folder whose contents you wish to preserve to the Copy folder on the second machine. I would move the Everywhere link I created on my desktop to my desktop's Copy folder.
  • Restart Copy on the second machine. The contents of the folder on the second computer will be moved to the first, if they are not already there. I would restart Copy on my desktop. Whatever is in the folder that everywhere points to on my desktop will now appear in the folder that Everywhere points to on my laptop's folder.
  • From now on, changes on either computer will be replicated on the other.

FWIW, I use Copy and have used the shortcut facility in the past, but I'm not doing so at the moment. This may make me go back to using it again.


  1. Thanks!
    Your tutorial is working!
    I spent the last week searching for a solution on how to sync folders between 2 PCs.

    Is there any new info regarding this issue?

  2. My "To Do" list contains an item to review everything again all at once. I'm hoping to do it sometime this month, but don't let that stop you if you want to try for yourself. I'm still using free versions of Dropbox, Cubby, and Syncbox. They work reasonably well, and that's part of the problem. It's easier to accept them with their blemishes rather than go through everything all over again.

    Now issues have been raised about recovered files being tagged with the time of recovery rather than their date modified at the time of deletion, so that, too, needs to be investigated.

    1. Interesting. Please continue updating. I'll be checking your blog.

      BTW I was successfully able to sync both my computers pretty easy using your method. I'm talking about more then 60GB and that worked flawlessly so thanks again.

      I hate Dropbox because of the single folder, and I really liked Cubby up until they started taking money for the p2p great service.
      I'm currently paying for Sugarsync which is amazing, but it's pretty expensive so I was looking for alternatives.

    2. I'll try this method.. but idk copy is not sync anything from my drive to clouds. what i did is i move copy folder to my D drive and move all content of the D drive into it. now its able to sync 16GB but now it stops and keeps saying scanning for changes and showing the check marks. yet need to sync another 4GB but not working and froze to 16GB only . and if you're looking for true unlimited p2p sync then i suggest this.

  3. [I have removed a series of comments discussing how the procedure had stopped working as the result of an update at However, there has been yet another update which has the procedure working again.]

  4. I ran into that issue where the files do not appear automatically. I found that Copy is more useful in group folders or to keep different pcs in sync. After all your files go up their servers, turn on the other computer or force a resync (pause and resume). That causes the sync to occur. But even if you don't do that, it will eventually sync back down to your computers any modified files. Eventually. But it's no dropbox! But then again, dropbox has its own pair of issues that make it unusable for me and 80Gb of data that Sugarsync and Copy handle with ease. I'm sticking to Copy. Their 30 version revision is also AWESOME. And 5GB for every referral? Please! Unbeatable for a great product that works :)

  5. Hi, has anyone had issue's with synching between pc (win7) and Imac (os x mavericks)?
    I had no problems while synching between pc - android phone - iphone...but when I tried adding an Imac to the loop of devices, everything stopped synching...including my windows7 machine at work...can't upload anything.
    My Imac at home starts synching but then stop 2/3 of the way.
    My mobile devices only see what was on the cloud prior to installing Copy on the Imac.
    A terrible mess I can't make heads or tails of and support is not very helpful.
    I switched from dropbox because of the large amount of free space, but if this is the case I'll be switching back :)

  6. Dump all of it. User Bit torrent Sync to do this.

  7. @Arun: Agreed. That's what I've done. I got tired of reviewing all of these services that didn't quite work.

  8. This is insane. Shortcuts are not symlinks. It should copy the literal shortcut file to the other computer, not its content. Ugh. This thing is crapping GB of data all over my hard drive.

    Also BitTorrent Sync deleted all my files when I tried to sync 2 folders that were already identical on the two machines. It somehow convinced itself that I had deleted them and deleted them from both machines. So no, BTSync is not a solution either.

    1. I agree that the COPY procedure is insane, but that's what they told me. I have/had no idea of how long it would work, hence my very strong disclaimer.

      I've had good luck with BTSync. The only time I thought it failed me was by not updating, but the program had been halted on one of the machines. Sometimes when files are changed or deleted, they are placed in a hidden .SyncArchive directory, but I haven't investigated what rules govern it.

      With the collapse of the charges for Web storage, I plan to get space with iDrive for backup as I continue to use BTSync for synchronization. However, as they say, YMMV.