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Q: Folder Replication - Between a PC and a Server ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Folder Replication - Between a PC and a Server
Category: Computers > Software
Asked by: timnmi-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 15 Aug 2006 09:23 PDT
Expires: 14 Sep 2006 09:23 PDT
Question ID: 756203
2 questions actually:

1) I want to replicate several of my work folders between my PC
(WinXP) and a server (WinServer2003). What's a nice simple way to do
this? I want to be able to work on files on the server or on my PC and
have them synchronised. Not big files. We're probably talking under
1GB of data in total across all files. I would connect to the server
via the web not via a network. Something like MS exchange server????

2) A related question - what about doing this across servers?
Basically if I've got 2 servers how do I keep them in sync? In this
case much larger data volumes. Maybe 100GB of data. So it's a higher
end task. Both servers would be in data centres but not the same one
(ie they would connect via the web).

Any help appreciated! Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by keystroke-ga on 16 Aug 2006 04:46 PDT
Looking at your questions you are asking two things.

1 How do I synchronise my folders between a PC and a Server over the Internet.

2 How do I synchronise my folders between 2 servers in 2 different
data centres over the web.

I will attempt to answer question 1 first. In order to do this
securely without running the risk of anyone sniffing your connection
you are going to require a VPN connection between your windows XP
machine and your windows 2003 server.

Once this is established and you can copy and paste any files you
require on the server you are most of the way there.

Find which files and folders you would like to share on the server, if
possible locate them all in a single folder (this will make
administration easier).

You are now going to configure something called Synchronization.

Once the folder has been created right click it and choose make
available offline. Tick the automatically Synchronize folder when I
log on and off. The files will now be synchronised and you will be
able to edit them offline and have the server versions updated when
you choose to manually synchronise or have a connection when you log

Alternatively you can use

White paper here

This power toy by microsoft eases file synchronisation by automating
the process for you.

Does this answer the first question? I will answer your second one now.


Request for Question Clarification by keystroke-ga on 16 Aug 2006 05:11 PDT
Question 2.
You wish to replicate files across a VPN/WAN connection over various
data centres. You mention you have Windows 2003 Server, do you have
the R2 release or the standard original release?

The R2 release has the functionality built into it in an improved
format and what you would like to do can be easily configured using
the Distributed File System within Windows 2003 Server R2.

Information is available here.

Using Windows 2003 RTM more information is available here

A brief section of text from the RTM SP1 document
"What does DFS do?
Distributed File System (DFS) allows administrators to group shared
folders located on different servers by transparently connecting them
to one or more DFS namespaces. A DFS namespace is a virtual view of
shared folders in an organization. Using the DFS tools, an
administrator selects which shared folders to present in the
namespace, designs the hierarchy in which those folders appear, and
determines the names that the shared folders show in the namespace.
When a user views the namespace, the folders appear to reside on a
single, high-capacity hard disk. Users can navigate the folders in the
namespace without needing to know the server names or shared folders
hosting the data. DFS also provides many other benefits, including
fault tolerance and load-sharing capabilities, making it ideal for all
types of organizations."

You would need to establish the VPN connections between the two sites
and ensure that the two servers could connect to each other without
problems. You can then configure the DFS service for replication.

If you feel that DFS is much too big for what you require you will be
able to use the Microsoft Powertoy for windows XP to perform folder

I have just performed a test on a Windows 2003 Domain controller and a
Windows 2003 Backup domain controller and the synchronisation worked

Transferring 100GB of data is going to take you a long time, you will
need very fast networking connections, I would suggest SDSL at an
absolutely minimum would be required. Backing up about that amount of
data onto a backup tape can take in excess of 4 hours.

If you have any questions please leave a coment or let me know if it
has answered what you wanted to know.


Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 16 Aug 2006 06:11 PDT

Another possible option, especially for Task #1, is a free program
called FolderShare:

This is a relatively recent offering from Microsoft, and can be
configured to automatically synchronize files across machines.

I'm not familiar enough with it to know for certain that it will do
the trick, but it seems worth a look.

Let me know what you think (and if keystroke-ga checks it out, I'd
like to know his thoughts as well!).


Request for Question Clarification by keystroke-ga on 16 Aug 2006 07:37 PDT
I like the look of that but I have never personally used it, I may
give it a go (time depending) and see if it is any good. We have to
give the obvious warning that the service is only beta and free which
means it could at any time fail you and Microsoft could change their
charging policy! I have certainly seen that happening.

When it comes down to it, you have to think about what you are most
confident in configuring, DFS and folder synchronisation is built into
windows itself and is an add on.


Clarification of Question by timnmi-ga on 17 Aug 2006 11:45 PDT
Foldershare looks good - just testing it now. Thanks. Happy to pay for
your tip on this so please submit that as an answer.

Clarification of Question by timnmi-ga on 17 Aug 2006 11:57 PDT

Can you break down the server replication process a little? I'm not
100% clear on DFS etc. And no worries about bandwidth, both servers
would have uncontended 10MB+ onto the web as they are both in data



Request for Question Clarification by cynthia-ga on 17 Aug 2006 17:41 PDT
LogMeInPro is another option. It works fine for this, I use it every day.

Check it out!

Request for Question Clarification by keystroke-ga on 18 Aug 2006 06:37 PDT
Before I say more I'd like to post an alternative I just found called CODA.

I have never used it before but it seems to fulfil your requirements to a degree.

Now on with the DFS, this website

gives you a very good overview of what DFS is and how to configure it.

"The Distributed File System is used to build a hierarchical view of
multiple file servers and shares on the network. Instead of having to
think of a specific machine name for each set of files, the user will
only have to remember one name; which will be the 'key' to a list of
shares found on multiple servers on the network. Think of it as the
home of all file shares with links that point to one or more servers
that actually host those shares. DFS has the capability of routing a
client to the closest available file server by using Active Directory
site metrics. It can also be installed on a cluster for even better
performance and reliability. Medium to large sized organizations are
most likely to benefit from the use of DFS - for smaller companies it
is simply not worth setting up since an ordinary file server would be
just fine.

Understanding the DFS Terminology
It is important to understand the new concepts that are part of DFS.
Below is an definition of each of them.

Dfs root: You can think of this as a share that is visible on the
network, and in this share you can have additional files and folders.

Dfs link: A link is another share somewhere on the network that goes
under the root. When a user opens this link they will be redirected to
a shared folder.

Dfs target (or replica): This can be referred to as either a root or a
link. If you have two identical shares, normally stored on different
servers, you can group them together as Dfs Targets under the same

The DFS targets are the replica of the original file, so basically you
have folder A on server A and want to replicate this to Server B on
folder B you set up your DFS root as folder A and and your DFS Target
as Folder B and replication occurs.

Some other older online books give you good information about it
"A DFS is a file system whose clients, servers, and storage devices
are dispersed among the machines of a distributed system or intranet.
Accordingly, service activity has to be carried out across the
network, and instead of a single centralized data repository, the
system has multiple and independent storage devices. The concrete
configuration and implementation of a DFS may vary - in some
configurations, servers run on dedicated machines while in others a
machine can be both a server and a client. A DFS can be implemented as
part of a distributed operating system, or alternatively, by a
software layer whose task is to manage the communication between
conventional operating systems and file systems. The distinctive
features of a DFS are the multiplicity and autonomy of clients and
servers in the system."
That website is specifically based on Windows 2003.

Let me know if that website gives you enough information.

Subject: Re: Folder Replication - Between a PC and a Server
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 18 Aug 2006 06:46 PDT

Thanks for accepting the information on FolderShare as an answer to your question.

I've been using the program for about a month now.  It's worked very
smoothly for me, and I've been impressed with its capabilities.

keystroke-ga and cynthia-ga have offered up some additional
information and options for you to consider.  If you need additional
information on these, you might want to post a new question, addressed
to the attention of a specific researcher (e.g. "Attn: keystroke", or
"For cynthia-ga, only") as they will be sure to see it that way.

Again, thanks, and best of luck.

Subject: Re: Folder Replication - Between a PC and a Server
From: keystroke-ga on 22 Aug 2006 10:32 PDT
How is foldershare doing with relation to your needs? I'd be
interested to find out its success rate with relation to replication
of shared folders and how secure it is. Can you post a quick review of
it here and how it was suited to what you required?


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