Help! I’m syncing!

I never had a backup schedule. I just copied my files every now and then to an external hard drive, but not nearly regularly enough. The hard drive I back it up to sits right next to my laptop most of the time. This is fine if the laptop fails and I need to get the files back, but what about if the house burns down? Both my hard drive and laptop would be destroyed without any chance of getting the data back. So I decided that I would make my computer back up the files online, because having your data mirrored somewhere else is always a good idea.


SkyDrive was the most convenient service for me to use because for only £6 per year I can get 45GB of synchronisable online storage, by far the cheapest out there for the features it provides. In contrast you’d pay around £60 for Dropbox (50GB) or £20 for Google Drive (25GB) for a very similar experience. I have 50GB for free with ADrive, but that doesn’t do automatic syncing, so is quite laborious to back up files.

The difference between shortcuts and junctionsSo anyway, SkyDrive works very similarly to Dropbox in the way that it synchronises any files you put in a particular folder. I thought at first that only being able to synchronise just this one folder made the whole online backup concept unfeasible because I’d have to move everything inside it. Then I remembered one of my lecturers talking about junctions, a type of shortcut that appears as a regular folder rather than a link. That wasn’t a very good explanation, so try to understand the picture on the right (that might not be exactly what Windows does). No luck understanding? I’ll try and explain with an example.

Take the iTunes Music folder. If I move my songs from that folder to SkyDrive, iTunes will complain. If I don’t move the songs, I can’t back them up. I could make a copy of the folder, but that would mean I have 2 copies of my library taking up much more hard drive space than I need. However, if I make a junction link from the SkyDrive folder pointing to the iTunes folder, it looks like my iTunes has been copied to my SkyDrive, but it is in fact just pointing to the same data on the hard drive. If I change anything in the iTunes folder, it is also changed in the SkyDrive folder.


In Explorer, folders and junctions look the same, but the command line says differently.

Making a junction can be done in the command line using mklink /J [name] [location], like in the screenshot below.

Yes, my console is purple. And what?

So back to the point, using junctions is a little fiddle which means you can synchronise any folder on your computer with SkyDrive, not just the contents of the SkyDrive folder. This makes it perfect for keeping an online copy of all your files, and you never have to worry about backing stuff up again.


2 thoughts on “Help! I’m syncing!

  1. rikki

    Great guide, never managed to get this working before. Should be noted that Microsoft have said they're going to add selective folder sync some time soon so you won't need to do this forever 🙂

  2. Dan

    It's odd – just after I posted this I decided to upload 6GB of files I made when I was in secondary school and SkyDrive threw a massive wobbly recurring over the same file. Long story short I ended up unlinking and linking up again, and it seems to be behaving itself now. It's going to take so long to upload though!


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