Microsoft has launched a new, free but unsupported synchronisation tool, SyncToy, which it said "provides an easy to use, highly customisable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronisation of different directories."

Using a wizard-style interface to walk the user through the setup and copying process, it can, according to Microsoft, "manage multiple sets of directories at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another. Unlike other applications, SyncToy keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronised folder."

However, SyncToy only works with Windows XP SP2, so sadly isn't suited for use with servers, most of which are likely to be running something other than XP. However, for desktop client backup and syncing between desktops and laptops - something many users demand from their IT departments. Currently the best free tool for the job is the open source tool as rsync - but SyncToy could be a more user-friendly answer.

Microsoft has been careful to point out that the tool is unsupported. Though there is a user forum here.