Remote Offline Folder Synchronization

Posted on 2008-06-18
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-02
Hi there

I am trying to create a backup methodology for our remote laptop users. The idea is to use offline folder synchronization to synchronize their My Docs folder from their laptop back to our server so we have a copy in the event that their laptop crashes. This will also be available to them when they come in to the office and use a desktop but this is very infrequent.

To curve ball is that I would like the synchronization to occur without an active VPN tunnel and without the user manually initiating the sync. Ideally, the synchronization should occur similar to the way RPC over HTTP works. Is this even possible? If so, could someone guide me through it? I'm really a novice.

Thank you very much
Question by:saj_37uk
  • 4
  • 3
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 21818829
1. How do you want the sync to start?
2. Will you initiate it from the head office or will it be automatic?
3. How will you make sure the user is online ie the internet?
4. Do you want to initiate a VPN tunnel for the Sync or are you looking to do it unencrypted across the internet?

Author Comment

ID: 21818845
1) I want it to be automatic - so lets say the user is inactive for 5 minutes, the computer should automatically sync with the server.

2) It should be automatic - maybe setup in the offline folder synchronization settings in group policy

3) Yes connected via the internet. Since this is user initiated (all be it automatically by the client laptop) we don't need to worry about users being online to synch at specific times or moments

4) I would like to do it in a secure fashion - we're using HTTP over RPC for Exchange and this works very well for us because the user doesnt need to connect via a VPN. My concern about the VPN is that many of our users will not connect to the VPN because they are lazy and hence synchronization will not occur.

Thanks again for your help.
LVL 22

Accepted Solution

mcsween earned 2000 total points
ID: 21818925
RSYNC is the way to go with this.  Because you are using internet bandwidth which is unpredicitable you only want to sync what has changed.  RSYNC is pretty unique where it only syncs the bits of the file that have changed, not the entire file.  So if you make a text edit to a 50MB powerpoint presentation it only has to replicate the 15k you changed.  I use it on my network to sync between remote workstations in the field.  I do not use SSH since all my clients are behind hardware IPSEC VPNs.

Have a look at this website...


1. Instead of using CROND to schedule the jobs use task manager.  You can deploy a GPO to schedule the tasks or even a simple script using the AT command.

2. You will not need a linux server to do this.  Just install Cygwin tools on the server you want your clients to store their files in.  RSYNCD and SSHD are options you can select during the install.  Check this website for more info... http://ist.uwaterloo.ca/~kscully/CygwinSSHD_W2K3.html
It doesn't talk about RSYNCD but you can get info on that here...
More info on RSYNC and XP here...

I'm sure you can find a way to automate a msi package and deploy cygwin and rsync to your clients via AD.  There are no registry settings, only path settings and those can be easily scripted in VB.

Here are 2 free MSI packagers for this...

All docs you find for SSHD or RSYNC will apply to you.

Has Powershell sent you back into the Stone Age?

If managing Active Directory using Windows Powershell® is making you feel like you stepped back in time, you are not alone.  For nearly 20 years, AD admins around the world have used one tool for day-to-day AD management: Hyena. Discover why.

LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 21818928
oh yeah, i forgot to mention it's all free

Author Comment

ID: 21841069
Hi Mcsween

I'm having a little trouble setting this up. From everything that I have read, my understanding is as follows:

1) Setup SSH on Windows server
2) Setup Rsync on the Windows server
3) Somehow get SSH to work without asking for a password using a public key - i can't seem to get this to work
4) Create a NAT from an external IP address to the Rsync server with port 27 open
5) Install cygwin on the remote client with the same installation options as the server, just dont configure it
6) Use a batch file containing the necessary commands and the task scheduler to execute the sync every hour (or whatever interval).

My only concern here is that I am trying to syncronize the My Documents folder, and as I understand everything I have read, the files need to be in the folder c:\cygwin for me to rsync them. Is this correct? How would I get out of the c:\cygwin folder and access c:\Documents and Settings\$User\... folder?


Author Comment

ID: 21841072
Oh and another question, do the files have to be stored in the c:\cgywin folder on the server? Is there anyway I can specificy that I want the files stores in: c:\profiles\MyDocs$\$USERNAME$\ folder?

LVL 22

Assisted Solution

mcsween earned 2000 total points
ID: 21846829
When you open a cygwin prompt in Windows you can refrence your local filesystem through the cygdrive folder.  For example

c:\ = /cygdrive/c
d:\ = /cygdrive/d

This link will help you with setting up a public key for SSH.

Featured Post

Upgrade your Question Security!

Your question, your audience. Choose who sees your identity—and your question—with question security.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.

Join & Write a Comment

Scripts are great for performing batch jobs against users, however sometimes the GUI is all you need.
Sometimes it necessary to set special permissions on user objects.  For instance when using a Blackberry server, the SendAs permission needs to be set. I see many admins struggle with the setting that permission only to see it disappear within a few…
This video shows how to use Hyena, from SystemTools Software, to bulk import 100 user accounts from an external text file. View in 1080p for best video quality.
Michael from AdRem Software outlines event notifications and Automatic Corrective Actions in network monitoring. Automatic Corrective Actions are scripts, which can automatically run upon discovery of a certain undesirable condition in your network.…

624 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question