FolderShare has problems syncing XP & Vista machines


I have been using FolderShare for a long time to keep multiple machines synchronized and all of my documents available to me no matter which device I happen to be using.  It has worked flawlessly for me and I have recommended it quite heavily so I need to make sure readers are aware of a problem I have encountered that is affecting how well FolderShare is now working for me.  You recall that due to problems with Vista SP1 beta I rebuilt the Fujitsu P1610 with Windows XP and it was a good move.  The P1610 is working great with XP and I am happy I rolled back to XP.  FolderShare, however, is not as happy as I with the change.

After I moved back to XP I installed FolderShare and set it to sync MyDocuments to the HP p2710p as I had before.  Theinitial setup worked fine and I sat back and waited for the initialsync to run so subsequent syncs would be fast and done in thebackground as usual.  Since I had just rebuilt the P1610 from the HPthere was nothing to copy between them but it needed to catalog bothsystems so any changes to one of the devices would instantly bereflected on the other.   While this cataloging was taking place Istarted thinking about the different document handling between XP &Vista and wondered how FolderShare would handle it.  All of my Windowsdevices I have used with FolderShare successfully were all runningVista so the user document tree was the same on all devices, but nowwith XP involved that tree was different.

On Vista machines the document folder tree is something like this:



On Windows XP the tree looks like this:

documents and settingsusernameMy Documents

The My Music, and My Pictures folders are nested inside the My Documents folder instead of a unique tree under the Username folder so there is a distinct difference in the two trees.  It turns out that FolderShare has given me a problem but not one like I was expecting.  It seems that when FolderShare runs on the Vista machine and tries to create a folder in the Music directory it gets an error that implies there is not sufficient privilege to create it.  The only option at this point is to totally shut FolderShare down ending any ability to sync the devices.  I have corresponded with FolderShare tech support and their only advice was to sync the folders within each Document tree separately to insure the sync will be done correctly and no folder creation needs to be done on the Vista device(s).  In other words, even though Microsoft makes both operating systems and FolderShare, it can’t make FolderShare handle the two OSes properly in a sync situation. 

This surprises me because it’s not complicated to figure out that My DocumentsMy Music should sync to the UsernameMusic folder in Vista.  The tech support team suggested I set all of this up by hand to work properly.  The only problem is that in the Documents tree on Vista and the My Documents tree on XP I have dozens of folders to set up manually and FolderShare won’t let me do it.  The folders are not selectable in the sync setup screen so I can’t do it.  I haven’t gotten anything to work because Vista keeps erroring out trying to create folders under the Music folder on the HP.  I have manually set the folder tree to allow creating folders but it still errors out when FolderShare tries and when I do a property check on the Music folder it says it’s read-only, even after just de-selecting that option.  Vista is protecting me from syncing my files so I’ll have to get a solution to this to make FolderShare work.


Jeff Rutledge

Hey James,

Did you ever get this working? Although I had a workaround in place (see above), I’ve got a new issue because one of the computers (my wife’s) has iTunes installed. iTunes insists on creating a folder within the My Music folder on launch which is then causing an error on the Vista PC when it tries to sync.

I was hoping you had found a fix for this you could share.

Rick H

Why not switch to using Windows Home Server and use Vista Business/XP Professional’s Offline files & folders feature to keep your folders in sync?


I’ve always synced one level lower. My Documentsshared is synced across all of my machines, rather than just My Documents.

Jeff Rutledge

I’ve had the same issue. I found a solution, although it did mean giving up Vista’s folder structure. In short (using Pictures as the exmaple), I didn’t use either Vista’s or XP’s native folder. I just created a folder within My Documents (on XP) called “Pictures” and put them in there. I did the same with Music, Videos, etc.

The result is my Vista “Pictures” folder and my XP “My Pictures” folder are empty and all my pics are my own folder: (My) DocumentsPictures.


For real fun try Windows for Workgroups on a current vintage machine it rawks more than XP could.

group hug

Scott H

“I just need to get permissions set to allow this to happen (and prevent the problem from happening again in the future).”

There’s the rub. While I was using Vista, UAC frustrated me at every turn. I decided to be a trooper and leave it on, but it prevented me from doing what should have been some very routine operations (such as saving a Favorite bookmark in IE7).

Btw, this weekend I finally “downgraded” from Vista to XP on my new laptop. So far, I couldn’t be happier. It feels comfortable, again. Now, not only can I use all of the other hardware I own (but which didn’t have Vista drivers and, due to age, probably never will), but everything just feels “natural.” And, although I can’t prove it, everything seems to be snappier.

James Kendrick

I appreciate all the good ideas but I’m trying to keep this simple. I like the documents file structure in Vista. The junction points in Vista are designed to handle this syncing properly, I just need to get permissions set to allow this to happen (and prevent the problem from happening again in the future).

Scott H

I forgot to add, I actually redirect the folders to a subdirectory called “Files,” i.e.:

Documents -> Z:FilesDocuments
Music -> Z:FilesMusic

That way, assuming the folder structure is the same on all your Vista and XP PCs, you can just sync the “Files” subdirectory.

Scott H

JK, take a look at the second link I posted above. Vista lets you easily change the location of these folders — much easier than with XP. In fact, the capability is “built-in” instead of requiring a Tweak UI-type application. If I understand your problem correctly, I think this will work for you:

“Use folder redirection to map your User folders to the equivalent folders on the Z drive [or wherever you’d like to re-direct them] – and put ALL of your personal files in these folders.

“This is an important step; you should always know exactly where your most important files are being stored. The easiest way to do this is to mirror the C:Users[username] folder in terms of structure, so whenever you’re working with “Documents” launched from Explorer or from the Start menu, you know exactly what you’re working on.

“This is how I map the folders inside “Mike”:

Desktop – Z:Desktop
Favorites – Z:Favorites
Documents – Z:Documents
Music – Z:Music
Pictures – Z:FilesPictures
Videos – Z:FilesVideos

“For whatever reason, there isn’t a way to just map the [username] folder – instead you have to map each folder underneath it individually.

“Update, 8/10: I forgot to mention how to do this. It’s actually pretty easy, you just need to right-click on the folder (i.e. Desktop) and go to Properties. Then go to the Location tab and specify the new location (i.e. Z:Desktop) and click OK. You can see a screenshot of how to do this here.”

Also, if you do this, make sure you create the “new” folders first before you redirect the “old” folders to them.

James Kendrick

These symbolic links in Vista are called junction points by MS and I just found the following disturbing info about them in a KB (I was searching how to change the permissions so FolderShare could work):

By default, a junction point has the following settings after you upgrade Windows XP to Windows Vista:
• The attribute of a junction point is hidden.
• The Read permission of a junction point is Deny.
If you change these default settings, the system will become unstable.

The unstable part is what really concerns me.

James Kendrick

Lyle, I have used the My Documents structure because it works fine for me and a lot of programs I use expect to put stuff there. It was always just easier to use it as Windows desired.

This problem is turning into a symbolic link problem in Vista that is preventing FolderShare from being able to create sub-folders in the linked structure. I still favor FolderShare and wish to use it here as it’s always worked favorably for me. It is durn near bullet-proof itself.


James I’m surprised to hear that a sophisticated user like yourself is using the default “My Documents” folder for anything at all. Years ago, I read many comments about how people’s profiles would get corrupted by Windows and they would lose the ability to get anything stored in this directory since it is tied to your user account.

For many years I have created my own C:Data or D:Data directories. This also makes it much easier when I want to do a backup because all of my data is in a central location. Of course there are still a few programs out there that insist on putting their data stores somewhere else, most irritatingly in their program folder.

I currently use SyncToy to synchronize about 50GB of data between a work and home PC. It’s funny that you’re writing this post now because just this week I went and downloaded the FolderShare installer based on reading your postings about it. I haven’t yet had a chance to set it up, but I’m hoping that I can have it synchronize any folders that I choose, and not just the default “My Documents” stuff. Please let us know if you find a solution to this problem since I would also be trying to synchronize between various machines that have XP and Vista.

James Kendrick

I have been playing with this all morning and cannot get Vista to let me change either the attributes nor the permissions for the “My Documents” symbolic links. This must be the problem that FolderShare is running into. Anybody know how to do this?

Michael Brown

Vista introduced the concept of Symbolic links to the Windows NTFS file system. Linux/Unix has had ‘SymLinks’ for quite a while now. If you open a command prompt in your Documents folder and do a ‘dir /ahp’ (going from memory here – if it doesn’t work, do dir /? and look for the switches for all files and hidden files).

You’ll notice that My Pictures and My Music are Symlinks to the UserPictures and UserMusic directories. You may be able to modify the permissions on those links to make it easier for FolderShare to work. I haven’t played much with the Vista Symlinks yet, as I have my Vista laptop mount the Samba home directory share, where I’ve done my Symlinking on the Linux Fileserver.

Hope that helps!


Kevin C. Tofel

While I completely agree that FolderShare should work between XP and Vista, we have to remember one thing. Microsoft didn’t create FolderShare, they bought it. That happened well before Vista was introduced and I don’t think the application has been updated since the purchase. (I could be wrong on that last bit though.) Regardless, this type of problem shouldn’t even exist. If you’re going to ensure backwards compatibility between OS’s that you offer, you should definitely test your own apps regardless of whether you built them or bought them.


You could use TweakUI for XP to redirect your “standard” folders (My Documents, My Music, etc.) to another location where you use the same directory names and structure that Vista uses (Documents, Music, etc.). I’m not sure if this would solve the problem, but it has some other benefits, as described in this Mike Torres blog post:!FBABF8E542F5D5DB!695.entry
(see #2)

Here’s another post where he updates this strategy for Windows Vista:!FBABF8E542F5D5DB!8775.entry

James Kendrick

Simon, I believe you are on to the problem. I can now see a My Documents icon in the James Kendrick folder but it’s a link only and I can’t even click on it without getting a permission error. This is what FolderShare is probably running into. It’s definitely a Vista problem and one that FolderShare users won’t run into until they try to sync Vista to XP as I thought.


Vista has a folder under /users/(username)/ called “My Documents”. Under that is “My Music”, “My Pictures” .. these link to the matching users/(username)/ folder (Documents, Music and Picures). All the XP “My..” folders are represented.
The “My Documents” folder is visible from explorer if you uncheck the “hide protected operating system files” option in Folder and Search Options, but Vista won’t let you do anything with the folder.
However, if you navigate there using the command prompt and copy some files into /users/(username)/My Documents, they appear in /users/(username)/Documents.
I know that it’s readable as well as writeable because I discovered SyncBackSE was copying everything from these folders as well, so my network backup was twice as large.
I’ve synced files into these folders using SyncBackSE with no problems
I’m wondering if you can setup FolderShare to sync to /users/(username)/My Documents.

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