Helping first sync by manual copy

I have two very large folder structures that I plan to keep in sync using Syncthing. They are on two separate locations with some lower bandwidth networks inbetween.

Since it will take a very long time for the first sync (basically copying all files from host a to host b over the net), I was thinking; is there a way where I can copy all files from host a on a USB disk, travel to host b and copy the files from the disk to the remote folder?

I know from my initial tests that there are ways where I could severely confuse syncing if I do this the wrong way…

Does any one have a good suggested procedure for this?

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@roseen, welcome to Syncthing

Yes, you can help first sync by copying files. Add the Syncthing folders on each device, but don’t share them with each other. Copy the files in your file manager to the destination. After that rescan the folders on both sides so that Syncthing knows all the files. Then share them. Syncthing will exchange file information but existing files (or parts) will not be transferred.

Always make sure that if you add many files to a folder that is used by Syncthing, that the folders are either paused or Syncthing is not running. Then run rescan.

Keep in mind that files may change on host A while you travel to host B

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Thank you very much!

A question that feels stupid - I’ve actually been using Syncthing for quite a while - If I add one folder on each device, will they not be considered completely separate items? And then when I share them with the other side, each side will have two folders?

Or is there a way to share a folder, such that the receiving side merges it with an existing folder?

Folders are tied together by their folder ID. Syncthing will generate a random one when you create the folder, but you can also fill in your own at that point (copying it from the other side for example).

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OK, I didn’t know it was allowed to change the generated Id. Thanks a lot for the quick answer!


I believe such case should be described in FAQs. It appears here at least twice.

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