Syncing existing directories on two nodes containing already files

Hi there,

despite of looking for hours I couldn´t find help for my simple syncing scenario (at least I thought it is): syncing two directories, where already files are stored in. For example documents folder on my desktop and on my laptop. Partly the files differ, partly are the same files on both sides.

Working on my laptop I need the same files I´ve had an the desktop. It was easy possible to install Syncthing on all my home network machines (Raspberrypi, other SBCs, desktop and laptop), but my final setup should be a “central provider” - one of the Raspberries working 24/7 - all the others syncing with it.

Before setting up the above final scenario I’ve tried to connect two nodes, what’s not complicated; but I never was lucky to sync two existing directories (the same Folder ID didn´t help).

Syncing new directories is simple and reproducible - but my described case is driving me crazy.

Till now my understanding was that Syncthing is able to compare the content of two existing directories and then transferring the differing files in both directions.

I apologize if my question (and the answer of course) is too simple.

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Yes. After the initial sync they will be identical. Nothing will be deleted in that sync.

OK, many thanks for confirming my understanding (by the way: you´re fast as lightning). Sadly my problem still remains. What I´ll do is trying with test-directories again step by step on my desktop and laptop. I´ll tell the result.

You may want to check Not exactly the same situation, but it does explain step by step how to sync two folders with pre-existing files.

If the problem remains, please post screenshots showing the Syncthing Web GUI on all affected devices, including version numbers and such.

I come to like this community a lot. Many thanks! I’ll try, test and report afterwards.

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OK it works, but only partly. Some folders could be synced, others not - at least not directly.

Maybe there’s a limit of files contained in the folder? My ‘Documents’ folder for example had about 1K files and around 10GB, the Music folder too. For both Syncthing created a new empty one with the same name, despite the fact of writing the correct directory path.

My workaround was to copy all the files from “Documents” to the new created “Documents” folder - Syncthing then started immediately the sync process; afterwards I deleted the old folder.

Not ideal, because the paths are not valid any more; this little inconvenience I can handle.

There is no such limit, and even if there was, a thousand files is nothing. There are extreme cases with millions of files in a folder (see

What operating system does this happen in though? If we’re talking about Windows and a non-English version on top of that, then I’d strongly suggest to check the actual folder paths, because they are not what Windows Explorer displays (e.g. a folder called 내 문서 in Korean is actually located at %USERPROFILE%\Documents, etc.).

Many thanks, you´re right. Finally I´ve got it. Win 10 German mislead me obviously translating (only) some of the foldernames. Changing the whole path to original english works - even if WinExplorer shows something else.

Apparently I was mislead by the fact, that folder “Videos” is German as English the same - it worked as shown. Only “Dokumente” instead of “documents” and “Musik” instead of “music” didn´t work.

Syncthing is great, my final setup should work now: one SBC is running 24/7, desktop and laptop synchronizing with it send-receive, smartphone only send. 2 additional SBCs are connected to the 24/7. Important: “real” backups are done by one or two UrBackup servers.

Thank you all for your kind support.

Additional hint - not strictly related to the initial topic; regarding my backups mentioned above: because of the great possibilities of Syncthing I´ll reconfigure my backups of the clients inside Syncthing as only “send” (and the “server” as only “receive”) and will uninstall Urbackup. For me it´s the best solution, now knowing how to handle existing folders on Windows full of files :smile:

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