If you spend any significant amount of time supporting Windows systems, you will probably have used one or more of the Sysinternals tools at some point. You may also know that they recently added the Sysinternals Live service, which allows you to run any of the tools directly from the web.
While it's useful to be able to run these tools directly from the web, I still like to keep a copy of them on my laptop, because you never know when you might need one when no Internet connectivity is readily available. Previously, I'd update the tools on my laptop as new versions became available, but because the tools are now available via a regular UNC path, I've configured one of my other favourite tools, SyncToy, to update the Sysinternals tools directly from the web with minimal effort.
This guide is written with SyncToy v1.4 in mind, which works on 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Vista. If you're running a x64 edition of Windows, you'll need to use SyncToy v2.0 Beta, which adds x64 support, along with other new features.
If you are not already using SyncToy, you will need to download it from one of the links above and install it. Installation is straightforward, just note that it will install to your user profile by default, not to Program Files, so make sure you install it while logged in using your regular user account.
Configuring a new folder pair
SyncToy works with folder pairs. You select a "left" and "right" folder, then select the synchronisation type you want to perform between the two. There are a few types of sync you can choose from and these are well described in the SyncToy user interface, so I won't elaborate on all of them.
The process for creating a new folder pair is detailed below. I keep the Sysinternals tools in C:\Sysinternals on my laptop, you can adjust this as necessary. The sync type I use is "echo" which simply ensures that the "right" folder is an identical copy of the "left" folder.
Run SyncToy and click Create New Folder Pair.
In the Left Folder box, type the UNC path \\live.sysinternals.com\tools, click Next and for the Right Folder, browse to the folder on your machine where you want the tools to be synchronised to. Click Next.
Select the Echo option, click Next.
Give your folder pair a name and click Finish.
Synchronising the tools from the web to your PC
Now that you have defined a folder pair, you can synchronise the tools by clicking the Run button.
After a short while you should see the screen below and your Sysinternals tools will be updated to the latest versions.
Keeping the tools updated
To keep your copy of the tools updated, all you need to do is run SyncToy every so often, select the folder pair you created and click the Run button again. You can also schedule SyncToy to run on a regular schedule, although I haven't bothered doing that at this stage. If you want to go ahead and do that, click on the SyncToy's Help menu and click Learn How to Schedule SyncToy.