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I have two desktop workstations in different locations for work. Unfortunately there is no way around it. Using a notebook or using one of the machines remotely is not an option for the tasks at hand.

Since modern age cloud services make it easy to have files synced over multiple working environments, the only bother seems to be managing the workstation itself.

Is there a way to keep two Windows machines in sync on a system level? The two machines in question are physically absolutely identical.

I am looking for a solution that keeps everything in sync, including installed programs, system updates and the registry.

It does not necessarily have to work via network. Carrying a mass storage device between the two would be acceptable, as long as the actual syncing does not take longer than say 10 minutes for each synchronization.

  • If you've got a programming background, this sounds like something that Powershell Desired State Configuration can handle. – rrirower Apr 26 '17 at 15:41
  • Thanks for the DSC idea. Unfortunately, this solutions seems to only enable me to create a configuration and roll it out on machines. What I would need is a tool, that syncs one system to the other, whenever something changes. Meaning that if I change system settings on one machine, I will find the same settings on the other a bit later. And if I install a program on the second machine, I would need that to be synced back to the first. – binaryaddict Apr 26 '17 at 19:26
  • So my solution if you wanted Linux would be to just run Linux directly off a portable hard drive. You wouldn't even be tied to the exact same hardware... So, a line of thought to chase... IF you disable the on-board hard drive in the BIOS, can you install Windows to and run it from an external hard drive via USB/e-SATA connection? If not, what apps are likely to change? There are lots of things that can run via portableapps .... – ivanivan Apr 27 '17 at 18:40
  • @ivanivan Thanks for the answer. It seems this will be the way to go. I guess I'll rather be looking for a removable hdd bay, since those are a bit faster than any external drive IMO. – binaryaddict Apr 28 '17 at 20:02
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Syncing the state of two machines exactly means you need to effectively clone the two hard drives whenever a change is done to one of them. This is non-trivial problem since they are separated.

Since the machines have exactly the same hardware, you could use a removable drive bay and put the system hard drive in it. When you are done for the day, shut down the machine and remove the drive bay with the drive in it and take it with you to the second machine and boot with it. This way you will not have the problem of keeping two drives in sync as you will have one drive to deal with. You can only do this if you can afford to have the machines shutdown when you are not using them. You will need to do this for the system drive where windows is installed. For data drives, you can use something like Resilio (formerly BittorentSync) or Syncthing if you rather not carry another drive.

  • Thanks for your answer. If I don't happen to stumble upon a tool that offers incremental system backup/restore or some such, that will probably be the way to go for me. – binaryaddict Apr 28 '17 at 7:19

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