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Peer-to-peer synchronization

In typical SmartSync hierarchies, sync copies must have access to the parent file to synchronize changes to it and to any other sync copies. In situations where access to the parent file is not possible, such as out in the field, you can use peer-to-peer synchronization to connect to, and synchronize with an off site peer instead. While we typically recommend that you always maintain a connection to the parent file, engagement teams working off site may not have the VPN resources to accomplish this.

In a peer-to-peer synchronization environment, one user must be designated as the peer parent. The peer parent shares their sync copy with other staff in the field, which they then use as their own sync copies. Changes to these sync copies transmit back to the peer parent's sync copy as if it were the parent file. If a VPN connection is available to the user with the file selected as the peer parent, then they can connect to the parent file back at the office and transmit all of the changes from the off site users.

Set up peer-to-peer synchronization

Before heading out into the field, you must create a sync copy of the parent file on the workstation you will take off site. This sync copy will be used by the peer parent to distribute sync copies to other users. For more information, see Create a sync copy.

To distribute the sync copy to other users, the peer parent must share the sync folder on their workstation. Users will require local user accounts on the peer parent's workstation to access the shared folder.

To set up local user accounts:

  1. In Windows, open Control Panel.
  2. Click User Accounts | Give other users access to this computer. The User Accounts dialog displays.
  3. Click the Advanced tab. In the Advanced user management group, click Advanced. The Local Users and Groups dialog displays.
  4. Right-click the Users folder and click New User.... The New User dialog displays.
  5. Enter a user name and password for the user. Click Create.

The local user account is created. Repeat this process to generate local user accounts for each of the users that you want to access the shared folder.

To share the sync folder:

  1. Navigate to the sync folder containing your local sync copy.
  2. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  3. Click the Sharing tab. In the Network File and Folder Sharing group, click Share....
  4. Enter each of the user names for the local user accounts created in the previous procedure. Click Add.
  5. In the list of shared users, change the Permission Level to Read/Write for each of the local user accounts. Click Share.

The local user accounts now have access to the shared sync folder. To access the folder, users will need to connect to the peer parent using a shared router or switch.

To connect to the peer parent:

  1. Open Working Papers.
  2. On the ribbon, click File | Open | Computer, then click Browse...
  3. In the Open Existing File window, open the Network and browse for the peer parent's workstation. Click it to open the login dialog.
  4. Enter the user name and password provided by the peer parent, then click Login.
  5. On the peer parent's workstation, browse to the shared sync folder and select the sync copy within.
  6. At the bottom of the Open Existing File window, select Create a Synchronized Copy, then click Open.
  7. The sync copy opens in Working Papers. In the Status bar, click the Synchronization Status menu, then click Connect to SmartSync Copy....
  8. Browse to the shared folder once more and select the peer parent's sync copy. Click Connect.

Your local sync copy is connected to the peer parent. The peer parent can verify the users connected to their sync copy from the Synchronization Properties dialog. Users can continue to access your sync copy until you disable their local user accounts.


  • For users to work on their sync copy in an Online sync status, they must be connected to the same router or switch as the peer parent.
  • Windows currently only permits up to 20 concurrent inbound connections. Additional users may have to work offline until they can rotate in their synchronizations.
  • If the peer parent is unavailable, you can use your sync copy as a temporary parent by performing the same setup steps as the peer parent (create local user accounts, share the sync folder). Users can then click the Synchronization Status menu and click Connect to SmartSync Copy..., then navigate to your sync copy and select it. The sync status icon for these users will display in yellow (A circular yellow icon that represents synchronization with a SmartSync peer parent) to inform them that they are connected to another sync copy, rather than the peer parent.

Ending a peer-to-peer session

Before returning to the office, ensure that each user synchronizes their changes with the peer parent and resolves any conflicts. This ensures that the parent file only needs to reconcile changes from the peer parent, rather than each of the sync copies used in the field. After synchronizing with the peer parent, you can delete your sync copy.

After returning to the office, you can synchronize the peer parent with the original parent file. Note that the peer parent may not automatically reconnect to the parent file. To reconnect to the parent file, click the Synchronization Status menu, then click Connect to SmartSync Copy... and select the parent file.

You can now delete the peer parent copy.