The synced mac user (of course the cloud is in there)

in macOS edited January 2014
Hey guys and gals. I thought I 'd start a thread with something that is important to me, increasingly so, and I think it's one of the core issues of our tech times, that of having our files synced, safe, current and accessible across devices.

I 'd just like everyone who wants to, to chime in on what approach they are taking.

I am not here to shill mobileme but that is core to my aims so I am using it, it's not without its problems but I won't go into them right now. I 'll just say that having synced email across devices iphone, macs, other terminals is just such a treat.

What I am missing and I d like suggestions is what kind of software do I use to sync the actual folders in my devices: For the iphone I have some important stuff I keep in the apple cloud, the idisk, but for the rest of the macs I haven't found something to just automatically and without hassle sync my folders, and this is just such a bummer, a huge, huge bummer, I 've found myself going back and forth trying to find files....

Such a hassle....

But idisk won't sync automatically a certain local folder to the idisk (which will itself will sync with the same folder on another device) and boy is that important.

That said there have got to be some stand alone apps to do this, not that I have found anything that will cover me completely?ideally I would like something to push files, but I know technically this is hard and to the best of my knowledge has not been implemented?

Anyway, like I said, let's start this discussion here for anyone interested, I think managing files across platforms and macs is vital in this day and age, and what with most of us having a MAC TABLET soon, that will make it even more important, so many devices?we can't do it manually that's for sure, there needs to be an integrated solution. So developers welcome to to talk about, well, what they are developing.



  • Reply 1 of 8
    toxotestoxotes Posts: 102member
    I have two macs (desktop & portable), so this is an issue that is always on my mind, and like you I have tried many approaches to file syncing and am not completely satisfied with any of them. The one that I've been settling on for some time now is ChronoSync, which lets you keep any number of folders synced between two macs. I've created a number of sync jobs for all my stuff and they all run on a schedule every 15 minutes (I don't want to have to think about which computer I may edit one of my files on, so pretty much everything gets synced). It works fairly well but a couple of things prevent it from being the seamless, effortless solution I'd really like: first, the computers must be on the same network for it to work at all, so if I take my laptop to work or school, it can't sync while I'm gone, and I must either switch off the scheduler before I go or come home to dozens of error messages. Second, because you have to run it on a schedule, I'm constantly having to delay restarts or closing my laptop lid or do anything that may interrupt the connection between the two computers because it always seems to be in the middle of a sync just when I want to do something like that.

    I have tried Microsoft's FolderShare (which is now called Windows Live Sync), and it's better in both the above respects, but the "gotcha" is that no sync job can exceed 20,000 files, which means I would not be able to use it for my Pictures, Music, or Documents folder. If I can't use it for everything I'm not going to use it for anything because I don't want the complication of having to use two different sync programs.

    Of course, whenever you ambitiously try to keep files between two computers synced, you are tinkering with disaster (or foibles, anyway). More than once, in spite of what I thought was a working sync solution, I found myself editing an out-of-date version of a file.

    This is an issue that I wish another developer would try to address. Although there are other sync solutions out there, I don't want something that forces me to re-engineer my folder structure in order to use it (like Dropbox), or that costs a substantial monthly fee (also Dropbox, unless you only need to sync 2GB of files or less). But maybe others have tried some things that I haven't thought of.

    Oh yeah, and for mail, addresses, etc., I'm using MobileMe although perhaps one day I'll switch to Gmail like everyone else seems to have, which I think would eliminate the syncing issue for addresses and calendars since that's all web-based. Any IMAP-based e-mail server will allow e-mail to work seamlessly on two or more computers though.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    Hey Toxotes, happy new year!

    Chronosync has been one of the top choices on my list to try out, and after your suggestion, I ll give it a go. I can understand your issues with syncing, or not interrupting syncing to be exact, I had them too in my ubuntu/M$ days a few years ago with similar programs. That's why I thought a push system that centralizes in the cloud would be the best solution, but alas there's nothing there is seems that would work seamlessly.

    And I think you are spot on in terms of the overambitiously syncing files, a recipe for disaster. Still the files are there, and the multiple devices and we have to find a way to keep them all synced together, which an imperative as well as a challenge.

    Dropbox has been suggested to me too, why would it need re-engineering folder structure? My main quibble is that I am already paying for mobileme so it would be hard to justify another similar service.

    I actually switched from gmail to mobileme and despite some very evident shortcomings I just love how my send emails/read emails are marked and appear on mac/powerbook/iphone almost in real time. Couldn't have done it any other way. From my experience imap based email is good but it leaves a lot to be desired in terms of syncing mail accounts, mainly to do with sent mail and correctly marking mail as read.

    I hope some other people have tackled this and can share some of their make do solutions, or some developers might share their plans on this.

    In any case it's a very important bit of technology, that seems overlooked for the time being, or at least not adequately tackled. Ultimately it will have to be a combination of some home nas server catering for larger media files and the cloud syncing locally the rest for the other devices, and of course each application doing it's own syncing (mail, password manager, calendars, etc. etc.) over the cloud too.

    But like I said in my op, what with us soon having a smart phone, a laptop, a desktop and a reading/tablet device at hand the technology has to be leveraged to keep it all together otherwise we ll go bonkers trying to manually bring it all together and manage our ever larger and expanding file collections.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    toxotestoxotes Posts: 102member
    I too think that what MobileMe does, it does quite well--at least in terms of syncing. If it could sync all my user files as well as at syncs my contacts and calendars (well, better actually, because sometimes it doesn't work perfectly, although that's uncommon), I'd be a lot happier about paying that annual fee! But yes, even as it is I'll probably stick with it, just to keep my iPhone perfectly and effortlessly synced with my computers.

    What I meant about Dropbox forcing me to "re-engineer" my folder structure (which may have been a little dramatic on reflection!) is that, if I recall correctly, Dropbox creates a folder in your Home folder called "Dropbox" and every file you put in that folder is automatically synced to your other computers. But that means I have to move those files into the Dropbox folder if I want them to sync. Files of different types--documents, videos, music--must all be plunked into Dropbox. I could make folders within Dropbox, like "Documents", "Movies", "Music", "Pictures", etc.--anything I want synced--but then I have to put virtually all of my user folders into Dropbox (if I want just about all of them to sync between computers), and I don't think OS X takes too kindly to users moving--e.g., your Documents folder somewhere else. I'm sure there's a way to do it and get OS X to point properly to the new location, but this is hardly a simple solution any more. And if I don't choose to sync all my files, I end up with two parallel folder structures: one in Dropbox for files that sync, and the other in the "ordinary" place for files that don't. This seems counterintuitive to me. I'd rather be able to leave all my files where they are and have them sync in-situ! It's possible that I'm just not getting something here but it seems that having to move the files I want synced between computers is an unnecessary complication.

    Agree with everything you're saying about so many devices now all wanting access to the same data. Better solutions are needed to keep this optimally functional and straightforward for end-users!
  • Reply 4 of 8
    areseearesee Posts: 776member
    toxotes, What about creating the folders in Dropbox like you said and then placing aliases for them in their Home Folder counterparts?

    BTW I am using iDisk to store my eBooks. As I use iDisk Sync on my laptop these books are always available to me, even when I am disconnected from the network. And they are always available on my iMac.
  • Reply 5 of 8
    I am not sure how aliases would solve any problem, what toxotes and I are saying we need is to have all our folder organization as is and have them automatically synced to the cloud, which will be the starting point to so speak for the re-sync to their respective counterpart folders on other macs. I can't believe how no one is offering a solution, developers that is, to this.

    One way would be to chronosync I guess all local folders to dropbox counterparts but that would mean (if i understand dropbox correctly in that it creates a local folder too which then syncs to the cloud) that you would just have each file twice on your system... Of course chronosyncing to the idisk would be better as you d only have one copy locally, and one on the cloud, but still idisk is very limited in space.
  • Reply 6 of 8
    I don't sync. It takes too much time. And leads to too much confusion: was this project synced properly? Are they really identical on both machines? And those doubts never cease. They keep coming back. Plus: syncing takes unneccessarily much disk space, because you have everything twice.

    My home 24" iMac and 2TB external HD contain everything. And are backed up on another 2TB HD via Time Machine. A third 2TB external HD is stored off-location and physically exchanged every month with the up-to-date on-location one.

    For on the road I have a 17" MBP with a full system and a full set of applications and about 100GB of 'current data' and projects. If I need anything else I connect, using Teamviewer, to my home iMac, where Teamviewer is permanently running too (with properly set sleep mode: off; and using Caffeine as insurance) and simply download whatever files I want. Gigabytes in minutes, if needed.

    When finished with it I can send it back to my home iMac using Teamviewer again.
  • Reply 7 of 8
    toxotestoxotes Posts: 102member
    Originally Posted by aresee View Post

    toxotes, What about creating the folders in Dropbox like you said and then placing aliases for them in their Home Folder counterparts?

    BTW I am using iDisk to store my eBooks. As I use iDisk Sync on my laptop these books are always available to me, even when I am disconnected from the network. And they are always available on my iMac.

    Aliases is something I never thought of; thanks. However, I find Dropbox too expensive. If I wanted to sync everything, I'd be in their highest price category.

    I tried using iDisk for a while and even upgraded my online storage space, thinking I could keep my important files there, which would double as an automatic sync as well as online backup... the only problem is that, as far as I know, files on iDisk don't get backed up with Time Machine, so all that versioning protection is lost. Also, I think if I accidentally deleted a file from my iDisk, it would very soon be deleted forever with no backups. Once those two things occurred to me I decided that iDisk wasn't secure enough to use as a platform to serve my files... kind of a shame because it really would have circumvented a lot of my syncing problems!
  • Reply 8 of 8
    toxotestoxotes Posts: 102member
    Originally Posted by Rokcet Scientist View Post

    I don't sync....

    I like your approach! I've always assumed that I *had* to keep my computers in sync; this approach is refreshing and something I never even thought of. I think I'm going to give this some serious thinking, because seriously, it does get tiring constantly trying to think of the perfect syncing solution, and it's true that I'm never completely confident that a file is "the right version" when I'm syncing between computers.

    How do you find Teamviewer? I use Back to my Mac (MobileMe), but once I take my laptop out of the house it's just a crapshoot whether I'll be able to connect to my home computer with it.
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