Monday, June 3, 2013

Syncing devices: June 2013 edition

As long as this notice appears, this is a work in progress. I will be reevaluating many services that keep PCs synchronized. I will be reporting on each service as I consider it, rather than wait 'till the end to report on all of them at once.

When necessity dictated a few months ago that I find a method of synchronizing my PCs to work along side of the venerable Dropbox, I found, literally, a half dozen new services just entering the market. I reviewed them as best I could and came up with a(n interim?) solution that proved serviceable. Things were evolving so rapidly then as the services shook their bugs out that I ended up relying on one product that I originally found entirely unacceptable! Since two months has elapsed since those investigations, the time seems ripe to have another look.

Everyone will have his/her own criteria for choosing a particular service. These are the ones that turned out to be important for me. I list them because these are the lenses through which I'm making my evaluations. As they say on the Internet, YMMV.

  • Are files kept synced, without noticeable lag time for small updates?
  • Are the time stamps right? Many services were stamping files with the date they were synced rather than the date they were last modified. (Imagine twenty years worth of memos with the same time stamp!)
  • Can synced directories reside anywhere on a drive or must they be subfolders in a folder specific to the syncing service?
  • When a folder already exists on multiple machines, will the service recognize this, or will it insist on copying everything over from what it identifies as a "master" version? This is not an issue for a few gigabytes of files but can loom large when music libraries of tens of thousands of files and hundreds of gigabytes are involve.

So, here we go...

  • Jottacloud: No change. I copied a multi-level directory with 4,000+ small files (mostly html). I then installed Jottacloud on another machine and checked to see if any of the downloaded files were tagged with the time they were copied rather than the time they were last modified. Just 1, darn it! An executable.

    It struck me that I should run the same directory through all of the services.

  • Dropbox: No problems.
  • Cubby: No problems.
  • Syncbox: OMG!!! Syncbox is changing the time stamp on EVERY FILE! I don't kow how I missed this before. Syncbox is being removed from my computers as I type this!

1 comment:

  1. You have to make sure that your needs meets, or at least, is under what you are being limited to. Synchronizing important documents must be done carefully so that you won't have any problem with the stored information that you'll use in the future. Anyway, you have good pointers here which can give other users a hint about what to consider in evaluating their systems. :)