Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How to keep files synced between two computers

My old solution to syncing files was cvs.

My new solution is Dropbox. Dropbox integrates perfectly with the Finder on OS X, working through a folder (called "Dropbox"), the contents of which are automatically synced with a central server whenever there is a change in the file contents (whether on the local computer or a remote computer). File and folder icons are modified with a tiny symbol which indicates the synced/syncing status of the file.

The downside is that when one computer is offline and a file is changed on both computers, Dropbox handles the changes less well than cvs. (cvs merges the changes intelligently and flags in the file where user assistance is needed with the merging. Dropbox just saves the conflicting version to a separate file.) I did recently find that syncing had stopped, but upgrading to a newer version of the Dropbox application solved that problem.

Also, files are available through a web interface and old versions can be easily obtained. It works with all major operating systems. The first 2 gigabytes are free. It is elegant and makes my life easier. I give it high marks (to be updated once I figure out how many teabags are in my rating system).

Dropbox currently has a referral program where, if you register through this referral link, both you and I will get an extra 250 megabytes.

Bonus link: How to install a console version of Dropbox (no GUI!) on Linux (thanks to Jared of the Mostly CLI blog)

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