Insert ‘syncing feeling’ joke here

After my team of banished Keebler elves finished assembling my Hackintosh (for which I took credit in my three previous posts), two issues quickly became apparent. First, fudge striping does a poor job as a thermal conductor. Second, now that I was spending a lot of time on two different computers, I needed a syncing solution.

The two computers in question were, hopefully obviously, the Hackintosh and my office computer—a current gen 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.8GHz with 4GB RAM and the matte screen option. Why, you may ask if you’re nosy in a Chatroulette kind of way (that is: creepy), do I need to sync these machines when one is neither owned by me nor tethered to a single location? A few reasons. First, I’d like to keep my iTunes libraries synced. Second, I like keeping certain files on my office MBP as yet another backup. Since we don’t have draconian IT policies (or even a full-time IT guy) at my office, I’m not especially worried about data theft. Third, syncing my work files with my home computer means I don’t always have to haul the MBP home. Fourth, when my inevitable firing comes, I won’t have to copy any work from my MBP (as an ad wonk, I’m entitled to my work for portfolio reasons).

Of course, there are several ways I could go about syncing everything betwixt the machines. I could just copy files back and forth each night using file sharing. I could use file sharing simply to open files on my home computer at work and vice versa, which really isn’t syncing, but would conceivably work assuming I always have a connection that doesn’t close off the appropriate ports. Which I don’t trust. I could, and have, used my iDisk to store certain files that I use regularly. I could even use a program like ChronoSync to schedule syncs, but it costs 40 bucks and I’m cheap. Plus, like everything else mentioned (and many solutions that haven’t been), it’s only semi-automatic at best. Great for my handguns, less satisfying for my deep syncing needs.

And before someone mentions MobileMe and Back to My Mac, don’t. I have MobileMe. It serves its intended purpose in my life. And, thanks to eBay, I always pay much less for a yearly subscription than I would going through Apple. Back to My Mac works just dandy for what it is (after much wrasslin’ with port forwarding, that is), but what it is is not a syncing utility.

So, given the lack of built-in syncing, free syncing software, or other decent Mac-based solutions, I did something heretical: I turned to the Gods of Zune and discovered Windows Live Syncing. Windows Live Syncing is not new, having started life as FolderShare from BiteTaxi before being acquired by the Empire in 2005. An OS X 10.6 version was released on November 2, 2009. Which I failed to notice as I was busy that day encouraging my wife to shove a live human out of her body. She succeeded.

Windows Live Sync is, in and of itself, remarkably easy to use. You download the software to the appropriate computers, select the folders you wish to sync, then sit back with a box of Milk Duds and watch the bits fly. Every time you change a file within a synced folder, it gets copied to the other computers, assuming they are online. For example, every time I save this MacHole document, which I’m writing on my MBP, it gets copied to the Hackintosh. Nice.

Of course, getting your computers online may prove to be a bit difficult. At home, I spent a couple of hours fiddling with port settings on my Airport Extreme!!!! Base Station to get everything copacetic. It didn’t help that the documentation for both Live Sync and—in typical Apple fashion—my AEBS was wafer thin. Luckily, I had already dealt with some port forwarding issues when configuring LogMeIn, so I wasn’t completely in the dark. At the office, I was fortunate again in that our IT infrastructure is relatively sieve-like and no bribing of the freelance IT guy with a case of PBR was required.

After a week of use, I am quite impressed. A couple of files—including my MacHole master document—have failed to sync a time or two for reasons I’ve yet to discover, but everything else has been very transparent. And my Trash hasn’t mysteriously turned into a Recycle Bin, either, so that’s a plus.

Also, while Windows Live Sync won’t exactly get me to buy the assumedly (new word, use it this week) forthcoming ZunePad 3D, it does double the number of Microsoft products I actually like. The other being the Xbox 360 Non Red Ring of Death Edition.

Unfortunately for my most ardent supporter, successful installations yield less snark. My apologies, MacSpanker71, but I’m sure I’ll see you later on The Roulette.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • nightmorph
    • 10 years ago

    A possible solution for the documents; the non-iTunes stuff:

    It’s definitely not as automated as some of the other solutions out there, but you could setup your own private git server. Or similar private VCS. You have the added benefit of encrypting every transfer via SSH, too. GitHub offers completely private git repositories for a small cost; public repos are free.

    Plus: you get proper versioning, so that if you ever screw something up by accidentally syncing an older version over a newer version, you can undo it. Rollbacks are easy. (The son of an author I know accidentally backed up/synced his dad’s older stuff over the newest, losing a month’s worth of writing.)

    Plus: your stuff is now available for all your computers (long as it has your SSH key), not just the Macs.

    Minus: prolly doesn’t meet your laziness threshold.

    • ludi
    • 10 years ago

    Grr mispost

    • Skrying
    • 10 years ago

    Microsoft’s entire “syncing” and “cloud storage” lineup needs to be merged or cleaned up at the least. It’s a pain to even think about keeping or using Live Sync or Live Mesh and then Skydrive. All with different storage pools and different setups.

    The Live suite is really quite great. Microsoft should push it much more and clean it up a little. Killer bundle of some of their best apps.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    did you consider dropbox? i friggin love it. plus the opening video is a guy named josh going to africa, which is exactly me 🙂

      • tu2thepoo
      • 10 years ago

      I agree, for smaller jobs. I can’t imagine someone syncing an Itunes library with dropbox, though. Even though they added sync-over-LAN with the newest version, you’d need to pony up for a paid account to sync an entire computer’s worth of files (nevermind having to upload to the account… which I’m especially sensitive to because our rural cable provider caps us at 256k/512kbps upload depending on how generous they feel each month).

      However, it does a bang-up job of syncing across my mac/windows/VMs without having to mess with any port forwarding business.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      The problems is that with Dropbox (at least by default) everything goes into one folder. You’ve really got to fool around with hardlinks if you want stuff to go into special locations.

        • cheesyking
        • 10 years ago

        soft links also work and they’re a lot less dangerous!

        Plus, how long does it take to setup a few links? You can always script it if your feeling really lazy.

          • derFunkenstein
          • 10 years ago

          what do you mean by soft links? On OS X it’s easy; drag an alias of a folder and put it in teh Dropbox folder and you’re set. On Windows, making a shortcut = no go.

    • axeman
    • 10 years ago

    What about something like rsyncx or arsync? I’ve never used it, but seeing as you’re one of the cool kids, you should look into leveraging the *nix underpinnings of OS X whenever possible. 😉

      • Jason_Fox
      • 10 years ago

      I considered rsync, but it didn’t meet my laziness threshold.

    • ApockofFork
    • 10 years ago

    Windows live sync is one of the best pieces of software microsoft puts out but they refuse to update it. I am stuck using live mesh which in theory does the same thing (but much less efficiently) because it doesn’t have a limit of 20,000 files in a folder (I like to sync my entire my documents which is huge at this point). Sync will only sync the parts of the file that has changed so you don’t end up sending an entire 100 mb powerpoint presentation when you only fixed a word in it. I’m really looking forward to their windows live wave 4 release. Hopefully it will merge the good parts of mesh, sync, and skydrive all into one and get rid of the cruft and bugs.

      • ludi
      • 10 years ago

      So would that put you 20,000 Docs Under the Synch?

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 10 years ago

        LOL! Nice!

    • SNM
    • 10 years ago

    How does this do with your iTunes install? I’ve never found a solution that will work too well for that given the huge database file.

    Though I suppose it helps to be syncing on one OS instead of trying to get your Macbook and Win7 PC to play nice together. :/

      • derFunkenstein
      • 10 years ago

      The database files on Windows and OS X at least previously had different names (not sure about that current state) so you’d end up with both of them side-by-side.

        • SNM
        • 10 years ago

        Yeah, I’ve pretty much given up — they probably aren’t the same format and my music lives in different places. But I can at least use the “restore from XML” feature to retain ratings and stuff when I move computers.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 10 years ago

      Besides, I thought iTunes had it’s own syncing utility within it called “Home” or something. At least I remember transferring/syncing my library from my macbook to TR’s Lucky over the network using just iTunes…

        • SNM
        • 10 years ago

        You can transfer files, but I’m not sure it even transfers ratings and it definitely doesn’t do an ongoing sync with play counts or changed ratings or anything.

        Still, Home was a great advancement over the “surely you won’t use more than one computer!” attitude iTunes had before.

          • Jason_Fox
          • 10 years ago

          Since I don’t pay attention to my ratings or play counts, that stuff isn’t an issue for me. I haven’t noticed any jankiness yet — stuff I bought at work was on my home machine, including the new playlist — but I’ve yet to sync my iPhone doing all of this, so we’ll see if anything untoward occurs when I do that.

          • ssidbroadcast
          • 10 years ago

          Actually, “Home” /[

            • SNM
            • 10 years ago

            Well, that’s nice then, but as I said there’s no ongoing syncing, which is what I’d really like it to do.

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