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Geek Throwdown: How to sync two or more Macs?

Enter the Octagon

Here’s an experimental new feature: The Throwdown. Take a problem that lots of people face and tell us your personal favorite way to deal with it — in as much detail and with as much persuasion as you can muster.

Today, a lot of us are living on two or more Macs -- which is great, except for the challenge of keeping the contents and settings of multiple machines effortlessly in sync.

Now before you pop in, holler "dot mac," and jump back on your Segway®, consider that many folks (including your author) are looking for a lot more than simple document syncing and perfunctory preference sharing. How about if your needs are more nuanced:

  • Can it intelligently sync "~/Library" stuff like "Preferences" and "Application Support" for your apps (so that Quicksilver, for example, is with you and tweaked to perfection wherever you go)? Is it smart enough to know which items not to sync?
  • Can it do smarter comparisons than "which one is newer?" -- consider that someone on 4 or 5 Macs may run into complex versioning problems that currently make .Mac very confused. For text, can it do diff3-style merging?
  • Will it update often enough (and automatically enough) that I can trust when I sit down at a new machine, I'll know everything's up to date without checking (or manual re-updating)?
  • Can backups be easily automated? And is it easy to restore across all machines?
  • Does it work for people on airplanes? If your solution requires a live internet connection for active usage (e.g. traditional WebDAV), what happens when that access is no longer available?

You get the idea. You have a system; now tell us about it. Bow to your sensei, then spare no detail.

How do you sync your Macs?

rsync? ChronoSync? Synchronize? Unison? Something you made yourself?

What are using to sync your Macs, and how are you using it?

schismet's picture

Timbuktu, ChronoSync, Fusemail and .Mac

I like Timbuktu for "SymSyncing". As long as I have a connection I just use my PowerMac in a window on my PowerBook. When I am at the office I reverse this by opening my PB in a window on my PM and only need one keyboard and mouse to control both. This distrubutes horsepower across two machines. If I need a third machine, the MacMini that is used as an entertainment server in the living room, can be brought online.

I have all my work in a directory that I keep in Users/Shared and keep synced with ChronoSync across all machines. Since I have at least two user accounts on each system this gives me access to my work no matter which user account I need.

As far as mail goes www.fusemail.com is my mail host. It "fuses" all my mail into one account accessable via IMAP and webmail. I add one account to any mail client that I use such as on my Treo or Entourage. The .Mac account handles little stuff like Keychains and NetNewsWire.




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