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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?

Bear_B's picture

Back to My Mac?

I'm wondering whether any .Mac member has tried leveraging Leopard's new "Back to My Mac" feature for mirroring two Macs?

I now use Foldershare and am very happy with it, but I'm moving to a new job where access is more of an issue, and I'll be working with Intel Macs for the first time (and rumor has it that Foldershare doesn't work on Intel Macs -- which wouldn't surprise me, as I've seen basically zero development since Microsoft bought them, which is a shame 'cuz it's the coolest program ever, but I digress.)

BtMM provides access to files on your other Macs across the internet, even if they're behind firewalls: apparently they phone home to .Mac to set up P2P connections, and once they do, you can browse their file structures in the Finder. So it occurs to me to wonder whether the "Back to My Mac" feature couldn't be used, in conjunction with a simple local mirroring program (Unison? Or even a program that checks automatically and doesn't have to be run?) to keep my always-on desktop in sync with my laptop.

I'll have the Intel Macs and the copy of Leopard within a week or so to try this myself, but I thought I'd toss it out there in case anyone else could report on how well or poorly it works.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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