Automatically syncing Home/Work hard drives???

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ftaok, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I had a thought while reading through the "Desktop era over ...." thread.

    One of the things that has always bothered me with having two computers was syncing files between them. You'd end up with a situation where you'd be at home and realize that your latest version of the file is at work. Big PITA.

    The solution has been to use a cloud service like Dropbox or something. This works fine for many situations, but you're still working off the cloud. And some folks have sensitive files that they might not trust to a cloud server.

    Enter my idea (possibly half baked). You would have an external HDD at each location you choose. Simple example would be one at home and one at work. The drive connects to your local computer using USB/eSATA/FW, but it's also connected to the internet via ethernet/wifi.

    The idea is that you'd come home and plug in your laptop to the drive and access a file. Whenever your save something, the HDD sends that file out over the internet to all your other drives automatically. The file structure would be the same on both HDDs. Everything happens in the background. Potentially, the system would have built-in incremental back-ups and such.

    When you get to work the next morning, the work HDD has the correct/latest files already there.

    Does something like this already exist? Perhaps some sort of file server or something. Or am I onto something?

  2. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    I'd go with the server model.

    Macs already have server capabilities built in; file sharing has existed forever.

    And many of us have used this in lieu of cloud storage for a long time. A machine, call it Work, houses your files. It's backed up via your preferred choice of software/hardware. You drift about with your laptop, and any time you want to work on a Work file you simply double-click on the Work hard drive, open the file, and work on it. It gets saved back to the same place. No need for an external on the laptop. No need to copy the file there (laptops being even more insecure than the cloud). Easy peasy.

    If you do need to copy that Work file to your laptop, cuz perhaps you don't have a connection, you do so and work on it. Next chance you get you copy it back to the Work computer, and either overwrite the existing file (to make sure you have the most up-to-date version, or do a Save As... so you have both.

    Your description sounds like you'd want something more like iCloud, which pushes changes. Not all of us want that, and again you've got cloud issues. One place has to be what is called the Truth, the version that others conform to. If you want automatic syncing like that your best bet is the cloud. I realize there are security issues, but there are with unattended home computers as well.
  3. ftaok thread starter macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    I guess what you're saying makes sense. But I think there are some scenarios where a File Server doesn't work (or at least work easily). Many times, I'll need to work on a file, and it's a large file. I don't want to have to edit that file over a network connection, so I like to have it local (or at least through an external).

    The syncing over the internet would be seamless and invisible from the user. You just edit the file on the drive that you're attached to and the update gets transferred over to the mirrored drive sitting at work. Then when you get to your office, the correct file is sitting there for you to use.

    Having to deal with the master file on a server requires the user to manually maintain a workflow to ensure that the latest edits get back to the server. I guess I have no discipline in keeping a workflow like this going (personal flaw of mine).

    Anyways, perhaps the real answer is to use the cloud. I may just have to get over my hangup of trusting my info on someone else's server.

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