Dropbox Efficiency

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by AzureCloud, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. AzureCloud macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2009
    I am looking at using either iDisk or Dropbox as a cloud storage service. Can anyone tell me if Dropbox significantly impacts notebook battery life and heat production with an aggressive syncing process? Is iDisk lighter on system resources since it is more integrated with the OS? Storage size isn't a concern, and I don't mind paying for iDisk if it is a better option.
  2. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    DropBox only uploads when files in the DropBox folder are changed.

    It should be noted that as with any file uploading service (this applies to iDisk and Dropbox both) that you may not want to save all files to the Dropbox folder.

    Some applications save their files as "bundles." A bundle is effectively a directory with other files inside of it. But to the user that bundle appears as one file. If you were to save some of these bundles to your dropbox or idisk and then edit them directly from that dropbox/idisk folder you have a potential risk of losing data.

    Same goes for saving files to dropbox/idisk and opening them on multiple computers at the same time. It is best to close the applications and files and only use them on one computer at a time, or you risk losing data.

    This is inherent in the design of Bundles. None of the cloud syncing services make this real simple to solve either.

    Basically, I edit files on my machine in the Documents folder. When I need to copy things between computers, i throw it up on Dropbox, then copy it to the other computer's documents folder. Unless it's simply data like a pdf file. Those just stay on dropbox and are good.

    hope this made sense.
  3. jamin100 macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2008

    I have my entire itunes library synced with 2 computers using dropbox and i've never hand any problems..
  4. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    That's because iTunes doesn't use a Bundle for its data storage.

    You could still lose data though. The files will be fine, but you could mess up the library file which stores your playlists and does keep track of what files are in the database. Given certain scenarios you could easily corrupt that database.

    Glad you haven't had any issues yet. But I'd still say you're lucky.
  5. AzureCloud thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2009
    So neither of you notice any slowness/ loss of battery life when running Dropbox? I have read a few posts on Dropbox's forum about high cpu usage when transferring files around the OS (not actually into the Dropbox folder), but I didn't know if it was a widespread issue.
  6. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Dropbox is free, why not play around with it yourself?

    I've never really noticed my processor usage when syncing via iDisk or Dropbox. I can say that for me, Dropbox is leaps and bounds faster than iDisk.
  7. AzureCloud thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2009
    You are right that I should give it a try, but I just wanted to get a feel for any potential issues before I committed myself fully to Dropbox. It seems like the consensus is that Dropbox is much better than iDisk.
  8. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    The "consensus" is that Apple needs to buy Dropbox and replace iDisk with Dropbox.
  9. AzureCloud thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 20, 2009
  10. Kenndac macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2003
    Do you have anything concrete to back up what you just said?

    Bundles aren't effectively folders, they are literally folders with files in. At the filesytem level, there is no difference at all between a bundle and a folder (view a drive with bundles on it in Windows and you'll see what I mean).

    There's nothing more dangerous about using bundles in Dropbox than there is any other kind of file. Of course, if you have the same file open on two machines at once, you're asking for trouble no matter what kind of file you're using. Even then, Dropbox is pretty smart about dealing with collisions.

    On topic: Dropbox is awesome, and very efficient.
  11. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    This won't be a popular solution but I also use Windows Live Mesh. Syncs folders to their cloud and you get 5GB free.
  12. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    This is specific to Scrivener but should give you an idea of what's happening. It isn't just Scrivener, it's any app that uses bundles.

  13. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
  14. FourCandles, Nov 24, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010

    FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Feb 10, 2009
    Just as an contrary example, 1Password recommends Dropbox for synching and places its (your) data in a bundle/package in your Dropbox folder called 1Password.agilekeychain. It works very well too. But possibly there is a difference in how well different developers and/or applications use Dropbox and similar services.
  15. Kenndac macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2003
    Again, nothing specific to bundles there. The issue with Scrivener is that it updates its files so often that *any* online storage system will struggle to upload the files fast enough to keep them in sync. That's not a problem with bundles, it's how that particular program deals with files.

    Again, bundles aren't special - they're just folders. Want proof? Make a folder, give it a name with a .app suffix. The system will suddenly think it's an application! Of course, you can't launch it because it's just a folder.

    A counterpoint to your argument are programs like 1Password. They use bundles, just like Scrivener. However, because 1Password was written in a better way than Scrivener, it works just fine with Dropbox - in fact, Dropbox is the reccommended way to keep 1Password in sync.

    So, to sum up. There is nothing inherintly special about bundles that makes them problematic with online services. Saying that is silly, as they're literally just folders. The problem lies with specific applications and how they deal with files. In fact, applications with large monolithic files are much, much worse with services like Dropbox as the entire file needs to be re-uploaded when the tiniest thing changes.
  16. gks macrumors 6502

    Aug 16, 2010
    Then you've mostly proven my point. That some applications that use bundles for their file format will have issues with Dropbox or any other syncing solution due to the nature of their data system in-app.

    The problem with bundles is simply that due to the design of many applications that use bundles for their file format are likely doing so due to the sheer number of files they need to have to save the data easily. Thus, bundles will inherently have more of an issue with online syncing services.

    Apps like 1Password work well because the saving system only alters a small number of files in the bundle on save. Other apps, which save more data to a larger number of files are likely to have issues.

    Since you keep pointing it out. I know what a bundle is. Having written several mac apps, you learn that one pretty quickly.

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