How do YOU manage a laptop as a 2nd computer?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by gnortenjones, Jan 4, 2012.

  1. gnortenjones macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    #1
    I've decided to make a career change, and return to school. Since the first couple of semesters are going to be pretty intensely scheduled, I've decided to get a Macbook pro/air (haven't decided), to use while at the college since I likely won't be home very much to use my iMac for schoolwork, which of course has my entire music collection, videos, etc.

    This will be the first time I've had two computers to worry about that weren't work related (thus not having to worry about music collections etc).

    My question is this: For those of you who have a laptop as a second computer, how do YOU manage things like music libraries, videos, docs, etc? Do you try to copy the iTunes libraries over to the macbook, and keep them synched somehow? Or not even bother, and just keep them separate?

    Just looking for opinions on the best way to handle this.

    Thanks.
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #2
    I use DropBox and its 2 GB free online storage system to synch documents I want synched, and as I have external HDDs I don't really care, where my music or other entertainment files are, as I can just connect the correct HDD to the Mac I want to use (I have an iMac and an MBP) and from there I go.
    I also sometimes just copy files via the network from one Mac to the other, if I am too lazy to disconnect the HDD.

    Btw, my iMac has a 60 GB SSD, thus the need for external HDDs (and I am accustomed to it), and the MBP has a 120 GB SSD and a 500 GB HDD in it.
     
  3. mstrze macrumors 68000

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    Nov 6, 2009
    #3
    My wife's laptop just shares my iPhoto and iTunes libraries through Home sharing. There is no need to copy everything from the main computer. As for documents, when we share then, we either transfer them within our public folders, or store then on a drive that we have attached to our Airport Extreme...one that we both can read and write to.
     
  4. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Location:
    Poole, England
    #4
    The most technical, yet the simplest and most elegant, solution would be to use the command line rsync.

    I normally don't bother though. My home computer has a lot more stuff than my MBA can handle. I use dropbox for important documents and I simply copy any movies or series that I want from the mini server to the MBA. As for music, my mini server has my lossless collection and managing this used to be a headache since I needed to carry an external or encode them into smaller compressed AC3 files and manage two iTunes libraries. Now I just use iTunesMatch.

    My mini still has my lossless collection and I can listen to that when I am at home, but when I am away there is no need for that so I just pull down the tunes I want to my MBA using the magical cloud. It works well, except that my album artwork is missing on the MBA and I am very, ummm, particular about this sort of stuff so it upsets me. I need to figure out why this is happening. Just for fun games on the iPhone it's different - some of my album artwork is there and some isn't. Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent.
     
  5. Angelo95210 macrumors 6502a

    Angelo95210

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    Paris, France
    #5
    I have everything in the cloud with Dropbox, Spotify, Vimeo and Flickr.
     
  6. johnhurley macrumors 6502a

    johnhurley

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    Aug 29, 2011
    #6
    Lots of different approaches are possible. Seriously though good luck going back to school ( my MBA 2nd degree is a long way back in time ) but I have to think that managing your docs should be a much higher priority than music and videos etc.

    First thing is to make sure you figure out what machine is your primary machine and have a solid and tested backup and recovery plan for that system. Personally for me my primary machine is now my macbook air 2011 256 gb ssd but it works hand in hand with multiple different external hard drives at both work and home.

    I for one am not going to leap into the cloud thing ... I want to always have available my storage and backups and not depend on any internet provider and/or company.

    However for school purposes I would think that dropbox and a 2 gb free account might work pretty darn well accompanied perhaps by a reasonable size usb flash drive. I personally would keep master copies on my primary machine and periodically copy them to a usb flash drive and/or dropbox location.

    I would not personally use dropbox as the master location ... what happens when you need to work on something and you cannot get an internet connection for some reason.

    For music/videos again figure out what is your primary machine for that stuff ... it might be a different machine possibly than your primary machine for college. If different again figure out what your backup and recovery plan is.

    My macbook air does carry along my music collection ... about 32 gb I think ... but that is a choice that could reversed at a future time and yeah copying off the whole iTunes directory/folder between mac os x and windows systems is pretty doable as long as one is careful and tests each step along the way.
     
  7. jlc1978 macrumors 68000

    jlc1978

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2009
    #7
    I use Sync Pro by Decimus Software. I sync all my work files to an external flash drive and can then carry them from machine to machine with no issues. Sync pro automatically keeps all in sync. It can do 1 to N syncs - so multiple machines and drives can all stay in sync; it archives deleted and revised files (if you want) so if you screw up a file or accidentally delete it the archive is available. I also does live sync - anytime you save a file it syncs. Very fast, flexible and reliable. You can setup multiple sync rules as well. It also does bootable backups. Only thing it doesn't do is save revisions while you work on a file.

    They also offer educational discounts that are significant.

    Also, I'd look at Forever Save - you can set it up to automatically save files as you revise them - so you have a backup incase you accidentally screw up a file while working on it. When I used a PC iomega had a similar product foof rteh PC and it was a lifesaver - if you screwed up and didn't save a file before you exited a program or your PC crashed you had at least a backup that wasn't all that old.

    Sync Pro - http://decimus.net
    Forever Save - http://www.tool-forcesw.com/foreversave/
     
  8. iforbes macrumors 6502

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    Dec 21, 2011
    #8
    Congrats! What was the old career and what are you changing to? What school? Will this Mac be used for school work as well, or just entertainment purposes?
     
  9. theSeb macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Poole, England
    #9
    The files are available whether you have an internet connection or not and whether dropbox is running or not. They are stored as physical copies in a folder on your hard drive and it's always accessible.
     
  10. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

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    Dec 21, 2011
    #10
    I'll state the obvious:

    If all you use your desktop unit for is entertainment, perhaps you could actually replace it with the laptop/external monitor. Keeps all your files in one place.
     
  11. dawiyo macrumors member

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Alexandria, VA
    #11
    I sync all my files to my NAS (Synology DS-211). It's good for back-up purposes, i.e. Time Machine, as well as escaping the storage limitations of a SSD. From there, I can have a shared iTunes library.
     
  12. Adamantoise macrumors 6502a

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    Aug 1, 2011
    #12
    I just copy them over when I can.

    When I was younger, I used to be anal about my music and movies being up to date and all that. Now I have much more important things to worry about.

    If it is critical for you, I would invest in some sort of network storage device.
     
  13. FuNGi macrumors 65816

    FuNGi

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    Feb 26, 2010
    Location:
    California
    #13
    Dropbox (2Gb free) and Sugarsync (5Gb free) both sync through the cloud to your computers. I suggest dragging your working folders into just one Dropbox (or MagicBriefCase via Sugarsync). That way every time you open a file and save it it will sync with the cloud. It is true that when you open your MBA later you must have internet access so that the cloud will update your local copies. This is usually not a problem. (I actually use both simultaneously).

    All other solutions require extra steps. Plugging in externals or flash drives then syncing. You must remember whats updated etc. Cloud syncing is the most convenient.

    As for music, I just move some music over to my MBA on my home network with home sharing in iTunes. iCloud permits re-downloading TV shows etc.
     
  14. jlc1978 macrumors 68000

    jlc1978

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    Aug 14, 2009
    #14
    Sync pro doesn't require that - it will sync quite nicely over a network. In fact, you can sync Computer A <-> Computer B <-> External Drive concurrently. if you pull the external it simply stops and picks back up when it's reattached; if you leave the network it does the same thing. o need to remember what is synched. If the same file is edited in two places it flags the conflict and lets you decide what to do.

    It's biggest advantage is you are not dependent on cloud services or internet accessibility. It's a great program and for $10 academic pricing a real bargain.
     
  15. FuNGi macrumors 65816

    FuNGi

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    California
    #15
    ^^But you still must be on the same network. With cloud syncing you don't have to turn on your laptop until you get where you are going....
     
  16. rev.b macrumors regular

    rev.b

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  17. gnortenjones thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jan 16, 2008
    #17
    Wow, lots of responses, and solutions. Thanks everyone.

    For those of you who asked, I'm going back to school for accounting.

    My original undergrad degree is in Psychology (I'm a case study in why 18 year olds shouldn't be allowed to pick their own major), but over the last 10 years I've have a variety of IT, and financial related positions, and always found the financial jobs more interesting than IT, which regardless of the position always seemed to amount to glorified tech support.

    I got laid off 2 months ago, and after finding my IT skills a bit outdated, and pushing 40 years old, I decided to turn lemons into lemonade, and go into something I'm more interested in, and a career path that's a bit more stable than IT.

    It shows how boring a person I am that my midlife crisis involves becoming an accountant.

    Truth be told, I probably don't NEED the laptop. I could probably get by on the schoolwork with nothing more than a USB stick and the schools computer labs, but my memory of the school labs is not a great one, and if given the choice, would rather have my own dedicated laptop so I could do the schoolwork elsewhere.
     
  18. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    Jul 13, 2008
    #18
    One solution that I don't think was mentioned is to use the iMac as a kind of server, assuming you can have it available online. It would then work as your own cloud, if you will. I use ShareTool and the built-in Mac tools to access my more entertainment oriented stuff from home, like iTunes, iPhoto, EyeTV, etc. Very secure and easy to use.

    Rob
     
  19. driftless, Jan 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2012

    driftless macrumors demi-god

    driftless

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    Sep 2, 2011
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    Chicago-area
    #19
    iTunes & iCloud for the iTunes media, email, addresses, calendars, etc., and Dropbox for everything else.
     
  20. Freyqq, Jan 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2012

    Freyqq macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2004
    #20
    you can sync bookmarks with firefox sync or xmarks. I keep everything school related on the laptop and access school stuff at home on the desktop from the laptop over wifi (802.11n). I also back up the laptop with an external hard drive with time machine every day just in case something happens to it.

    Dropbox, etc would work too, but I like having my files local.

    ----------

    definitely a good idea. Also, around finals time, you would probably have a lot of trouble finding an open computer.
     
  21. kvnkvnkvn macrumors member

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #21
    I use Dropbox, Windows Live Mesh and Box to sync things to the cloud and to the actual notebook. I do not rely solely on the cloud anymore after one time I needed a file and the network at school was down. I went to school in a foreign country for one year and thought having things in the cloud would work big mistake.


    Music, Video I just sync everything between all my computers I dont deal with cloud at all. You might not be able to do this dont know the storage space on your devices.

    Documents, Photos (less than 5 MB) i sync to cloud and store on the notebook.
     
  22. jlc1978 macrumors 68000

    jlc1978

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    Aug 14, 2009
    #22
    Cloud synching is nice, but:

    1) You have to have internet access or else you can't access files
    2) It can be very slow for large files
    3) It generally doesn't do live synching, instead it is down on a scheduled basis
    4) Free storage is very limited

    I haven't tried synching using Sync Pro form a remote location via a network connection to my Mac; but form the way I read the documentation that may be possible.

    OTOH, cloud storage results in an offsite storage with backup.

    Personally, I think both are useful - cloud for backup and live sync for day to day use. Even if you only use a flash drive at least you have a reliable backup and way to easily transfer files and work with them with a live sync solution.
     
  23. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #23
    Before you delve into cloud storage and synching and whatnot, you need to ask yourself this question:

    How many files are you REALLY going to be transferring between computers?

    Most of your schoolwork will stay on the laptop. Even when you are at home, you are going to be using that instead of the desktop to do your work. Also, this eliminates the possibility of leaving a file stranded at the desktop in case something goes wrong. When at home, you can access all the music, movies and photos through Home Sharing. If you absolutely NEED to share a file, you can do it over the network or use a flash drive, but the amount of times my wife and I have needed to share files can be counted on one hand for the last 3 years.

    Your laptop will be a full-fledged computer, think of it that way and use it that way. You should hardly, if ever have to use the desktop again with all of your files and apps on YOUR computer. :)
     
  24. FuNGi macrumors 65816

    FuNGi

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    California
    #24
    ^^Both the options I mentioned do live syncing. The second you 'save' your word document, for instance, the second it starts uploading to the cloud server. Then when home, on your big-ass iMac, it will begin downloading as soon as you are online. Most universities now have wireless so you needn't worry about being online. If away from internet on your laptop for awhile then the upload time will be longer - but for documents and pdf's that is not a long time.

    I also have my Endnote library and Papers pdf library in my Dropbox folder. That way when I download papers at work the will be updated at home etc. I would not use Dropbox or Sugarsync for photo's, music, video's etc. Just work files that move quickly and are small.

    ^^I agree on limiting cloud file syncing to just work stuff. Keep media transfer through home sharing or USB/hard drives etc. However your laptop need not be your full-fledged computer, especially if you opt for a low-storage MBA, which would be my suggestion.
     
  25. jlc1978 macrumors 68000

    jlc1978

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    Aug 14, 2009
    #25
    That, IMHO, is the major limitation to cloud sync - transfer times. It works great if you have small files, reliable internet access, and sufficient storage.

    The advantages I see to products such as Sync Pro is that you always have the option available, it's easy to transfer files to any machine by simply plugging in a flash drive, and you can sync large files easily as well.

    It all comes down to a matter of what you prefer; and we probably have totally confused the OP.
     

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