iDisk or Dropbox? Do either make it easy to keep MBP and iMac in sync?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Fantasy Guy, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. Fantasy Guy macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2010
    I want to buy an iMac to have an 'office' plus use my MBP when out and about.

    As an example, I want to sit in my home office and prepare a meeting. Go to the meeting, pull out my MBP and update the documents with notes then, once home again, amend the document on my iMac.

    As it is, I'd need to keep emailing it to myself. But is there an easier way to just select my Documents folder on each Mac and have something just keep them in sync (without needed a separate 'sync' folder)?
  2. BMJT macrumors regular

    Jun 6, 2009
    Bristol, UK

    Dropbox gets my vote, really quick and easy syncing between macs. I have my iMac and MBP in perfect sync. On the MBP I purely work out of the Dropbox folder so everything is up to date and backed up in the cloud.
  3. FourCandles macrumors 6502a

    Feb 10, 2009
    Another vote for Dropbox. I used iDisk for a few years, found it increasingly unreliable and frustrating to sync, started using Dropbox about a year ago and have now ditched iDisk.

    But, Dropbox is free and there's a free MobileMe trial, so you can compare both.
  4. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I use both, and for syncing files, and/or storing files. DropBox beats iDisk hands down. Not because you get 2gig free with DropBox and iDisk will cost you a c-note but rather, the speed, integration into the OS (windows, OSX, Linux) and ease of use.

    My files are synced without any work on my part and its done very efficiently.
  5. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2010
    Is there a kind of 'low maintenance' option? I'd love to have an app installed on both my MBP and my iMac where I can continue to save documents in the folders I want to save them but then tell the sync app to keep them in sync.

    Kind of the way that you tell Time Machine to not back-up certain folders.
  6. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
    Dropbox wins. It happily works away, not making any fuss.
  7. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    Dropbox requires the files be in a specific folder, but as long as you do that it works fine.
  8. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    You really need to try them both... I think your questions will be answered best that way.

    I use both. Advantages for iDisk is that you get more room to work with. But it's not free. Though iDisk does more things.... so if you get iDisk for the other features, then it may be worth it.

    iDisk can also keep iCal synched (so both your desktop and mobile systems show the same calendars) as well as your Safari bookmarks. Add a bookmark to Safari on your mobile and it will appear on desktop system (of course these options and others are optional). However, I do sometimes run into synching issues with documents. This only happens when I am working on a document on both systems, and/or open the document on the 2nd system before the 1st system has had a chance to fully upload to the iDisk servers. I only keep a sub-set of documents synched through iDisk.

    I use iDisk for the bulk of my synching needs, personally. Dropbox I use to synch with others because it is really easy for friends/family/colleagues to set up an account. Also, every person who sets up a Dropbox account through your invitation adds some space to your account. Dropbox seems to work a little more smoothly than iDisk, but I don't use Dropbox as much as iDisk. So far I have encountered no issues with it.

    Both packages work by copying documents to a server and holding it there. You can choose to treat iDisk as an external HD. Documents are held there, but not on your local HD. Local applications can access, save, etc the documents on iDisk... however, there are two caveats. One is that uploading a changed document can take time, and the whole system can bog down while doing so. Big documents can take 5, 10 seconds or more depending on size and internet connections. And the 2nd caveat is that iDisk in this setup is only available when you have an internet connection. I have my desktop set like this, and put up with the delays because it saves on local HD space. I may change this soon... I have lots of HD space.

    The second way to set iDisk is to have a local copy of iDisk on your HD. I have the laptop set this way. You access the iDisk folders as if they are local folders (well, they are - I guess) so speed is not an issue. The local folders are then copied to the iDisk servers when you have an internet connection. So... if you don't have an internet connection you still have all of your iDisk content handy and available. Soon as you reconnect the iDisk servers are updated, and then those changes are sent down to whatever other computers you have synched.

    I'm pretty sure that Dropbox works like this second iDisk scenario. Local copy, and then changes copied to their servers.

    One of the things I like about Dropbox is the ability to share just one folder with someone. In the Dropbox model this other person (or persons) can set up this folder on their system - as a folder or directory depending on their OS choice - and access it as a local folder. Changes made by one person are propagated to everyone else's folder as well. Works really well as a collaboration tool.

    iDisk folders (whether local or external) are accessed through the iDisk icon found in the 'Devices' area of the Finder. You can set up a folder structure there to suit your needs (though at least once upon a time it was better to put all your document folders within the iDisk 'Document' folder.... I forget why now. Once you have set up your folders within iDisk you can drag them to your own folders as shortcuts, or put them into the Finder sidebar.

    Dropbox, iirc, puts a 'Dropbox' folder on your system, which you can place where you want (perhaps there are some restrictions?). You then create a folder structure within it to suit your needs.

    Hope this helps......
  9. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Save a document in the DropBox folder, it gets synced to all computers that you have DropBox on.
  10. Fantasy Guy thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2010
    Thanks shiftaw - this sounds exactly like what I'm looking for! Do you actually use it? Is it good?
  11. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    Can't recommend dropbox enough, also have iDisk but dropbox is much more reliable! Try it you won't regret it!
  12. sunnychotai macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2010
    1. iDisk is native - it just works... but when you local synch it doesn't store the files as files - it stores them inside a sparsebundle (so all the files are inside this one large image file). Time Machine doesn't handle this very well as it does not incrementally add to this - it creates another copy - very very inefficient.

    2. iDisk is slow - very very slow. (like shockingly slow)... especially first time backups.

    3. iDisk is native and if you have non critical files (just a few to throw up there) then it is fine.

    4. DropBox - never used, but have heard good things about it (e.g. speed).

Share This Page