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Syncing folders automatically between Macs

Posted on 2013-06-23
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Last Modified: 2013-06-24
I have some folders on my MacBook that I'd like to sync automatically with my Mac, in both directions. I had thought about using Dropbox but I'd have to use subfolders of the Dropbox one and I don't want to do this. I had a look at ownCloud but as I have a 1&1 shared server it won't work there.

I looked at SyncMate and it does seem as if this would achieve what I wanted, bidirectional automatic synchronisation of selected folders. However someone has mentioned that on the Mac there is already rsync and that this is the 'gold standard' of synchronisation, and that bidirectional sync is certainly possible with it. I've read the manpages for rsync but they're above my head!

Can someone please suggest how I might set this up to achieve this bidirectional syncing. I'd prefer if possible for the synchronisation to be achieved automatically, as in Dropbox. My two Macs are on the same network, with my iMac connected to my router by cable and my MacBook connected by Wifi.
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Question by:RobbieSnr
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by:Zephyr ICT
ID: 39269526
I'm using BitTorrent sync at the moment http://labs.bittorrent.com/experiments/sync.html

It works flawlessly as long as you have unrestricted Internet acces (if BT is blocked by a firewall it obviously wouldn't work), it's secure encrypted transfer and syncs without having to do a thing. Best of all, it's free.
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by:RobbieSnr
ID: 39269536
Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have a look at it later as I'd really like to use rsync if at all possible in view of what I've heard about it.
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by:Zephyr ICT
Zephyr ICT earned 200 total points
ID: 39269553
Rsync sure is an option, there are gui's available for rsync if that makes you more comfortable. This gui allows for selecting folders: http://arrsync.sourceforge.net/
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serialband earned 300 total points
ID: 39269962
If you want automated syncing, it would be much easier for you to use something like syncmate, if you have no experience with the command line.

To do it with rsync on the command line, you just use the -u (update) option to skip copying the files that are newer on the destination.

You run this on the command line or set it in cron to run automatically.
rsync -auz ~/ Remote_System_Name_or_IP:./
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Author Comment

by:RobbieSnr
ID: 39270830
Many thanks to both spravtek and serialband for their comments. I've now tested both of these and compared the results with the simple example of keeping the desktop in sync and here are my comments:
spravtek said:
Rsync sure is an option, there are gui's available for rsync if that makes you more comfortable. This gui allows for selecting folders: http://arrsync.sourceforge.net/
That's a nice gui but I had a couple of problems with it. If I added a new file to the desktop on the MacBook then it did add this to my iMac. However if I deleted a file there it didn't delete the corresponding file on the iMac but added it back again to the MacBook. I couldn't see where there was an option to correct this. Also it seemed that I had to start off the syncing every time, there didn't seem to be a way of running this automatically in the background.
serialband said:
If you want automated syncing, it would be much easier for you to use something like syncmate, if you have no experience with the command line.

I have used the command line a fair bit but I wanted the syncing to run automatically in the background. Having tried SyncMate again the Expert version allows this automatic syncing, and unlike arRsync if I delete a file on one Mac it deletes it on the other.

I wanted to use rsync because I was told it was the industry standard for syncing, and it was free. However one of my aims was for this syncing to be carried out automatically, and that is where SyncMate Expert, which is not free, scores (unless I'm missing something with arRsync). It could well be that SyncMate is based on rsync so that it is just as efficient but even if it isn't I'm not going to be syncing a lot of files so if it is a bit slower this is not a concern.

I have now tested SyncMate Expert more thoroughly and I'm going to go for this one unless spravtek has any comments to make on this. This may not be everyone's choice, particularly if they want a free version. I'll wait to see if either of you have any comments before allocating the points.
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by:Zephyr ICT
ID: 39270842
Hi RobbieSnr,

If SyncMate works for you then no problem for me ... In the end it's your choice, I don't have anything to bring up against SyncMate, as I said previously, I switched to BT Sync because it gave me a lot of freedom, but then again, I'm only syncing 1 folder... So your mileage may vary.

Glad you found a tool that works for you.

Good luck!
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Author Comment

by:RobbieSnr
ID: 39270873
Hi spravtek

I did have a look at BitTorrent. Unlike you I want to sync several different folders and I didn't like the fact that it seemed that these would all have to be in a shared folder for them to be synced, like Dropbox.
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by:Zephyr ICT
ID: 39270880
Unlike you I want to sync several different folders and I didn't like the fact that it seemed that these would all have to be in a shared folder for them to be synced, like Dropbox.

I'm not quite sure I'm with you on that one... What do you mean with shared folder?

If you open the interface of the BT Sync tool, you can just add individual folders, each of these folders has their own "secret" used for encryption.

But maybe I misunderstood what you meant :-)
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Author Comment

by:RobbieSnr
ID: 39270927
Hi spravtek

I didn't try out BT and I see I've not looked at the description of how it works closely enough. There was one point where it mentioned "the" shared folder and I assumed, incorrectly, that everything to be shared had to be put in that one folder.

Thanks for pointing out my error!
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by:Zephyr ICT
ID: 39271029
No problem ... We're all here to help and learn :-)
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