Staying in sync

I’ve found that my MacBook Pro is better as a desktop system, while my MacBook is more pleasant to travel with, so I’ve been looking for a good way to keep them in sync. After trying several sync utilities, I was surprised to find that Windows Live Sync is my favorite.

Windows Live Sync runs continuously in the background and syncs files as soon as they’re changed. In most cases it “just works”, so you can work normally without having to think about it. Live Sync is the only sync utility that’s completely free. It’s limited to 20 directories with 20,000 files in each directory. I haven’t run into any storage space limitations.

ChronoSync with ChronosAgent is a close second. Rather than running continuously and syncing files as they’re changed, it runs at scheduled times (or manually) and does a full sync of everything that changed since the last time it ran. If you’re syncing a large folder such as your home directory, it can take a long time. ChronoSync is great if you want to do a full sync before leaving with your laptop and again when you return.

SugarSync looks promising, but there are a few things I don’t like. It also syncs continuously like Windows Live Sync, plus it lets you access your files from the web. However, the sync application isn’t a background process. You need to actually run their SugarSync Manager application at all times if you want it to sync. Also, the free service is limited to 2GB. Other plans are available from 30GB for $4.99/month through 250GB for $24.99/month.

If you only want to synchronize a single folder, Dropbox is great. Like SugarSync, the free service is limited to 2GB, although more storage is available at extra cost. Since it’s limited to a single folder, it isn’t really a complete synchronization solution.

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