First, the apology
I apologize for the anal-retentive quality of this post, but c’est la vie…I need to do it.
I was shocked when I tried the new 11" Macbook Air at the Apple Store recently. Who would believe it was that fast given the (lousy) specs? Since my everyday laptop is hooked up to a 27" display and various external drives and a keyboard, I need something to roll n’ roll with easily. The Macbook Air beats any Windows netbook performance hands down; it’s a little wonder.
That said. I obey the Amber edict (here) not to keep my Scriv files on Dropbox; they’re local to my Laptop. I do, as Amber suggested, keep zipped backup files on Dropbox, as well as all the research files for my book. I save my Scriv files religiously to Dropbox.
My question involves my proposed workflow with the Macbook Air (when traveling) and the Laptop. This is what I am planning on doing. Someone, please tell me if this is wrong.
Keep original Scriv files on Laptop as they are currently, with zipped backup on Dropbox.
Restore the latest Dropbox backup to the Macbook Air, and work on files there.
Save Scriv files locally to Macbook Air, or back to Dropbox if I have an Internet connection. If I don’t have the latter, save the Macbook Air files to Dropbox once I’m back at the Laptop.
Restore the latest backup to Laptop from Dropbox as a working file.
In other words, can I trust my Dropbox backup to make this triangulating file movement on a regular basis?
Yes, this should work fine. Use “Backup To” or automatic backups to make a zipped backup to Dropbox, and then when you move to another machine take the latest zipped file in Dropbox, unpack it, and replace the version on your laptop with that one so that you are always running from the latest version of the project.
That said, I use a MacBook Air as my portable machine and a Mac Pro as my main machine, and I just open my files directly from Dropbox. Generally there isn’t a problem, but we have to recommend against it just so that if there are problems - which are always possible with syncing solutions - we have given the best advice we can to avoid them. But an alternative is to do the opposite:
• Open the .scriv file directly from Dropbox on both machines.
• Set up automatic backup so that it makes a zipped backup on open or close (or both) to the local system somewhere.
That way, if Dropbox does mess anything up, you will have a recent backup available on your system, you’ll have backups on both systems, and you don’t have to risk swapping files around. Obviously it’s “at your own risk” etc, but this is how I do things because the risk is relatively small and it keeps things simple.
I like the ‘keep things simple’ part, and reducing the file swapping risk. The latter is my real concern: keeping it all straight, and since I save repeatedly while I’m working, adding save on Open in addition to the current Close should do it.
I used Dropbox until it completely destroyed a .scriv bundle. (This was back in the 1.x days…) Now I use Sugarsync and I have the local files on the laptop (Presently a 13" MacBook that is going to be turning into a MacBook Air some time in the near future) and the desktop (A Mac Mini). I’ve never had a problem with syncing my writing folder to Sugarsync and working on either machine (not at the same time, of course.)
I can actually sit there and watch Sugarsync send the files as they are edited…
My copies of the .scriv bundles are local and the changes are getting sycned. Scrivener is set to create a backup at file close.
I really wish Dropbox would just recognize bundles as single files instead of directories. I know it does already have some preliminary support for this with regards to downloads, so why not with uploads? It’s a little irritating to keep transferring my files from computer to computer every other day–home, school, home, school, home… Tempting though it is to just put the bundle on Dropbox and keep local backups, my school’s network sometimes cuts me off, so I would be afraid of partial syncs in that case.
The issue is that Dropbox would then have to sync the entire bundle every time anything changed. That would be a real problem with, say, my 3 GB DevonThink Pro database. Even with smaller bundles, it might increase, rather than decrease, sync problems because the added time needed would increase the chance that the user would interrupt the sync.
(Not just picking on Dropbox here. This is an inherent problem for any backup software that has to deal with bundles.)