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Note: Manual synchronization is about this fun …

Synchronization is one of those things that is fundamentally important and yet hard as hell to get right. I’ve been in the computer industry for a long, long time now and I’ve only ever seen it done well a few times:

  • Lotus Notes - say what you want about Notes, it got sync right=
  • Palm III - Hawkins nailed it
  • The Late, Lamented Dropbox of Yesteryear

I say the Dropbox of yesteryear because the Dropbox I use today, well, sucks slimy green toads. Here’s what I found myself doing yesterday as I left the office to work somewhere else:

scp -p 192.168.1.25:/Users/sjohnson/fuzzygroup/adl/pol-hate-analysis/categorical.parquet .
scp -p 192.168.1.25:/Users/sjohnson/fuzzygroup/adl/pol-hate-analysis/read_categorical2.py .

Yep. That’s right. I manually scp’d files from my big desktop down to my laptop to work on them when I went remote. It was a miserable experience and it reminded me of what life used to be like – when Dropbox worked. It used to be that I would simply work on files in my ~/Dropbox directory and I was assured that sync would magically get files from my desktop to my laptop in damn near real time.

Here’s what happens now:

  • Files never sync reliably - each of my machines is at a different point in the sync process continually
  • Sync tries to sync files that haven’t changed in 2 years – and not a few files; I’ve seen more than 500K files try and sync constantly
  • Dropbox uses > 90% of my CPU
  • I have one Dropbox account and I always have login issues

I get that Dropbox feels the need to add new features to compete with Microsoft’s OneDrive and GoogleDrive and Box.com and I don’t begrudge them the ability to add new features. What I want, however, is a working version of the features they originally promised me – machine to machine file synchronization.

I’m sorry Dropbox but you simply suck. And I’m currently looking at SyncThing as a replacement; no it isn’t exactly the same but maybe it will at least work.

Note 1: I am a paid customer of Dropbox. The product they provide even their paying customers simply doesn’t work. Or at least it doesn’t work as it used to.

Note 2: This isn’t a complicated use case where I’m talking Mac to PC sync or something like that. I’m simply saying “Sync files in ~/Dropbox on Machine 1 to ~/Dropbox on Machine 2”.