Subscriber JJ had an interesting plan, and wrote to ask:
Thanks for allowing us to ask questions. My question is this:
I have a PC at my office and one at home. I use the one at home to work from on “sick” days and “bad weather” days. I try to keep the same data files on both PC’s. Sometimes I add files to the home PC that is not on the office PC and visa versa.
What is the best way to synchronize these two hard drives so that no data is lost from either, but yet they both continually have the same data on them. I have an external hard drive that I usually copy my office data files to (almost 8 Gigs!) and then copy the whole thing to the home PC, but I find this to be very bothersome and time consuming. Do you have a better method? I would love to hear it.
Unfortunately for JJ, he’s probably got the best approach, but it’s not foolproof. There really is no way to do it and do it totally safely.
I realize that he’s talking about 8 GB of files, but that couple be a very large number of relatively small files, rather than some huge ones. If so, some remote access solutions, such as GoToMyPC, will let you log into the office PC from home and then transfer files from the office PC to the home PC. Of course, they also will let you actually use the remote (office) PC from home to perform the tasks you want. GoToMyPC will even let you use the OFFICE PC for the work, while using your local (e.g., home) PC for sound and printing — giving you the best of worlds.
However, other than this type of hybrid solution, JJ has a challenge. Synchronizing is virtually impossible unless the individual application is (1) a database and (2) allows record locking. That’s true even if you’re using the SAME COPY of the data file!
The basic problem is that you may change a file, say a spreadsheet, on one computer and also may have changed the same spreadsheet on the other computer. At that point, simply replacing the older file with the newest file will overwrite the file and lose the unique changes that were in the older file.
I can’t suggest a safe method to do this — it’s not possible for the system keeping you straight. YOU will have to be careful — and keep backups of the files, too. All too often, you won’t realize that you have a problem with a file until the missing (or wrong) portion bites you.
I’m back to the idea that remote access to the original file is the best solution.