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In my home, I have two Windows Vista desktops, and two laptops. (One of each for me and fiance) I also have a Windows Home Server running for backups and file sharing. Right now whenever we update our music collections, or one of us downloads photos from the camera, we have to manually make sure each of our PC's is synched up. I have tried 3rd party sync tools such as Microsoft SyncToy, but I am not happy with the results.

Basically, I am wondering two things:

  • Is there a way to set the offline files to a specific location?

Meaning, if I set up //SERVER/Music up as available offline and having those offline files be stored locally in C:\Users\Me\Music? The built in offline files capacity works really nicely from a sync standpoint, and I would rather use that than a 3rd party program.

  • Is it possible to have that central photo or music repository, if I managed to accomplish the above task, work with other software such as Windows Photo, or iTunes?

So that ideally when one of us opens up Windows Photo, we are working off of the same "database", or when we open iTunes, we have the same Music library?

Long story short, I am trying to maintain one repository of music and photos (among other things) for my fiance and I; while maintaining a local copy of the data for redundancy and speed so that in the event the server crashes we not only are still able to view our photos and listen to music, but also to ensure nothing gets lost.

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4 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This is exactly what Microsoft Live Sync is for.

I use it to sync between 3 computers; mine, my wife's and our kids.

Photos - synced between all three.

Music - synced between mine and kids.

Our main group of files - synced between all three. This includes homework, address lists etc.

Our financial data - synced between my wife and me.

I then use mozy on my computer to back it all up. Plus, I have at least two local copies as well in the event of a hardware failure.

We use iTunes, but each has been set to not organize files and not use the default location. The database needs to be updated but the set of music is identical.

It used to be called Foldershare but I have been using it for years and it is awesome. Works peer to peer on a Lan so moving files is fast. Usually syncs within a minute once a file is closed.

All the computers need to access the internet to make the connection but no storage is done online. The sync can also be performed using a peer to peer connection over the internet but it is obviously slower.

Works great since our daughters may all be working on homework simultaneously on different computers and their files are on all three computers.

When we bought a new family computer, I just took the old one offline and set up the new one. Overnight, it had all the files from the other two.

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Am I mistaken or is this very similar to the Apple "MobileMe"? I have seen this before but I was under the impression most of the synching took place online. Do I need tons of online storage to do what I need or does it know when two devices are on the same network? –  WerkkreW May 13 '09 at 20:56
    
Live sync does NOT require online storage. You need access to the server to make the connection but all the storage is on your local computer. Our company uses it to synchronize animation computers where the library of textures and dependent files needs to be the same. that way all the relevant employees have all the files they need. –  Peter Hoven May 13 '09 at 23:15
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I don't have firsthand experience with it, but isn't that what MS Live Mesh/Live Sync is supposed to do?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Live_Core

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I have a similar need but have found synctoy works pretty well for me - I have 40Gb of Photos and 30Gb of mp3's that sync in minutes.

Offline files will be more painful I think.

Can you clarify the problem more- perhaps improving your network infrastructure may be more beneficial?.

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The network infrastructure is what it is...its my home internet over a standard Wireless router. Speed isn't the problem. SyncToy simply often hangs up, or incorrectly sync's things and I basically do not trust it. To clarify, basically I want my fiance and I to have the same set of photos and music files available to us at all times. Pointing the location of my photos to the network share seems to be the answer, the lingering problem is offline files. –  WerkkreW May 13 '09 at 20:23
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We have a small business client who does a similar thing, although the sync only happens every hour.

The situation is this: the client has a small business server, and 10 work stations. All files are stored on the server, and accessed/edited from the server. Also, for redundancy, each workstation keeps a local copy of its own user files, updated hourly, so that, in the event of a server crash or other server-offline event, each worker still has access to his personal files . We accomplished this by:

1) Creating a folder on each workstation that the server could access.

2) Installing Handy Backup (http://www.handybackup.com/) on the server.

3) setting Handy Backup to push out each users files to their local machine once every hour.

This provides the redundancy you're discussing in regards to you and your fiancee both having complete access to the library in any offline situation.

Now, in regards to iTunes etc using a central server repository - that is done pretty easily. Just map a server drive to the local machine and tell iTunes that is where the music lies. All you have to do if you ever go offline is change that location.

I know that Handybackup is a third party app, but it's one of the good ones. Lightweight, cheap, easy to set up, easy to use. It's like teracopy, windows should've simply been designed with similar functionality from the get-go =)

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