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What's the easiest way to synchronize text files between two computers?
December 31, 2004 5:56 PM   Subscribe

I maintain lists of to-dos and other information in a lot of text files. Currently I've been having to shuttle them between work and home via my FTP server, which is about a five step process and rather annoying, espcially when Dreamhost is slow. What is an easier way to synchronize text files between two Windows XP machines that are NOT on the same LAN... with a big emphasis on EASY, preferably two steps or less?
posted by hansbleep to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
 
Thumbdrive? Local.
posted by sled at 5:58 PM on December 31, 2004


The files should be web based. Do you have a GMail account? You know how they thread email discussions? Keep your information in something like that. Or if you have any inclination to programming, this is an easy roll your own in PHP/ColdFusion and a NotesAndStuff database for maximum adaptability to your needs.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:11 PM on December 31, 2004


you might be interested in the gmail file system for doing just that.
posted by jessamyn at 6:34 PM on December 31, 2004


You can also use something like Yahoo -- the personal portal lets you use a simple notepad application or the Yahoo briefcase will let you store your text files (like jessamyn's gmail suggestion). Or, you can use a Plaxo type service that has a web based To-Do list application that can also synchronize with Outlook's To-Do list (if you ever decide to stop using plain text files)
posted by omair at 6:37 PM on December 31, 2004


Because I maintain some additonal stuff like Treepad outlines the web-based apps and outlook won't quite cut it. But thanks everyone for the suggestions! Jessamyn's idea of using GmailFS is the one I'm going to end up going with I think. If anyone is interested, here is a port of GmailFS for Windows that looks useful.
posted by hansbleep at 7:06 PM on December 31, 2004


I use the unix command "rsync" for stuff like that. It's really quite perfect for it. There might be a direct windows port, otherwise, cygwin is a unix environment for windows. It's, um a bit of overkill if all you want is syncing.

You might consider using "CVS" which stands for Concurrent Versioning System. It's what myself, and many other software developers, use to maintain code. There is a central repository. You can check out all or part of the repository on each computer as you like. When you have come to a stopping point of some kind you "commit" the changes back to the repository and when you go to another computer you "update" the local copy to match the repository. You may need the help of a friendly geek if you aren't one to get it set up.

Some fringe benefits: it will keeps versions of your documents. You can look at the chance history, add comments about changes, roll back to previous versions, etc.

It has lots of ways to communicate with the server, the one I like is just plain SSH, which has the benefit of being secure.

There are windows ports of it, although I know little about them. My boss uses wincvs. I use the standard unix client. There is a web client called webcvs that runs on apache that is useful for browsing repositories, I use it largely to see what has been changing in our projects (just poking around, seeing what others are doing).
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:20 PM on December 31, 2004


Unison. From the site: "It allows two replicas of a collection of files and directories to be stored on different hosts (or different disks on the same host), modified separately, and then brought up to date by propagating the changes in each replica to the other." Free, GPL, cross-platform.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:33 PM on December 31, 2004


You could also try dokuwiki. It's a wiki that uses text files as its backend, rather than a database.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:44 PM on December 31, 2004


I suggest you google for "personal wiki" and look for a wiki that suits your needs.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2004


I use a wiki for this same purpose. Qwikiwiki was the easiest for me to set up on dreamhost. Good times.
posted by adamkempa at 10:28 PM on December 31, 2004


Try something as simple as a web server! Wikis are maintenance. WebDAV can be as easy as opening a file server connection.
posted by AlexReynolds at 10:44 PM on December 31, 2004


I'm a huge fan of foldershare for almost this exact sort o' thing. Should handle a bunch of textfiles without a problem...
posted by Doktor at 11:29 PM on December 31, 2004


You can use Remote Login (built in to XP pro, downloadable from Microsoft for other OS's) to login from any computer to an XP Pro machine. With the correct settings you can see the hardrives on both machines and drag files across. I have used it to retrieve files from my former (grad student) lab computer many states away. When you login you actually see the desktop of the remote computer and can run programs on it, including browsing the local (for it) network. Mac friends use it to run simulation software that is not available for macs.
posted by 445supermag at 8:28 AM on January 1, 2005


I've tried most of the techniques here at some point, and while I now use a personal wiki, I have to agree with the very first poster that keeping your files on a thumbdrive (and just storing backups/very old files on your machine) probably meets your requirements best in terms of ease. Unlike many of the other solutions, it would not involve changing your existing organizational system at all - just copy it to the drive. Also, it would transparently work on any OS that supports USB, and you could put versions of your favorite editor there as well, so as not to have to install emacs/vim/whatever on any system you use.
posted by advil at 10:21 AM on January 1, 2005


I use a text editor called ultradit which has built in ftp open/save ability.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:41 AM on January 1, 2005


another vote for gmailfs.
posted by juv3nal at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2005


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