Mismarried Mac, Mac, Mac
December 20, 2007 7:59 AM   Subscribe

How can I sync, and keep in sync, my Powerbook G4 (tiger) & Mac Mini (leopard)?


I'm surprised that there isn't a streamlined way of accomplishing what I imagine would be a routine setup, but there you have it. How do you achieve this? Help me find the best solution, if not the perfect one.

My Goal:
To be able to use either of my two computers at will, and have them stay up-to-date with one another. I use my laptop to lounge around the house, meet with clients, etc. I use the Mac Mini for intensive work. I use both for common tasks like email and working on documents.

My Setup:
- Powerbook G4 - PPC - Tiger - 80gb
- Mac Mini - Intel - Leopard - 120gb - new.
- Several external harddrives, including an iPod Classic 160gb
- One of the hard drives is a Lacie Ethernet 500gb, but I doubt my poor Internet setup (see below) can do anything useful with it. and I'm not sure I know how to use it really
- Slow internet connection with a Belkin N1 wireless router (can't change)
- I use SuperDuper to back up my Powerbook

What I've Tried:
- An initial Migration Assistant -- I get an inexplicable error message each time I attempt it. It hasn't worked. I set up my Powerbook as the target disk, the Mac Mini recognized it, but the actual sync failed.

- dotMac subscription -- I tried the demo, even though I really don't want to pay for it in the future, and the notdotmac thing just scares me. Still, it doesn't seem that it will be the panacea I'm looking for, in that it IMAPs and has a 10gb limit, which I don't imagine to be enough (I have about 8 email accounts and a LOT of attachments). And, it's pricey.

- gmail-imap-mail.app -- I've been using POP3 on my powerbook with my gmail accounts, and think it's the bee's knees. I really didn't want to go down the IMAP route, since I want the messages to be all stored locally, and instantly readable. Still, I gave it a chance with a throwaway gmail account. I saw why it could work, but it's so... very... slow... It can sometimes take *minutes* to open a simple message. I realize this is likely the fault of my ISP or whatever, but there's not much I can do about it. I might decide to bear with it if y'all convince me it's the way to go -- and if it can sync the sent messages and statuses of my email/gmail on both my machines.

My Questions: it's really all one big question, but I'll break it down for simplicity's sake
1. Should/could I use my already-used Leopard disk to upgrade my Powerbook, so I can more simply use File Sharing and integrate the systems, and use Chronosync easily?
2. ChronoSync. Has anyone used it in this sort of situation? I don't trust myself to run a sync every time I switch computers, which is what the program seems to want, to avoid 'erratic results.' I see that a new version is out soon. Maybe it will be more foolproof?
3. If I do switch to IMAP, does that mean that all of my POPped emails will be overwritten, unfiled, unmarked as read? Should I sync the messages first to the other computer and then switch?
4. dotMac. Should I give it another chance? If I use POP on each of my computers to the same account (assuming this works) - will dotMac keep them synced -- as in, what's been read, what's been deleted, what's been sent?
5. How else can I creatively achieve harmony?

I've seen the other threads on the topic, but none are as fully integrated as I hope. I apologize if this post seems fussy, finicky and finical. I'm just looking for your solutions to a similar setup.
posted by prophetsearcher to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: By the way, here are some potential programs I've found that might be useful. Does anyone have any experience with them (specifically with Tiger<>Leopard)?

Folder Synchronizer
posted by prophetsearcher at 8:03 AM on December 20, 2007

I do this with two Macs and a PC using an application called FolderShare. It's free. It works. I love it.

The end.

The only caveat I would mention is that FolderShare was recently (as in, a couple years ago) acquired by Microsoft, so if you have a particular point of view that would prohibit you from using software from Microsoft, it's something to keep in mind.

However, I stand by my love for Foldershare.
posted by kbanas at 8:22 AM on December 20, 2007

Oh, also, yes, switch to IMAP. Trying to keep POP mailboxes synchronized across multiple machines is a horrendous hassle, and you definitely don't want to sync mailboxes, because they can be huge, and it could cause all sorts of problems.

As for switching from POP to IMAP, it really depends on how your POP mailbox is currently set to behave. Is it configured to leave messages on the server, or are they deleted from the server once you download them? Or do you not know? And if you don't know, what program do you use to check your mail? I can point you towards where to check.
posted by kbanas at 8:25 AM on December 20, 2007

Oh, right, you said Mail.app. I need to learn to read.

Anyway, yeah, I think if you want your mail to be synchronized in a reliable way, IMAP is really the only route that I can think of... I can't think of an easy way to keep POP mailboxes synchronized, because it's just fundamentally not the way POP works.
posted by kbanas at 8:27 AM on December 20, 2007

I do think you should give Chronosync a chance. I think you can accomplish everything you want with some smart syncs.

Since you can script Chronosync, as well as integrate it with Automator, I am sure you can program an automator / script action to run a Chronosync function at logout from either Mac, so that when you're done using one, you can immediately begin using your other Mac.

It does seem tedious, but I am unfamiliar with anything like this constantly running in the background to keep things in sync. Syncs usually run at certain points in time (at startup, logout or shutdown, on command).

Good luck!
posted by lonemantis at 9:22 AM on December 20, 2007

Response by poster: kbanas- thanks for all the pointers. Can you give nod towards resources on switching from POP to IMAP with Mail.app? I'm not sure what's on the server where... Tried checking my gmail settings, but couldnt find any info there...
posted by prophetsearcher at 9:43 AM on December 20, 2007

Well, here's the deal - and keep in mind that I just got back from my office Christmas lunch and I'm kind of plastered...

Launch Mail.app.

Access Preferences, then go to Accounts, select the appropriate Account and go to the tab labeled "Mailbox Behaviors".

What you're looking for here is how the POP account is configured to treat mail that you download and read. There is an option somewhere that says something like, "Delete mail from the server when I download it" - this is the crux of pretty much the whole transition.

If the mail is deleted from the mail server when you download it to your local machine, then when you setup an IMAP account it will pull down absolutely no mail initially, because mail isn't stored on the server and there's nothing there. From then on, any mail that comes into your account will be stored on the server and will be synchronized across clients. However, your older POP mail will still be accessible via local folders.

If your POP account is configured to KEEP mail on the server, then when you configure it as an IMAP account it will show you all your mail - but everything will be marked as new mail until you go through and mark it as read in bulk or something like that.

I mean, the main thing to keep in mind is that you can't really do much destructive if you switch over to IMAP. Unless you delete mail, IMAP is basically just showing you what's up on the mail server, so if you switch over, test it out and don't like it, you can always go back. Switching the other way, from IMAP to POP, can often go hilariously wrong, as people will inadvertently "pop" their mailboxes down from the server and all their mail will be deleted. Heh.

Also, I'm kind of tipsy, so I apologize if I said something the wrong way.

If you have specific questions, feel free to write me. My mail is in my profile.
posted by kbanas at 10:43 AM on December 20, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks -- and glad you had a 'spirited' xmas party!
posted by prophetsearcher at 3:35 PM on December 20, 2007

Response by poster: If anyone's still reading - another question:

making the move from POP3 to IMAP -- very scary. What's the best way to do this? Is there any way to keep intact the messages I've read, the folders, all that -- once I 'cross over?'

I'm afraid I'm going to have to resort 10000s of emails and lose all the 100s of pending emails i still intend... someday... to respond to.

also, any other input on above questions still welcome!
posted by prophetsearcher at 2:59 AM on December 23, 2007

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