Working off of network drives (MobileMe, thumb drives...)

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InklingBooks
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Tue May 05, 2009 3:59 pm Post

There's a MacOSXHints discussion of a similar problem that results from using DropBox or Mozy with the latest version of iWork at:

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php? ... 0305070380

I'm not sure the solution will work with Scrivener, but it does show that other applications have a similar problem. The ultimate solution may involve some changes to OS X and to DropBox and Mozy to make them more friendly.

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MrGruff
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Tue May 05, 2009 7:04 pm Post

Well, the inevitable crisis hit me last week: complete and utter collapse of the hard drive in my MacBook. We have had a Time Capsule (1TB) for about a year now, so I was backed up. But, because I was still on Tiger, only at the rate of one back up a day. So when I restored my stuff onto another MacBook I found the last writing session in my current Scrivener project was missing.

That was probably only an hour's work, but it had been a particularly productive hour. Then I went to my DropBox account and found the last Scrivener zip file I had created at the end of that work session. I downloaded and unzipped it, and there, glistening in the sunlight (or so I thought), were the missing words. Every one of them.

So hurrah for Scrivener for making it so easy to create the zip file and hurrah for DropBox for keeping it for me. I've got Time Machine working now, but I'm still keeping the extra copy of the important stuff in the cloud. After all, what will I do when they steal my MacBook and my Time Capsule?

MrGruff

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pooks
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:49 pm Post

AmberV wrote:This concerns using any sort of technology which promises to keep local copies of your work synchronised between multiple computers over the Internet, such as MobileMe (iDisk), DropBox, WebDAV based technologies, and so forth.

(snippage)

To summarise: Use of Scrivener with network synchronised folders and mountable drives is not recommended and you do so at your own risk. The recommended use is to use Scrivener's back-up feature (found in the File menu) to produce zipped archives which can be safely saved to these drives and available to all of your computers.

Work local; back-up often; and develop habits for backing up your last copy of the day so that you'll always have the latest version available to all of your networked computers.


As I've regrettably demonstrated time and again, I am not at all tech-savvy and this stuff easily confuses me. I tried to read this thread and got more confused.

So, let's see if I understand this.

FIRST: Are you saying not to open files on dropbox, mobileme, etc. and work directly onto them? To always work on your computer, and use dropbix, mobileme, etc. simply to store backups?

SECOND: (And this is just rephrasing the first, but I want to make sure I do understand.) When you say, Use of Scrivener with network synchronised folders and mountable drives is not recommended and you do so at your own risk. you aren't saying not to use them as backup, but not to use them to actually work on and save new work on?

Or am I even more confused than I think I am?

Thanks!

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druid
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:03 pm Post

1. Yes. Work on a Scriv file only on your local drive. Before copying it anywhere, ZIP it using the Finder: File: Compress command in OS X. The Scriv file is a package; compress it for safe network copying.

2. If you do the steps in 1, you won't need to worry about 2. Amber is saying, don't attempt to work with a Scriv package, copy it uncompressed elsewhere, and expect to have it survive back and forth transits without damage. It's important to realize that a Scriv file is a package of pieces, not singular.

3. I hasten to add that Amber is perfectly capable of speaking for herself, at considerable length and with perspicacity. I have been yearning to use that word all day. :shock:

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pooks
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:25 pm Post

I use the "Back Project To" option, but didn't know until now that I was supposed to zip it. I've been backing up to my thumb drive w/o zipping but now will know better.

Thanks for the clarification.

And nice use of vocab!

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AmberV
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:31 pm Post

It probably wouldn't be the end of the world if you don't zip it. The main reason I recommend zipping for network saving is to reduce how long it takes to send the file, and to reduce potential compatibility problems as the bundle has to leave the Macintosh world and become a directory full of files. Some services, like DropBox, even try to "handle" that and have been known in the past to mess things up (though I think they fixed that bug). I'd rather just avoid all of that mess and keep it in a simple zip. It also will make your files dramatically smaller. If your projects are mainly text, they'll be about one tenth of their original size. With services like DropBox that means you can store more without having to pay for a large quota, and slow modems or connexions will not have to spend lots of time with the transaction.

Everything druid already stated is what I meant to say the first time around. "Use" implies having Scrivener open, the Project in question open, and that project either physically over a network on a mounted drive, or in a local folder that is constantly and automatically syncing, like a DropBox or iDisk folder. Use does not mean that you cannot store zip files on it. :) That's perfectly safe (as safe as anything is, within reason).
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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pooks
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:34 pm Post

On my thumb drive, is it best to zip, best not to zip, or makes no difference (other than size of files)?

I do have lots of images as part of my project, and webpages, pdfs, and such.

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AmberV
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:40 pm Post

I have no data or statistics to give you a reasonable answer other than my own speculation. I've had problem with flash drives in the past corrupting files. Just remember it is a floppy disk and not a backup server and you'll be okay. I don't zip, myself, but I use an application that does full data verification after copy. It copies, then looks at both the original and the copy and makes sure they match precisely.

Modern flash tech (or the interface circuitry) seems more reliable than in the past. I still treat it like a floppy, though. Or in analogy, as a message on a postcard. I just assume that everyone in between my friend and me is going to read it. I just assume the flash will die and thus only trust it for transfer.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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pooks
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:43 pm Post

Thanks for the further clarification. Which app do you use to verify that the transfer was good?

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AmberV
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:05 pm Post

ChronoSync. It's not a Finder replacement (so it wouldn't be a good choice to just copying some random files), but an application meant to keep two selections mirrored. You choose Folder A and Folder B (or the entire drives) and it will scan both for changes and let you merge them.
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
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pooks
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Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:08 pm Post

Thanks!

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Scott_R
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Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:55 pm Post

Wow, late to the discussion and surprised to see recommendations against what I've been doing for so long!
I had initially used a USB drive, except that it fell off my keychain a few times (by luck, I was able to retrace my steps and find it each time). So I began keeping it on my computers' hard drives, syncing my Powermac and MacBook over the LAN using Synk 4.2 (an older but still perfectly functional freeware version of Synk 6.x). However, I would sometimes forget to do a sync and open up my MacBook miles from home to discover an older version of the project than what I had on the desktop. So, I've started to open the MacBook's Scrivener projects on the Powermac over the LAN, which made sure each system had the most current projects.

So, now both of the latter two were wrong? Synk seemed to handle the multiple component files just fine--it showed that it was copying many files over, newest over oldest. I'm really not keen on going back to the USB drives... would synching be "less bad" than working over the LAN?

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Jaysen
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Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:04 pm Post

1. Only work of local copies.
2. Prefer "Backup to" over live sync of the scriv project.
3. If you live sync, remember that you can only update one project at a time.
4. Backup to other methods, such as USB, "just in case".
5. Remember #1.

Does that help?
Jaysen

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AmberV
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Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:13 pm Post

I should really clarify the original post as there is some confusion over terminology (you aren't the first to conclude that I'm advising against synchronisation software). Synchronisation software which scans two volumes and updates them as necessary is, in my experience, a fairly safe action (though it can be susceptible to errors originating between the keyboard and your eyeballs, but then so is practically everything). Most of these programs are very careful about how they copy data, using redundant caches and such to guard against the kind of USB issues you've experienced.

Synchronisation applications which offer "Cloud" mirror are an entirely different thing, and this is what I advised against in the original post.

Incidentally, working over a high speed LAN should not be a huge problem. It is more risky than an internal hard-drive, naturally, but ethernet is robust and these modern cards are excellent at assembling data in both directions. Given the choice, I would always recommend copying files to a local internal drive before opening it in Scrivener, and then copying it back out over LAN, USB, or wherever only after it is closed and you are done for the session. This is always going to be the safest way to work. And of course, no matter what methods you use, always periodically back up using the handy Cmd-Shift-S feature in Scrivener. In the grand scheme of things, I'd take LAN over USB any day. It's a much older and more robust technology, and while I've seen many dozens of issues even with USB hard drives, it is very rare that I see transmission errors in a LAN network (that are not transparently corrected). That said, I would never work off of it myself. I always always always work off of internal hard-wired drives, and I've never had a data corruption issue (outside of intentionally attempting to cause one, which doesn't count!)
.:.
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Scott_R
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Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:25 pm Post

Thanks for the clarification. The LAN option seemed the best for me, as it always ensured that I had an up-to-date copy without forgetting/losing a USB drive (or, worse, accidental removal with a project still open), or forgetting to sync--how irritating that is, to open the MacBook and realize your newest material is back home!. Currently, I sync projects between my two systems by way of backup, but work off the MacBook so that I always have the newest version with me.