Sunday, September 07, 2008

SyncToy Replaced with Unison (again)

After coming back from holidays I found something has happened to the sync in my Mesh account. My files and folders were being deleted in the synchronization. There was also an updated version downloaded but the mess continued. That lasted for a few days. I had my backup copy on a spare drive so I was trying to get through the sync mess and get to a point where all the locations were in sync with the correct files from the backup.
Then the update came out, stating there was a bug in the previous version. Installed that and started handling conflicts. Some folders kept being deleted after I copy files back from backup. I found that it is easier to go to an online desktop and then rename one of the folders with the same name (which is what happens if there is a conflict) and then delete one of them on a PC, since they can not be deleted on the online desktop.

Along with all that mess I, then, wanted to get my PC and the external drive back in sync for backups. That was even messier. Both platforms use Microsoft Sync Framework so the mess continued. The initial settings were Echo but the problem is that, it appears, all the changes get propagated. Meaning, if I replaced some files with a backup copy I'd get a delete action for the backup copy. :S That would delete my only valid copy of the files. So I tried to set the action to Sync but then there was even more weird choices and half the files would get overwritten for no reason. I wonder why is there no binary comparison done and then only the date can get updated rather than to copy all the files over. I liked none of the options.
Also, some of the files were copied to the target directory with .1 being added to the name, adding to the confusion.

I, then used Total Commander, to sync the folders where dates did not matter as the files were not updated for some time now. This was quick and easy. But the sync solution was not working anymore. Fixing things with other software just made SyncToy useless now.

So I went back to using Unison. It was so comforting to go back to a tested and proven solution that I can't describe my joy. Simple config files providing total control over what gets or does not get copied. Control over what happens to each individual change. These are all life savers.
Maybe, when I get the files back in sync, I can continue with SyncToy's Echo option as I'd like to copy changes from my PC to the backup drive and not do an actual synchronization. That's one option missing in Unison. Actually, this can be achieved with forcing changes from the left to the right. And I would not even have to preview the changes. This could all be set up in a batch file. Hmmm. That seems even better than SyncToy. Well, the case is up for the Unison (again) and SyncToy is out once again. Maybe some next version will be more usable than the current 2.0 is.
Unison, wellcome back. Unison is not being actively developed but it works and there is no need to develop it further as it already contains a nice feature set expected from a sync program. Hope I can get my files back in order now.

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