I'm looking for a program (hopefully free) that essentially syncs an external hard drive with files on the computer's hard drive, and updates them both with the newer files. Pretty much how syncing works with an iPod - though without the nasty habit of deleting something from both locations if you deleted it from one.
My situation: I work on a Mac in the office (and sometimes PC, but for my case, this thread is very much focused on the mac), and I have all my files on an external hard drive. A lot of large, graphic design type files. I often work from home as well, so everything is on this external hard drive. Not very good if it fails, though I do semi-regular backups onto our servers at work, it takes a long time and the most current files are always with me locally. What I want is to have a folder on my work mac, and a folder on my external drive, that are identical in structure and files. Essentially a copy. But if I make a change, or work on and update a file in any one of them, when I plug in the drive, and run a program, I want to sync those changes.
I'm also pushing to get a time capsule here at work for Time Machine, just to make extra sure we have backups. There are a couple of people in the office interested in all this as well, though I'm the most technically proficient of them and so it's my task to find a good solution. I've looked online, and mostly found web solutions to sync files. This will not work. I need a local solution that does not require a network connection - that would be far too slow with the files I'm working on.
Anybody have anything? As I said, free is good, but we'll pay for quality software if that's the best choice. While I need software for the mac, I also have a work PC running XP, and a computer at home with Windows 7, so I'd like to hear about Windows programs as well. That's optional though, as the mac program is a necessity.
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You can also use a drive attached to another PC, too: Just set up a "connection to a server" on your Mac, then once you are mapped, do the same procedure above.
If you already have a drive/computer in mind for your storage, you don't need to drop boku bucks on the actual Time Capsule. If you have a router with a USB port, connect your drive to that and then connect to it. It'll still work.
Now the downside here is that to use Time Machine, you need to format it with the mac file system. Which in itself isn't a huge deal, BUT your PC's in the office might have a hard time accessing it. The only option you might be left with is to partition your attached storage to allow for NFS/FAT file systems.
And in your case, if you have multiple people copying files around... syncing WILL be an issue. Changing the file on your Mac will copy the changes to your Time Machine backup; you can't "save" files to your Time Machine backup. In other words, it's not just a spare drive you can share to.
But for what it does, the Time Machine does it very well. My advice is, work always on your computer, and let time Machine handle the back-ups. It sounds like it's a departure from your standard operating procedure, but then again, my logic is that if you're regularly saving files to something and working off of it... it isn't a back-up.
If this doesn't sound like what you need, then I think there's quite a few apps out there with "sync" in the name. Have you tried the OS X software page over at Apple?
*Oh, and important note! The first time you conduct a back-up to a Time Machine, if you're doing the network based connection, HARDWIRE THAT SHIT. Over-the-air, for something as small as 20GB's worth of data, can take a DAY.
I'm really looking at this in two stages. Stage one is just having a program to sync the newest files, and only the ones that have been changed, between an external hard drive (formatted FAT because it's used on a PC sometimes) and the internal drive on the iMac. Stage two involves nightly backups with Time Machine of all those internal files onto the Time Capsule. I have the Time Machien and Time Capsule configuration figured out.
The solution I need now is to just sync files between any external device, and a folder on the iMacs themselves. I'm also starting to use Dropbox, and I'm looking for a similar solution, but offline only.
EDIT: Just to be clear, the Time Machine is only an extra backup solution. It's not what I'm looking for here. In the grand scheme of things, we'll have 4 locations for files. A set on an external drive, and a set on the computer's hard drive. These are the two "working locations." Either one could be updated, and either one might have newer files than the other. This is where I need syncing. The other 2 locations, would be a "local" backup through Time Machine. Each computer would have their own time machine backup - this is just being extra sure, and it's a solution we don't need to 'think' about. The last location is on our work network - this would likely be less frequent, once a week, maybe once a month, and probably involve manually backup up files and updating folders, which we don't like to do.