Cloud File Synchronization
At my company, I’m the only IT person there. As such, my jobs range from fixing the hardware, to maintaining the network, to developing the website. And being the only person who’s able to do any of these things in the company, I can’t really be out of reach from the files needed to keep things going.
The one thing that has kept all of this in line for me for so many years has been Microsoft’s Windows Live Mesh. I’ve known about others for many years, but none of them could offer remote desktop solutions as well as file sync without having to add additional software.
That was all well and good, until I got my Google Cr-48 Chrome OS Netbook. Microsoft allows you to connect to other computers through your local internet browser, but the feature is not supported for Chrome. This only poses a small problem, but it also removes a requirement of the service. If I can’t remote into a computer from Chrome on the Cr-48, then Mesh is no longer the only option for me.
The other issue I found (on any computer) was that to edit the files I had to do so locally – either they had to be on the computer via a share already, or I had to download them from Microsoft’s Skydrive. This was not a problem on a desktop computer – I would just open up Notepad. On the Cr-48, though, I can only view certain files natively within the Chrome browser…not edit them.
To edit the files, I’ve chosen to use Kodingen.com, for reasons that I will go in to with another blog post. However, keeping the files sync’d to a completely separate server on the internet would require one additional thing from my file synchronization software: an API.
Windows Live had an API called Live Framework, but that was pulled in September 2009. I have yet to find out if that service is still available, and if it offers API access to your Mesh/Skydrive shares. In the meantime, I’ve turned my attention to DropBox.com.
DropBox has API access, as well as real-time file synchronization, and is multi-platform. It doesn’t offer the remote desktop connection ability, but that’s unavailable in Google Chrome anyway. It also doesn’t have the ability to create shares out of folders – you have to create a folder to share, but it must reside in the primary Drobox folder. This creates a dilemma when the files you want to sync are in a specific location and already in production. (You can find a full comparison of DropBox to Live Mesh here.)
So right now, I have created a DropBox share on my Work PC. This sends files up to DropBox.com. I’ve also pulled down my development codes from Mesh and created a Mesh Store inside the DropBox folder. Now, I have my files sync’d from the Server to Mesh to my Work-PC to DropBox. The next step is to learn how to implement the API so that I can pass this information off to the Kodingen.com guys. I have yet to dive into the API, but my hope is that I can selectively sync folders from it, and in doing so, keep my intranet site sync’d with the Kodingen cloud for editing the files.
I will have more on the DropBox API stuff in a later post. For now, though, no matter which service you use for keeping your files in the cloud, you have to make sure you can manipulate them there as well.