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Folder Sync Explained

Folder sync has two primary uses:

  • Backups - Make copies of your important data to remote servers or to others disks on the desktop system. Either way it is the same easy-to-use interface!
  • Website maintenance (Publishing) - Normally you have on your desktop a copy of your website that you edit. Whenever you think you done with your changes for now, you want to publish to your website. This is extremely easy with AASync, the sync engine will automatically find your changes and publish your new and changed files only to the remote server. You may sync as often as you like.

Folder Sync means a very simple thing: You have a source folder whose contents you edit. Whenever the sync operation is performed, the target folder will get the deltas only, so changed files are copied to the target folder. This sounds very simple, but first we have to clear the air about the different kinds of Folder Syncronizations that are possible. Here is a quick explanation of terms:

Source Folder: The folder whose contents you change (like your local copy of your website). When you are done changing it, you run a Local-to-Remote sync to publish your changes.

Destination(Target) Folder: The folder that you do not touch directly, the sync engine will publish your changes from the Source Folder into the Destination Folder. This target folder can reside on your local machine or on a remote host on which you have an FTP or SSH/SFTP account.

Local: It could be confusing what is local, since you can mount a network resource onto your workstation. If you do that, in fact, that remote file share becomes "local" as far as AASync is concerned. Anything that is reachable directly on your desktop is local. (on Windows network shares reachable only through a UNC path cannot be used unless they are also mounted with a drive letter).

Remote: Any host that is reachable only by FTP or SFTP is "remote".

Cumulative vs. Mirror: Cumulative sync is the default. It means the following: when a file is changed/created in the source folder, it will be copied in its entirety to the destination folder, overwriting the previous version of the file there (it is NOT a versioned backup like TimeMachine). If the file is deleted in the source folder, it will stay around in the destination, it will not be deleted, so it can still be browser/retrieved later. If the Mirror option is enabled, files that are deleted in the source will also be deleted in the destination folder. That is not recommended for backup sync.

More on Sync Options...

Local Sync to an external (or mounted) drive

In this case both source and destination folders reside on the local workstation. Either one can be on the internal drive or a mounted external drive, the point is that there is NO network protocol (like FTP) access involved in reaching either source or target folder. The only requirement is that the destination folder MUST be writable.

Local to Remote Sync

In this case the target folder resides on a remote host. There is no need to have any custom software run on the remote host, all you need is a simple FTP or SSH/SFTP account. When you specify the target folder, the URL will contain the remote host, protocol (FTP or SFTP), username and full path of the target folder.

Remote to Local Sync

In this case the source folder resides on a remote host. This kind of sync operation requires SSH/SFTP account. FTP cannot support Remote-to-Local(RTL) sync, because the protocol is too poor to provide the necessary information. When you specify the source folder, the URL will contain the remote host, protocol (SFTP only), username and full path of the source folder.

How does the synchronization process work?
AASync chews its way through the source folder, automagically finds the changed files using various methods, then recursively goes through the source folder and transfers all the changed files (and ONLY the changed files!!). This makes the process very quick and efficient, files that are not touched will not be copied. Files are always transferred whole.

Here is the Sync Panel:

This table shows all existing Sync Definitions. The name of the sync along with its status and last sync time is shown. The green check icon means the last sync has concluded without error. If there is an error or the sync has been aborted by the user, a Yellow Caution icon is shown. If the sync is run on a schedule, an alarm clock is shown after the name, if the sync is chained and start after another sync, the chain icon is shown. The Windows version has the same organization with minimal differences.

The columns:

  • The sync name:  name your sync to anything you like, this column is editable

  • The sync status:   OK, Error or Warning.. the status of the last sync.

  • Schedule modes:

    • - the sync will start on a schedule.
    • - after the sync has been performed on schedule, it will attempt to hibernate the host computer (Windows only).
    • - after the sync has been performed on schedule, it will attempt to suspend the host computer into standby (sleep) mode.
    • - This sync is chained to (will be run after another) scheduled sync.

  • Sync modes:

    • Empty - the default (cumulative) sync.
    • - Mirror Sync: Files/Folders that have been deleted in the source will be deleted in the destination too.
    • - Archived (without encryption) backup sync.
    • - Archived and Encrypted backup sync.

  • Size   size of the source folder (if known).

  • The last sync time   making it very convenient to check when this sync was performed last. If you want to see the log of the last run just click the "Last Log" icon under the menus.

  • The next sync time (Windows Only).  

Set up sync definitions by clicking the New or Edit Selected Sync buttons. That brings up the Options Panel. The bottom table shows all sync pairs that have been defined already.

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