back to article Got that syncing feeling? Cloud's client-side email problem

Despite predictions of its demise, we've been happily using email in business since it first became widespread more than two decades ago. In many ways it's defined the way we compose, reply or send digital messages. A number of technologies have consolidated and extended it to something that became called "collaboration". …

  1. Cronus

    Why the hate?

    Star Trek: TNG was great; Microsoft could only dream of having something so good.

  2. Real Ale is Best


    Hmm, I thought that Dropbox was supposed to support local syncing to alleviate the problem.

    Yeah, it does, albeit with limitations.

  3. cbars

    Algorithms to the rescue

    Surely we just need to wait for a better algorithm?

    For the 'tidy up' scenario:

    Build an index of folders and their contents, and hashes of both, check the index against existing folders to detect "moves" done outside of the main sync program, obviously follow up matches with more detailed comparisons before assuming they're the same. If a folder contains the same number of files with the same names/updated dates, with some statistically significant proportion of matched hashes, you're free to assume that's a rename operation and don't bother re-syncing

    For the whole office sync example:

    Copy microsoft and designate a local proxy which does all the syncing, clients sync to that instead of the mothership

    An aside on the Google sync on Mac example:

    Software has bugs - this is a problem with cloud sync applications specifically??

    1. TReko

      Re: Algorithms to the rescue

      Yes, software has bugs, but Google and Microsoft seem to regard fixing their buggy sync clients as a low priority, probably because it ain't their core business.

      There are higher quality third party sync clients around - we use SyncDocs to sync to Google Drive, and it does the job more reliably and faster.

  4. Tim99 Silver badge

    Kids, eh?

    Despite predictions of its demise, we've been happily using email in business since it first became widespread more than two decades ago. In many ways it's defined the way we compose, reply or send digital messages. A number of technologies have consolidated and extended it to something that became called "collaboration".

    Some of us can still collaborate by typing "mail" at the command line - It has worked for decades, the way that $DEITY intended. Now, if I can only find a decent CLI text mail program for my iPad...

    1. 27escape

      Re: Kids, eh?

      Surely you can just say to the computer running the mail client. So you only need a good SSH and terminal app

  5. steelpillow Silver badge

    I'll tell you why

    Because the longer you work in a big place, the less you trust the network and services to be up when you need them.

    Sync means you can keep working while the IT guys are fixing stuff elsewhere.

    I never saw so many crazy excuses as the pile of exemption applications when hotdesking was introduced. The most relevant here was; "I have to be available 100% of my hours. It takes over half an hour to update a workstation so I can work locally when the network fails."

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stupid cloud

    Last month I switched back to pop3 email. What a revelation. Despite my internet connection being 99.999999% reliable, despite the speed being over 100x faster than dialup days, those 500ms lags when you switch folders or sync are really unacceptable.

    Interfaces should have 5ms latencies, and everything else is a massive step backwards.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Stupid cloud

      Interfaces should have 5ms latencies

      That's only 500km of fibre, not always practical.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "those 500ms lags when you switch folders or sync"

      Try removing Windows Search, you just might find those delays are gone.

      I bought a Synology NAS a few years ago now, and as I loaded it with files, I observed that folder access speed was slowing down. Past 1000 files in a folder, it became a nightmare (size of files irrelevant).

      For some reason I cannot recall, I removed Windows Search from my PC and, lo and behold, my NAS was now responding with sub-millisecond speeds however many files were in the folders.

      Thank you Microsoft, again.

      Of course, if you decide to do this, you'll need another search program and you won't be able to search for Windows applications from the Start bar. Since I never do that, I don't particularly care. I installed Everything Search, and it works a million times better than Windows Search since it doesn't take ages to index you PC and when you type a search, it finds all the files that correspond to what you're typing on the fly, immediately. You know, like what you should be able to expect from a PC that is a million times faster than what we had in 1996.

  7. steamrunner

    Can we Selective Sync it? Yes we can!

    " There's no way to enforce across an organisation which Cloud file storage folders can be synced locally and which ones can't. ... [cut] ... Ideally, let me set that if user is in group marketing, then marketing folder sync locally equals yes else no."

    You've obviously deployed the wrong sync-and-share solution in your 'enterprise' if you can't do this.

    Random example: we use Autotask Workplace* (neé Soonr) and yes, it does this, if you want, no problem. As administrator, I can choose to be as facist or as liberal with users (or groups) as I want on a whole host of syncs, policies and settings...

    (* Other sync-and-share solutions are of course available and may do this too, but I can't be arsed to check on a Friday when I'm supposed to be busy. This one I happen to use.)

    PS: I can't believe I'm saying this - and I'm sprinking holy water as I do just in case - but Google Drive on my Mac works... just fine. In fact, so fine it's boring and I forget about it. And that's with BoxCryptor piled on top as well.


  8. Lysenko


    For the cloudy stuff and then back that with AWS. Problem solved.

  9. Doctor_Wibble

    U And Umption

    With reference to probably the only movie quote from Samuel L Jackson that doesn't need beeping*, an assumption that internet means access and therefore a functioning setup is on the one hand really not unreasonable but on the other, not something I'd really want to stake anything on of much value.

    For me, sync means multiple backups in multiple locations - even if I did use 'the cloud' I would still want to do that and not stake everything on them properly adhering to their end of the deal in addition to having no control over their required maintenance schedule.

    Short version : Trust and Faith. Possibly with Bah Humbug.


    * A favourite, from The Long Kiss Goodnight where he is Frank and Ernest.

  10. JetSetJim

    Frickin' synch

    It would also be nice if s/w would notice that a file hadn't actually been changed before determining that it needs to synch it. Outlook has the irritating habit of flagging PST files as modified (in OneDrive's view, anyway), even if all it's done is open them, triggering a 1.5GB synch for each of the (currently) 6 annual files I keep for SWMBO. But I can't just take a static backup as SWMBO might muck around with it.

    1. James12345

      Re: Frickin' synch

      If you insist on using Outlook....

      You do know it is 2017, not 2007, don't you?

    2. midcapwarrior

      Re: Frickin' synch

      File last accessed is a file attribute.

      When you open the file you change the attribute which triggers a synch update.

      If you have admin rights you can mod this.

      Personally stopped using PST long ago but we have TB of mail storage.

  11. James12345

    You might need to check your Mac's setup

    I've never had the spinning beach ball due to Google Drive sync.

    Cisco Jabber on the other hand.....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    The Cloud is for Backups

    We sync locally for the same reason we prefer SSDs - speed. Even an HDD is faster and more reliable than grabbing something off the cloud, any cloud. Nobody wants to hear you didn't meet the deadline because the cloud was slow or unavailable or messed up.

  13. AMBxx Silver badge

    My C# folders

    Would be nice if OneDrive could cope with folders with # in the name. Every time I start a new install of Visual Studio, it creates a series of folders for C# solutions and projects. I then have to rename them all to stop the OneDrive errors.

    Maybe in the Autumn update?

  14. John Crisp


    Been using it for 10 years or more to sync two offices (for 7 years it actually handled 3 sites) with low speed rural ADSL.

    All files are saved to the local server, and the 2 servers sort the sync.

    Nice bit is it detects directory moves as renames which are then a breeze. And the data is all mine :-)

    Yoy can also use it on say laptops for out & about stuff.

    Affa to run backups as it just stores changes so can choose what to restore, or rise a whole server (plus the usual usb/off site stuff)

    No I don't have loads of users, but equally I have never had any problems with it.... it just works.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possible dumb question alert! How do these Sync systems work to keep track of changes? Would it be possible or reasonable to have them work similarly to a version control system or maybe they already do? I then that might minimize the traffic between the customer device and the cloud and they should then be able rollback to previous datasets.

  16. Astara

    Will sync solutions ever use options already in place?

    I've been using IMAP(s) for my email for ... about 20 years. For the most part, I use a home server as my IMAP server, since most of my email reading happens there, but even using a VPN when working "in the office"/"onsite", I had few problems ... up until the advent of local-clients wanting everything downloaded so it could be "index" and cross-referenced.

    A few times having most of my 6.4G IMAP store re-downloaded into my "roaming profile", and I realized I needed to be wary of the newest and latest updates. Ended up still running Tbird 2.x because of 3.x's bad defaults and tendency to use those defaults settings on any new machine/user/account. Just 1 machine and I'd have at least 2 stores / user (local & network account) + more if I had test-users or used another login while reading email....

    Anyway, just try logging in or out with a 6.4G roaming profile and see how far you get (even with a 10Gb dedicated network connection) thanks many abuses with tiny I/O sizes and small MTU's...


    1. BenDwire Silver badge


      TB allows you to select which folders you want to index locally - Right-Click on a folder select Properties and untick the box next to "Include Messages in this folder in the Global Search Results". That seems to work for me.

  17. Ozzard

    I sync locally because I don't trust "cloud" providers

    I store "in the cloud" because I don't trust my local machine.

    But always remember what "the cloud" actually is: it should be called "other people's computers". I sync locally because I don't trust my cloud providers to be reliable and honest. As a result, I've never lost local data, even when a provider's gone bankrupt and suddenly my data isn't accessible to me any more. I've also never had to pay an unexpected bill because a provider has suddenly changed its T&Cs and held my data to ransom.

    Sure, use other people's computers. But do the risk assessment on how much you trust the other people, and their computers.

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