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Remote Synchronization

ZSKSoft Synchronizer is capable of synchronizing folders on the computers that are not directly connected with one another and communicate only via e-mail or even the floppies. This can be useful in quite a few cases - for instance, to synchronize with remote developers. But let us study a simpler but obvious case: synchronizing between the home and the office computers.


Synchronization Process

So, imagine you have got a computer at the office and a computer at home, and you want to maintain your project on both of the computers in the synchronized state. For that purpose, each of the computers has ZSync installed, and the required synchronization scheme is created. One of the points in the scheme is the project folder; the other one is a remote point that describes the remote computer state.

When you finished your work at the office, you open the scheme and click the Synchronize button. ZSync sends the changes to the remote point: the synchronization plan is added with the triangles that reflect the ongoing process and the symbols behind that display what was sent. There the program generates the update file. It's a regular ZIP archive but with the .ZSyncUpd extension; it should contain the changed files and the auxiliary information. This is the file you should send via e-mail or carry on a diskette or flash carrier to your home computer.

When you get home, open that file. ZSync will start and will display what has changed on the office computer. By clicking the Synchronize button, you will move these changes to the project folder. When you are done with your work, you start ZSync and click the Synchronize button again. The program will generate the new update file that you will need to carry to the office computer. This really reminds the case where we synchronized several computers with a laptop, which was described in the other chapter. Except, instead of the laptop, here we use the update file (.ZSyncUpd). Just as it was in the other case, ZSync carefully watches the changes to make sure the synchronization is safe and reliable. If leaving the work you have forgotten to synchronize or have lost the diskette on the way home or your e-mail stopped working all of the sudden - don't be frightened: these are all optimum situations for ZSync, and they are not going to cause a failure. The only recommendation for that is try to not edit the files that have been changed at the office; otherwise you will have to merge these changes. As far as everything else - work as usual and then bring the new update file home to synchronize. ZSync will check it for the possible conflict and resolve it if necessary.

If you have sent the update file via e-mail, and it hasn't been delivered, you can simply send the new update file with the new changes - the old changes will be included in it too. If you forgot which computer you e-mailed the last update from, and which one of them has the last project state - fearlessly generate the update file on any of the computers and e-mail it to the other one; ZSync will figure everything out automatically. Each pack is marked with a number, and each change will keep being mailed until the program receives the delivery confirmation report. That's why, by the way, you are recommended to not forget bringing the reply packs even if you haven't made any changes on the other computer: having received the confirmation, ZSync will "know" that the changes have been delivered; otherwise it will keep sending it over and over again. Even if you haven't changed anything, click the Synchronize button, and the program will generate the pack with the delivery confirmation report for the last incoming update pack.


Initial Synchronization

In the example above we have studied how the synchronization goes when the process is properly worked out. Now, let's study the initial stage of the process, which is creation and introduction of the remote points to one another.

Creation of a remote point goes as usual: add it to the scheme and configure its properties. From the beginning give meaningful names to this and the other computer and the folders to be synchronized; e.g.: Home, Office, and My Project. These names should match the ones in the synchronization scheme on the remote computer: ZSync watches to make sure that someone else's update pack doesn't accidentally get to the remote point. The last property (Initial Sync mode) defines what is going to be sent to the remote computer the first time: the files themselves (Send Files) or just their properties (Send Descriptions).

By selecting Send Files, you will send the entire project to the remote computer; this will let the other party get to the synchronized state immediately. In the Send Descriptions mode, the program will only send the list of files and folders included in the project and the files' properties. The update pack size will be much smaller, but if during the comparison you find out that some files' newer version has been left on this computer, the remote point will be unable to synchronize immediately. ZSync will automatically send inquiry for such files' contents and when you return there, you will generate the next pack, and these files will be added to it.

While the initial synchronization goes on, you don't have to pause your regular work. Just remember the main principle: arrived-synchronized-worked-synchronized. If you brought the initial pack home, first run ZSync and see which files have matched, which ones are missing, and which ones you will have to bring the next time from the other computer and then click the Synchronize button, so that ZSync saves the state (i.e. carry out the step of "arrived-synchronized"). The remote synchronization is a pretty complicated process; ZSync does its best to make it easier for you but it is not all-powerful, therefore try to always be accurate, for it's not so hard - then the program will be able to help you out should you face any difficulties.

Nevertheless, we seem to have digressed. So, having created and configured the scheme, you will send the first pack to the remote computer. There you will open it - ZSync will start and see that there is no scheme for the pack with this name and suggest you to create a new scheme. You, certainly, accept, and ZSync creates the scheme and immediately configures the remote point's properties. All you have to do there is specify path to the project folder in the other point's properties. After that, ZSync will compare the points and suggest the synchronization plan; you will review it, verify it, and click the Synchronize button. Basically, the rest is the same as it was before.

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