How I work in a Multi-OS World

In my computing life, I am OS agnostic with a lean towards OS X. But I work on XP computers (desktop & laptop) at work, I have a Macbook running OS X 10.5, Windows Vista via Bootcamp, Windows XP, Windows 7 & Ubuntu via VMFusion. At home I have a Vista box, a iMac running Os X 10.4, MacMini runing OS X 10.5, and EEEBox running Ubuntu. And finally, I have an iPhone. 

So how does one keep organized in such an environment? I want to simplify my computing as much as possible, so I have been working on this for years. Luckily, I am not the only one with this problem, as solutions have become available to fill this need. Here is a list of what I use and how I use it. 

Passwords: Password syncing can be difficult. I have three different solutions I run at the same time for different purposes. The first solution is my main Password managment system and I use the Open Source software KeePass. KeePass is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. And to keep all of the systems in sync, the encrypted database is stored via encrypted Dropbox folder so any change at one computer, will be changed for all since they all look at the Dropbox folder for the data. The second solution is syncing passwords in Firefox via Foxmarks (now Xmarks). The third solution is with 1Password for my Macs as I store the keychain in Dropbox similar to Keepass. Yes, I know I am being reduntant here as Keepass is really all that is needed for the computers, but I use 1Password to sync to my iPhone. Still waiting for iKeePass App to show in the iTunes store. 

Favorites/Bookmarks: I use Foxmarks (Xmarks). It is available for all Firefox (as Xmarks), IE and Safari, thus works in all 3 Operating Systems. This also stores them via a website, so if I am at my parents computer or anyone elses, I still have access. Working Documents & Shared folders: I have mentioned Dropbox already regarding password database centralization. This is an ideal solution for the day to day files and anything else that may need to be moved or shared between all platforms including access via iPhone

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Music and other Media: I use SugarSync for the backing up my digital media from all the platforms (including iPhone) except for Ubuntu. The ability to stream my music from SugarSync on the iPhone or purchase music from any computer and immediately have it available on all my computers is excellent. I did try JungleDisk and S3, but the syncing was slow and not reliable in OS X. It was my first solution for many of these issues, but could not keep up. Granted it was cheaper than SugarSync (only solution listed above that cost$ based upon how I am using it), but SugarSync and Dropbox are both blazing fast and reliable. I also tried MobileMe, but cancelled that mess. One word for MobileMe - CRAP. Related Posts by Me:
Cross Platform Syncing and

To Do Lists


Cross Platform Syncing

I am finally sick of JungleDisk & .Mac or MobileMe (I am up for renewal).  Jungledisk does not have native syncing abilities and seems to have trouble on my Macbook staying active when I change from Wifi to EVDO and back it does not like to re-mount the drive.  It is also difficult to update my music and picture files from computer to computer.  For example, when I upgraded a music track from DRM to non-DRM in iTunes, I had to manually replace it on each computer and on the online storage.  It is good for back up of each computer separately, but not for keeping one back up to use on all computers & share.


Dropbox Web Interface

I do use Dropbox, and would love it to be my one solution for everything, however, it has only one paid option for 50GB max.  Also, the files that are synced must all be in the My Dropbox folder on every computer. I would love a solution similar that would work on Windows, OS X, and my iPhone, as well as, not tied to a specific sync folder.  Thus I came across SugarSync. It has multiple paid options, thus I can upgrade as more space is needed, is accessible and managed from the web, windows, mac or iPhone, and you identify which folders you want to keep synced.


SugarSync Web Interface

Others I have tried or found are MobileMe - which just did not work,  Mozy - which I found cluncky on my Mac and lacking in sync like I wanted, Windows Live Mesh - worked well but only has a 5GB option currently.

There is a good chart comparing free online storage/sync solutions on Lifehacker here.

Pricing for Dropbox and SugarSync are as follows:

Dropbox = $9.99/mos or $99/yr for 50GB ($0.20/GB per mos)
SugarSync = $2.49/mos or 24.99/yr for 10GB ($0.25/GB per mos), $4.99/mos or 49.99/yr for 30GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $9.99/mos or 99.99/yr for 60GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $14.99/mos or 149.99/yr for 100GB ($0.15/GB per mos), and $24.99/mos or $249.99/yr for 250GB ($0.10/GB per mos).

Bottom line, I will use both for different reasons.  I will use the Free 2GB Dropbox for quick file sharing between computers and SugarSync as my online backup and sync of music, pictures, documents, etc...across all computers and iPhone.

If you have a good solution for you that is different, let me know!

Update - With SugarSync you can stream you audio as well.  This includes your iPhone.  Full access to all my music on the iPhone is excellent.



Favorite New Software and Service

Being a computer user that switches between Mac and Windows everyday, I am always searching for tools that will allow me to share information between the different computers, as well as platforms.  Over the last month I have drastically simplified this issue by the addition of Foxmarks and Dropbox.

Foxmarks is a Firefox add-on that originally syncs and backs up bookmarks.  Since I use Firefox as my primary browser on all computers, having them sync is important.  I use to use the Google Sync tool until it stop supporting the new Firefox browser, and in fact, Foxmarks does do this better than Google Sync did.   Recently Foxmarks added the ability to sync passwords as well.  I have had success with this on all of the computers except my office XP box.  It continues to ask for my PIN to sync passwords over and over.  This does not happen on my other XP/Vista/OS X computers however, so am unsure what the issue is?

Dropbox has been a great tool.  It syncs specific folders in real time very quickly so I can have my KeePass and KeePassX synced between all the computers, as well as, my IE favorites folder.

I find Dropbox faster and easier to use than JungleDisk, however, Dropbox has a 2GB limit.  So I do not use it to sync my music collection and the like.  I highly recommend Dropbox to anyone.