• Written by Lynn Greenwood
    2 June 2014

Well, if used correctly anyway.

This is the first in a new series of short posts by Lynn Greenwood, Akvo’s technical support guru-ess. It’s really intended for the Akvo team, but it might be of interest to other people too. Most of the IT systems Akvo uses are modern cloud-based and Mac/PC-based ones. So we’re all learning as we go. We did think of starting this series at the beginning. But that made it all a bit too hard work. So we decided to start somewhere in the middle. Because that’s usually how we all feel when dealing with IT. Illustration by Linda Leunissen and a little creative editing by Mark Charmer.

Some words about Dropbox, Selective Sync and Pausing Sync

The option to sync between different devices is there to make your life easier. To ensure that where ever you find yourself, your most needed files are available. In other words – only what is important.

Think of your laptop or computer as a wallet, your cloud account as your bank account and your files as cash. You don’t draw out all your cash at the beginning of the month and carry it around in a bulging wallet all month do you? (Or at least I hope you don’t.) You draw what you need and the rest remains in your account.

In the same way, if you don’t setup your sync applications to selectively sync files you use regularly, you are downloading all files on your account to your hard disk. This can result in your machine running out of hard disk space. This is a particular problem with people who use computers with small hard drives – the MacBook Air, for example.

The sync also uses much of your processing ability on your machine, and eats up your internet bandwidth, just because it has to sync each file every time it connects. Before making changes to your previously synced setup, it is good practice to ‘pause syncing’ as the applications tend to get confused when trying to sync while big changes are being made. Don’t forget to restart syncing once you’re done.

It’s also worth remembering that your computer will sync files when you turn it back on, at the start of the day for example. So if you fire up your computer for a Skype call – the Akvo Monday morning call perhaps – again think about pausing sync so Skype doesn’t have to compete with your Dropbox sync. This particularly applies if a whole team turns up in, say, the Ouagadougo office, open their computers at once and connect to the wifi, while you’re trying to do a video chat with Amsterdam on the single broadband line.

Mobile sync applications, such as Dropbox (or Google Drive) for iOS or Android, only download specific files you request to ‘download’ or have set as ‘starred’ for offline use.

For step-by-step information on how to set up selective sync please check Dropbox’s ‘How do I select which folders to sync to my computer?‘ or Google ‘Choose what syncs to your computer