Synchronizing a single file with SpiderOak

SpiderOak makes synchronizing directories easy, but synchronizing an individual file takes a little work.

SpiderOak’s synchronization is done at the directory level. This makes the common case of synchronizing directories easy, but complicates synchronizing an individual file. The way around this is to symbolically link to the file from within a new directory, and synchronize the new directory.

TODO: Update the below, which was written with the limitations of Windows XP in mind. Since Windows Vista, NTFS finally has symbolic links (welcome to the 1970s, Microsoft!), so the below should now be as easy to do on Windows as on Linux. In particular, it should no longer be necessary to configure Windows applications to use non-default locations for files.

Many system files are expected to be in a certain place and so shouldn’t be moved without taking special measures. On Linux you can create a symbolic link from the original to the new location; it’s as if the single file is in two places at once. This does not work on Windows: yes, there are shortcuts, but they do not work for this purpose. Some software is configurable and allows you to declare non-default locations for certain files.

Both of the above tricks are illustrated with the task of synchronizing Opera Mail‘s contacts between a Linux and Windows computer. As usual, it’s easy on Linux and harder on Windows.

On the Linux box
Close Opera, then:

$ cd .opera/
$ mkdir sync
$ mv contacts.adr sync/.
$ ln -s sync/contacts.adr contacts.adr

Open Opera and confirm that contacts work. In the SpiderOak client, add the new directory ~/.opera/sync/ to your backup set.

On the Windows box
Windows’ shortcuts are useless for this purpose, so we rely on Opera’s ability to set a non-default location for contacts.adr. (We could have done this on the Linux box, too; I’m trying to illustrate different methods here.) In the file manager, go to the default location for contacts.adr, %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Opera\Opera\. (Keep in mind that %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\ is a hidden directory.) Create the directory sync here, and move contacts.adr into the new directory. In Opera, open the preferences editor at opera:config and find the MailBox section. Change the location of contacts.adr to its new location, %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Opera\Opera\sync\. Save your changes, close and reopen Opera, and confirm that contacts work.

In the SpiderOak client, add the new directory %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Opera\Opera\sync\ to your backup set. Once it has been added, set up a new sync:

  • Name: Opera_contacts
  • Description: Opera Mail’s contacts list to synchronize across all Opera installations
  • Sync folder 1: (Linux) ~/.opera/sync
  • Sync folder 2: (Windows) %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Opera\Opera\sync\

…and wait for good things to happen.

These notes refer to SpiderOak 4.7.9948 on Linux and Windows, and were last updated 22 September 2012.


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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