Dropbox should be used for backup purpose only.
Dropbox copies the file on to the computer from the dropbox server, usually it is copied to a folder in my documents. You will have multiple copies of the file and this can cause incomplete data in all files with no file having the correct data. The file is opened from the users local folder which may not match the file on the dropbox server. Dropbox copies files as soon as possible but that is based on internet connection and the number of files that need to be copied.
If both computers tried to write back to dropbox at the same time, dropbox will create a new file conflicted file. You will have two files with different names in dropbox. Dropbox adds conflicted to the filename. The data is only update in the file when you save or commit the record (local file) then dropbox has to upload these updates. It can take a long time for the file to get updated depending on why files are being sync to dropbox.
Dropbox does not sync the data of your files. It really does not sync files it will overwrite files and you will get files with different data.
Because you can does not mean you should. The likelihood of corruption is very high. If you like periodically rebuilding your solution from scratch (the only 100% sure method of recovery from corruption) then by all means do it.
I think it's asking for trouble. If you're not careful you could loose data.
With Dropbox usually last one done with the file wins and all the files will be overwritten by the latest version.
You can't merge the changes.
If the clients don't have / want a server, advice hosting in the cloud. It's not that expensive these days and a far safer option.
Otherwise set up network sharing and have one user always serve the file and let others connect remotely.
Thank you all for your replies.
I always also discourage "networking" over the Drobpox, and as I see you all do the same.
I only use it for backup a file copy using the save a copy script step.
The save a copy step can cause issue with dropbox if used from different computers. You have to make sure that the files is closed before opening the file on a different computer.
Also note. Because of the way Dropbox works, there is a large potential for corrupting the file. Been there, it's not fun.
I'm sorry to say that I don't agree with you, Joshua. I use Dropbox for a long time (> 2-3 years) to "sync" my files from my iMac to my MacBook Pro and haven't met any severe problems yet, especially no currupted files or whatsoever. Maybe I was lucky enough or maybe I was careful enough.
The only issues I had were due to my own incapability to check wether the files had already been updated or not, so Dropbox created some conflict files.
So as a subsummary of my experience I would say: storing your FMP files in Dropbox is very usefull (and very comfortable)
a.) if you dont use your files in a team but only as a single person
b.) if you use your files on more than 1 machine (not at the same time)
c.) (and this is most important) if you use your files carefully, alway having in mind, that the files MUST be closed and the syncing process MUST be finished before starting on the 2. machine.
Agree or not. Dropbox alters the file. That process is dangerous for the file. True, 95% of the time, if you wait for the files to finish a complete sync, you will be fine. But there are dozens of other scenarios outside of your control that can cause the file to never be restored to a working state.
You have been lucky. That's all I'll say. I do use Dropbox. But everything is zipped first. And I NEVER work from Dropbox on a live/production file. I always copy it to a local Desktop folder and then work from there...and I have a "Save" script setup to push the copy of the file to the Dropbox folder.
Note: I'm not against the use of Dropbox. But don't open your files while they are in the Dropbox folder.
Dropbox does not alter the file, dropbox uploads / downloads the file to a folder on your computer.
Agreed, if you don't want to take a chance on losing your work don't open your file from any folder that is synced with dropbox or any other file syncing services.
Dropbox does not really sync your files it overwrites files and the very reason you can loose your work.
Not according to my conversation with Dropbox. It adds metadata to the file.
On top of that, Dropbox can on occasion lock or begin syncing the file while it's open.
Agree with Joshua.
This is what I do too to all my users:
Original file anywhere on the computer.
Save as a copy in the Dropbox for backup.
I even don't copy the file unless being modified from another location (which I rarely do) => Dropbox used only for backup
I agree with most of josh statements. I don't think dropbox modifies the files. I have email dropbox support to verify this information. Whatever information dropbox provides, I will post here. It is Important to know.
Here is the response I received from dropbox support
Oct 13, 7:24 AM:
Thank you for taking the time to write in.
Dropbox does not modify or remove your files. The functionality of the Dropbox application is limited to watching your Dropbox folder for changes and syncing any changes that occur across your connected devices
In regards to Filemaker in particular however, there may be some errors if used directly from the Dropbox storage, as Dropbox cannot natively open these files.
In general, we recommend that people do not sync live databases with Dropbox. Most databases have remote access methods anyway, so you don't need to sync the live database. You can sync saved snapshots, however, with no issues.
That said, you can use Dropbox to share the data, but you need to take great care and understand how file syncing works.
Most programs create a "file lock" on any file that they are using, and this lock will prevent Dropbox from syncing the file. In some cases you must fully quit the application before Dropbox can sync the data. You must then make sure Dropbox has finished syncing before trying to access the file from any computer.
If you are sharing the data between computers you must NOT run the application on more than one computer at a time. You will generate file conflicts and other problems.
Thus, the pattern needs to be:
1. Let files sync
2. Start application
3. Save files
4. Quit application
5. Repeat on different computers.
I hope this information helps!