Syncing Bug

Jeff Landon's Avatar

Jeff Landon

06 May, 2018 08:01 PM

I sync MD between devices using Dropbox Connection. Syncing with MD this way has & does always work faultlessly for me & is one of the reasons I am an enthusiastic user.

However, I’ve noticed recently that syncing stops working completely if you restore a previously exported backup. I know that initially the import has syncing disabled (although I believe this is a recent change) & you have to reset it. But no matter what I do, syncing via Dropbox Connection is broken. You can re authorize it repeatedly with Dropbox & although all the parameters are correct, sync still does not work.

The only way I’ve found to restore full syncing again, is to copy the original dataset back to the MD documents folder. Then syncing is fully functioning again.

As an experiment, I’ve dug out several old retired laptops & put MD on all of them. Windows, Mac & Linux. plus IOS & Android ipads & phones. Using Dropbox Connection, all these devices sync perfectly, usually in less than one minute.

But when I restore any of them from a previously saved Export, syncing is broken again, even on the computer that generated the saved backup. All the content is there intact, just the sync feature fails to work.

If I zip the dataset myself, then copy it to another device & unzip it ready to use, syncing works perfectly. These backups are very important to all of us, particularly for those who bought via the Apple store who have no option other than Dropbox Connection. I think that this is quite a serious bug that has only appeared recently. My backups now are made by zipping my dataset manually, as I can no longer trust MD to make backup files that will restore all functions.

MD 2017.7.1
Windows 10 Pro 1709
Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.4
Linux Mint 17 & Ubuntu 16.04

Jeff

  1. 1 Posted by derekkent23 on 07 May, 2018 08:14 AM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.

    Reading your post and doing my own testing I believe Moneydance’s EXPORT BACKUP and RESTORE FROM BACKUP are working correctly without any bugs.

    Let me explain.

    The reason to restore from a backup is that something has happened to your data and to fix the issue and get back to before the problem occurred you want to restore from a backup.

    So, the last thing you want to happen is when you restore from a backup that your data is corrupted by data being resynced back into your data set.

    Hence when you restore from backup Moneydance does two things.

    First sets syncing method to don’t sync.

    Second sets up a completely separate sync folder in the Dropbox syncing folder “.moneydancesync”

    This way even if you select a syncing method to restart syncing bad data is not synced back to your restored data set.

    To sync other devices, including computers it necessary to reconnect to the new syncing folder using FILE – NEW – OPEN SYNCED FILE. This way the integrity of your data from the restored backup is protected.

    This is why you should only use backups created by Moneydance, don’t depend on restoring data from copies of your data set, be it from an automatic backup system or a manual created compressed copy your data set.

    Also, you may want to consider using Dropbox Folder rather than Dropbox Connection as a syncing method, its more flexible. It’s possible to lose data if you lose your internet connection when running Dropbox Connection
    Dropbox Folder requires you to download and install Dropbox Client on all your computers so you so you have a copy of the Dropbox folders on your computers.

    The following is an explanation given by Sean the software developer regarding these two syncing methods, Dropbox Folder and Dropbox Connection.

    “With "Dropbox Connection" Moneydance uses the Dropbox API to talk to the Dropbox service directly. So, you don't need to have Dropbox client actually installed on your computer, but you do need to be online when Moneydance is running in order for changes to be synced. With "Drobox Folder" Moneydance will just read and write files to your Dropbox folder on your computer, which means that you need to have Dropbox client installed and running, but you don't need to be online in order for Moneydance to read and write the changes.”

    Hope this helps

  2. 2 Posted by jeff on 07 May, 2018 03:34 PM

    jeff's Avatar

    Thanks for your reply Derek.

    All I can say is that it never used to display this behaviour. In my early days of using MD I naturally made quite a few entry mistakes. I was always able to do a simple restore & syncing continued to work as before.

    I think the behaviour changed sometime in an earlier 2017 version. I do remember that around that time I would always disconnect from the internet in order to prevent the syncing back of erroneous entries as you describe. So my solution then, was to delete the online Dropbox folder & let MD recreate the sync folder, never a bad idea anyway, as I’ve found the dataset often then shrinks dramatically.

    I’m obviously aware that one can use a local Dropbox Folder, I have played with it. But in my opinion it seems ludicrous to duplicate your entire 2 gigs (I’m getting close to my free online data limit) across several MD computers just to sync, what is after all a tiny MD sync file.

    Unless I’m missing something fundamental, even if I were to use a local sync folder, there would be a need to delete the sync folder, otherwise you would immediately sync with the erroneous data.

    I use Dropbox as a data store, not to duplicate everything. After all, my iPad & iPhone don’t have my entire Dropbox contents duplicated, but MD syncs faultlessly & almost immediately. What about the poor folk who bought via the Apple store who can’t use Dropbox folders.

    Ah well, I think I will continue to regularly zip up my Dataset knowing that I can quickly get back to syncing without any issues. I think if this was a recent planned change to the way restore works, it was, in my opinion a retrograde one.

    Thanks again,

    Jeff

  3. 3 Posted by jeff on 07 May, 2018 05:55 PM

    jeff's Avatar

    Derek,
    My original “bug report” was not about the pros & cons of Dropbox Folder versus Dropbox Connection.

    The problem is that when you reset the sync method, it fails to communicate at all with Dropbox Connection, no matter what you do. Surely that is a bug that needs fixing.

    Jeff

  4. 4 Posted by derekkent23 on 07 May, 2018 06:44 PM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.

    You are correct in that when 2017 was first released and you did a restore from backup the sync method was not set to don’t sync. A new sync folder in Dropbox was not set up necessitating the need to start syncing other devices from scratch. The old sync folder was used and syncing just started again. Many users fell into the trap of bad data being synced into the restored data set. Sean the lead software developer decided this approach to be wrong and I agree with him, hence the method now being used that protects the integrity of a restored data set.

    I use Dropbox Folder and after restoring from a backup on my primary computer haven’t had any problems setting up syncing. Disconnect mobile devices including phones. Set syncing method etc on primary computer which creates a new syncing folder in Dropbox “.moneydancesync” folder. Start syncing on second computer FILE – NEW – OPEN SYNCED FILE etc. Then sync mobile devices. You don’t have to, but I tidy thing up by deleting the old sync folder in Dropbox “.moneydancsync” and delete the old data sets.

    Yesterday after your post I ran a test setting up syncing using Dropbox Connection. Then restoring from a primary computer backup and starting syncing from scratch. I didn’t encounter any problems. It just took longer than using Dropbox folder due to the authorization steps.
    if you cannot set up syncing again after restoring a primary backup can you detail the steps your are following, I may be able to see were you are going wrong.

  5. 5 Posted by jeff on 07 May, 2018 08:00 PM

    jeff's Avatar

    Derek,
    The scenario is this, syncing normally works faultlessly for me across many devices with Dropbox Connection as I’ve said.

    However, when I go on holiday I like to take a small Windows 10 laptop with me. Now this laptop has not been used for several months, so the MD data set is well & truly out of date. As you’ve already described there can be a problem re introducing this laptop to the sync family.

    On my main Windows 10 PC, I do a File>Export Backup & save to a USB stick. On the Laptop I’m going to take away with me. I do File > Restore from Backup from the USB stick. This works fine, when I look at the laptop, everything is present & correct all nicely updated.

    Then I go to switch on sync and reset it to my Dropbox Connection. My user name & password are remembered. Click OK & it then says it’s doing a sync. But nothing happens.

    If I do a test transaction on this laptop, nothing is sent to Dropbox, even though it says it is syncing. Nor will it receive anything from my main PC. Even though my other PCs & Macs respond more or less instantly to input on the main PC, in fact even my iphone updates all the other devices if I do a quick test transactions, except the Little Laptop is left out of the sync group.

    However, if I just copy my Dataset from main PC & put it on the little laptop, Bingo, I’m back in business & everything syncs perfectly all round. So that’s how I quickly get back in business. From then onwards the laptop syncs beautifully.

    So what am I doing wrong with the Backup/Restore routine?

    Many Thanks.

    Jeff

  6. 6 Posted by derekkent23 on 07 May, 2018 08:51 PM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.

    When you do a backup and restore, then FILE- SYNCING, change syncing method to Dropbox Connection, a new syncing folder is set up within the Dropbox Folder “.moneydancesync”. All your other devices are syncing to the old sync folder in “.moneydancesync”. There is no connection between these two sync folders. Hence the computer with the restored from backup data set can’t sync to the other devices. This is how it’s meant to work. When you do a restore from backup from a primary data set you are meant to sync all other device from scratch, so they use the new sync folder and the old sync folder is redundant.

    Copying your primary data set to another computer so you end up with two primary computers is something I haven’t considered. The design intension is you only have one primary computer and then sync the other computers, secondary computers to it. Hay if this unconventional approach works for you and you haven’t hit any bad side effects then OK.

    However, my approach would be when holiday time comes around to delete the data set on the small windows 10 computer without opening Moneydance. Then start Moneydance which should open in the welcome to Moneydance window then, CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT SET - OPEN SYNCED FILE and follow the normal syncing process for a second computer. My only concern would be if the holiday internet connection was not reliable. As I explained in an earlier post the Dropbox Folder method can still work even when you lose an internet connection. The data is synced from your local Dropbox folder then to the cloud when the internet connection is reestablished and no data is lost.

  7. 7 Posted by jeff on 08 May, 2018 05:49 AM

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    Thanks for the above, it would appear that I’m not necessarily doing anything wrong & certainly copying the data set is much quicker/easier than linking all the other devices to a new sync file, that would be tedious. Because I’ve been intrigues by this, I’ve got MD on more devices than I care to reveal !

    However, I would like to challenge something you say. When I am off line & using Dropbox Connection, nothing is lost. Any manual data input is saved to the local Dataset on that device. Next time I am on line MD will sync with Dropbox even if it is a week later.

    This business of primary secondary devices. I must confess that I don’t fully understand. As I see it, when all of my devices are in sync, they are all equal devices. If I change something on the tenth device, say my iPhone, for that brief period it is the master device of the group. But when the syncing is complete all the other devices are of equal status. That’s more of an observation of how syncing actually seems to work in practice than anything else.

    Perhaps this is the main difference between how Dropbox Folders & Connection work. But certainly the repeated comments that things are lost if you are off line when using the Connection method is just not correct. Both methods rely on the internet to complete a sync to other devices.

    Jeff

  8. 8 Posted by derekkent23 on 08 May, 2018 08:01 AM

    derekkent23's Avatar

    I am not support staff, just a user.

    I don’t use Dropbox Connect so my comments about the possible loose of data was based on the comments of the lead software developer Sean as follows.

    “With "Dropbox Connection" Moneydance uses the Dropbox API to talk to the Dropbox service directly. So, you don't need to have Dropbox client actually installed on your computer, but you do need to be online when Moneydance is running in order for changes to be synced. With "Drobox Folder" Moneydance will just read and write files to your Dropbox folder on your computer, which means that you need to have Dropbox client installed and running, but you don't need to be online in order for Moneydance to read and write the changes.”

    If this is not the case, great.

    The first computer you set up to sync, is set up using FILE – SYNCING. Any other computer you add are synced using FILE – NEW – OPEN SYNCED FILE. This is the process outlined in this article http://help.infinitekind.com/kb/syncing-and-sharing-data/syncing-wi...

    The data set on any second computer is created automatically via the “.moneydancesync” folder in Dropbox. This data set is not identical to the primary data set by design. For example, you cannot set the syncing method to Don’t Sync under FILE – SYNCING. The approach you are using of copying your primary data set to other computers to sync is not the designer intended approach, but if it works for you, then it works for you.

  9. 9 Posted by jeff on 08 May, 2018 03:54 PM

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    Final comment from me…...

    It would appear that Sean’s programming, especially the syncing business, is far more flexible & versatile than even he gives it credit for, so I applaud him.

    I’m not sure if you use an iPad or phone, Apple or Android… but I think the program works & syncs brilliantly on those devices.

    In playing around with syncing on my numerous devices, it seems perfectly possible to use both Dropbox Folder & Connect at the same time on different PC’s. After all, if anyone is using the Folder method on their PC, but also uses the mobile Apps, they are by their very nature using both systems.

    Jeff

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