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SEW and Cloud Storage

Hello All!

Have a couple of questions on using SEW with cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox. I have seen several adamant warnings against this practice as it could lead to corrupted projects.

Now, to be fair, I was away from SEW for a little while and only recently came back. However, since I’ve been back, I’ve been using Google Drive as my main storage for SEW projects. I haven’t had any issues.

What causes SEW projects to become corrupted? Couldn’t any corrupted projects be recovered through the cloud storage’s versioning system?

As far as I am aware, the problem isn’t DropBox itself – I am under the impression that a single user using DropBox from a single computer won’t have any problems(but please, everyone, feel free to correct me if I am wrong).

AFAIAA, the real problems with DropBox come if you try to access the same Smartedit files from two different computers.

I can quite see how this would be the case if all the control files/software are resident on your main computer: but if that really is the case, it begs the question of whether it would be feasible to put all the control files in the same place as the text data, so that you can pick up both the text and the control information remotely.

Or have I got exactly the wrong end of the stick here? Certainly, for the moment I would want to emphasise the warnings I have received: don’t use SmartEdit with DropBox.

John is correct. The problems with using cloud storage as your working location for a project can occur when you work on the project on more than one device.

A SmartEdit Writer project contains a database at its centre and many files — one for each scene. If your Dropbox or Google Drive instance on one PC fails to synch before you open the project and start work on a second PC, or if you have the project open on more than one PC at the same time, the databases and files will differ, and once that happens they can then never be brought back together.

In a case like this you could find yourself in a situation where Google Drive has attempted to merge the two different projects, leading to one scene on one PC overwriting another scene on the second PC. Your project database might not match your project files.

This is one of those situations where everything works fine until the day it doesn’t. 99 times out of 100 you’ll remember to close your project on PC 1 and ensure it synced before opening on PC 2. But there will be that one time, where you’re in a hurry and close the lap top quickly, the sync doesn’t happen… Or you open the project on PC 2 while it’s still open on PC 1. And then you lose work, or even worse, find that your project won’t open.

Regarding the versioning system in your Cloud folder, for this to work you would need to know precisely which version of each file inside the SmartEdit Writer project to roll back to — there can easily be hundreds or thousands of files. And even this would not help if you have two instances of a project, each containing new scenes and work.

Use Google Drive if you wish, but be aware that there’s no support for this. If you run into difficulty, we won’t be able to help you fix it. You’ll have to roll back to a backup you took earlier.

Yeah, I’ve not had any problems with OneDrive. I feel comfortably backed up so it is unlikely I would lose a project. As a retired DBA, paranoia is my middle name! But if I do lose something important, I’m comfortable taking the blame! But my mobile needs are also only a couple times a year!

Common sense, and a good disaster recovery plan is required by everyone. If it would hurt to lose it, then it needs to be properly backed up.

You haven’t referred to the implied question in my posting: wouldn’t it be possible for all the control databases to be stored alongside the stored text data, so that now you could have the entire contents of SEW in the cloud, and could get to them whether you were at home, on a laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone?

I hate to say it, but I have had some data loss using SEW on Dropbox. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the same with Drive (I use both, so I should test it sometime).

I think what happened was that there was sufficient time delay between some fragment of my document getting onto the cloud for SEW to perform another of its unpredictable (by the user) write operations. I may have been rapidly flipping back and forth between several scenes, too, and I type very fast at times. But I suddenly realized that some text was missing here and there, and since I’d been furiously editing all over the place there was no way to determine what might have been corrupted. I beat a hasty retreat, as they say.

I use other programs in this way all the time, on both Dropbox and Drive, and haven’t noticed anything, but that doesn’t guarantee nothing ever happened. SEW uses a semaphore system to protect a local file store (project) from being clobbered when one instance of SEW has opened it, but it’s not too hard to imagine a slow day on the interweb tubing, when a project gets closed or a connection gets severed before everything in the cloud is up to date. My fiber optic feed is usually close to 100MHz, but some intermediate segment of tubing might just happen to be an old bit of garden hose, and with all those little files being opened and closed as I edit wildly, I think a more elaborate scheme would be needed to guarantee data integrity.

So I caution anyone considering the cloud as storage for SEW projects to avoid thrashing about, and always allow plenty of time (usually a few seconds should do) before and after opening and closing scenes. And perhaps click that pale blue 3.25" disc icon whenever it’s not grey.

I wonder, sometimes, if scenarios like these are part of Google’s inspiration to save every few seconds, rather than every minute or so, but surely they must be using a much more complex scheme to protect documents being edited over potentially sluggish routes by numerous people same-ul-time-eously.


That already is the case. All files, databases, etc. are stored in the project folder, wherever that might be. But that makes no difference if a problem occurs with syncing to the Cloud. The term ‘cloud’ is a little deceptive, as it suggests you’re opening and working on your project on the cloud itself, which is not true. Your Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive folder that you work on is always a local copy on your PC that is then backup up to the cloud. You never actually work on the cloud – always locally, on a single PC. Which is why there can be problems with more than one PC, as the local copies then differ if there are any delays or hiccups when syncing – as Alan discovered.

Hi jbrown!

I use Google’s Backup and Sync. I put my SEW files on a USB, but I don’t back up the documents of my project. I find that when my project becomes rather large (>20,00 words), Backup and Sync slow down and takes longer sync my project with the cloud. However, what I do is cloud store the backups of my project as SEW gives you the option to automatically make backups of your work. I cloud store these backups, as they are zipped files and don’t cause Backup and Sync to slow down. That way, even if I do lose my project I have the backup stored in the cloud and can simply unzip the file on a new computer and viola! Project saved.