Put Database Files In a Sync Folder And Risk Data Corruption

Sync services such as those provided by companies like Dropbox, SugarSync, Boxnet, Skydrive are a great way to keep our files in sync across our computers and mobile devices. However certain types of files do not sync well and putting these files in a sync folder is a recipe for disaster.

While I am a great fan of sync services myself especially for photos, music and documents, I do not recommend using it for database files like MS Access, Quickbook Files, Dbase, Paradox etc. Never put these active or live data files in a sync folder with the intention that you are going to open it on another computer and resume work there. I have known quite a few who have tried with disastrous results that included loss of data and even corruption.

I did a test on one of these applications by placing the database in a sync folder. When I work from one computer, close the Application, wait a few minutes for syncing to complete then open it from another computer, it appears to work fine. Problems crop up the moment you forget to close the Application on the first computer and try to open it on the second computer. Things appear to work as normal on the 2nd computer and I was able to input ten records without any problems. However when I exited and reopen the database again, all new work done on this second computer was lost.

Database applications have file and record locking mechanism that simply don’t get along well with a Sync service. I would not put them in a Sync folder at all without first checking with the Application vendor and the Sync service provider.

Points to take away from this :

  • Don’t put any live Access, Quickbooks or any other database files in a Sync Folder
  • It’s okay to archive or make a backup of the database and put that in the sync folder for backup purposes. Just not your live working database.
  • It’s fine to put your pictures, music, videos, documents and other files in a sync folder. These files work very well in a sync service.