Friday, December 30, 2022

Transmit Instead of File Sharing

Accidental Tech Podcast:

It’s 2022 and we still haven’t solved email, batteries, or sharing files between two computers.

Sean Heber:

I really hate local network file sharing. It never seems to work right.

I setup a folder to share on my mac. My computer shows up in the Network section of Finder on every other mac in the house, but when I open on it, it just sits there seemingly trying to load and eventually times out. The list of shared folders never even appear. Using the “Connect As..” button also just times out eventually and I don’t even get a login prompt.

His specific issue may now be solved, but I’ve noticed a lot of flakiness with File Sharing over the last few years. Sometimes, the other computer just doesn’t show up in Finder. Sometimes the alias I’ve been using to access a folder on it stops working. Sometimes the alias fails because it’s trying to log in using the account of a different user.

Copying lots of photo files can take a long time because, after selecting them and initiating the drag, Finder wants to load a lot of data—I guess to generate previews. I have to keep holding down the mouse button while it does this because otherwise it will just freeze again the next time I try to start the drag.

Several versions ago, SMB transfers between my Macs got a lot slower, and they remain slow. So are Screen Sharing transfers. AirDrop is sometimes faster but is usually inconvenient for me because I tend to want to “pull” files from my main Mac; AirDrop requires me to physically go to the other Mac to “push” them.

I’ve settled on using Transmit instead. It’s great about remembering my favorite folders and login info. It’s convenient to be able to configure which local folder should be associated with each remote one. I can even leave tabs open for different Macs and come back a week or two later with it remembering what I was doing. The main limitation that I’ve run into, compared with Finder, is that there’s no way to move a file from the remote server to the local Mac. I have to remember to go back and delete it after the download has completed.


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For the most part, I don't set up file sharing anymore. It's too tedious and error prone on my home network. I've been using NextCloud to keep my various devices in sync with files that are needed and it works like a charm. Including remotely over a VPN.

I wish more people knew about Syncthing. I keep four computers in sync and it just works (and doesn’t feast on my MacBook battery like Resilio Sync, which I’d previously used before finding ST).

I use Resilio sync instead. It pretty much just works.

I’ve been mostly using Screen Sharing to copy files between Macs. It allows me to pull files down from a remote Mac by controlling the Mac remotely. The drag and drop experience is really nice.

What protocol are you using in Transmit to connect to the other Macs?

@Andrew I have the other Macs set up with remote login and then connect using SFTP.

SyncThing is awesome, if you can use it. And in general, cache locally where you can (even if you have to use a client for a proprietary cloud service, like iCloud). Also for preference, don't use a remote filesystem over a slow link; use a less complex, preferably open and standardised protocol, instead, when you need to access a resource remotely.

ForkLift moves files from one machine to another. It's also fast and supports bookmarks.

@Michael: the problem with using SFTP is it doesn’t support extended attributes so you will lose metadata associated with a file including things like Finder tags.

@Gordon That is not a problem for me with these one-off transfers. If I need to preserve metadata I use rsync -E.

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