Sync folders between two M1 Macs

Resilio Sync? Chronosync?

What is the most trouble-free app to locally sync several folders (Documents, Desktop, Downloads, Movies, Music) between two Macs? Currently iCloud Photos syncs the Photos Library. I also have a Dropbox folder that syncs via the Dropbox service.

Other posts in this forum mention Resilio Sync and Chronosync. Are there advantages of one over the other? Are there any pitfalls to be aware of?

A new Mac Studio is being set up as my primary computer. This will be backed up to attached disk drives (SSD - Carbon Copy Cloner and spinning HDD - Time Machine). There will also be cloud backup with Backblaze.

I would like to locally sync the folders listed above to a 14” M1 Max MacBook Pro. This is usually connected to my local network by wifi but can connect by ethernet when needed for large file transfers.

My intention is to work mostly on the Mac Studio, saving all files locally with local and cloud backup as described. I would like the freedom to take the MacBook elsewhere in my home or occasionally travel away from home with the expectation that any files created in or downloaded to either computer would be quickly synced to the other whenever both are on my local network.

ResilioSync and ChronoSync have somewhat different applications in terms of folder syncing.

ResilioSync provide as a “Dropbox-like” experience, eg, real-time syncing of folders, which I think is closer to what you want here.

ChronoSync provides a scheduled sync service, that does not run continuously, but rather runs on a determined schedule. You could of course run ChronoSync frequently, eg every hour, but that is not the same as monitoring folders as ResilioSync will do and keeping them continuously synchronized.

If you will use the laptop infrequently, you could just plan to run ChronoSync when you start up the laptop and when you are done, but I think that will be an inconvenient and error-prone approach.

I would suggest ResilioSync is the better tool for this particular purpose.


Excellent information, thank you. Either of those types of sync would probably work for me.

Would ResilioSync’s real-time syncing be intrusive, have a heavy footprint, use excessive system resources, or be subject to problems with macOS updates? I’m thinking here of our recent experience with Dropbox and it’s problems with macOS 12.3 update. My understanding is that Dropbox achieves its real-time syncing by imbedding itself deeply within macOS, sometimes resulting in problems with macOS updates or excessive use of system resources. Would you expect ChronoSync’s scheduled-only sync result in a lighter footprint in a macOS system or be less prone to problems with macOS updates?

Would ResiioSync’s real-time syncing conflict with Dropbox real-time syncing? I would not try to sync the same folders with both services, of course.

I don’t have a good way to assess ResilioSync vs ChronoSync in terms of support for MacOS upgrades. As ChronoSync is a MacOS - only product, I suspect they would be more on top of upgrades compared to a multi-platform product such as ResilioSync, but I cannot base that guess on objective data.

I have not used ResilioSync in some time as I have been using SynologyDrive, but when I previously used it, I did not find its footprint to be an issue, and it was very reliable for me.

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ResiloSync seems to do fine with individual files but I get syncing issues with packages.

You may want to take a look at this (it’s open source, so no hidden gimmick):

I have only started using it, so I can report much in terms of personal experience.

You can schedule Chronosync based on a number of things, time, when a volume mounts, etc. or when a file changes •. If you decide to go with CS I’d suggest you also look at ChronoAgent. It’s more reliable than a file share and speeds up file transfers.

• Using a file’s modification date as the criteria for determining whether or not a file has changed is by far the most common and universal method for detecting file changes since the operating system automatically updates a file’s modification date when data is written to it. However, there is some information about files that aren’t stored within the file itself but are necessary to synchronize. This information is known as metadata and it covers pieces of information such as who owns the file, its access permissions, its Finder color tag and whether or not its file extension is hidden, to name a few. ChronoSync can detect changes to a file’s metadata. Exactly which metadata ChronoSync should monitor for changes are user definable and are called triggers.

You can mix and match which attribute changes will trigger a synchronization. This is useful in situations where you may simply not care about changes to certain metadata or when you are synchronizing to a device that does not support certain metadata and/or cannot support it reliably. An example would be a file server for which there is no way to maintain the same owner/group membership as your local machine."

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Both of these recommended; Chronosync and Carbon Copy Capture (CCC). Chronosync is one-time purchase no charge for future upgrades. CCC “looks” more friendly but less options than Chronosync. Already on your computer, thus “free”, is rsync which the mother of all sync software.

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