Portable Home Directories

OK…another question on current state of the art as my wife and I move out of the full time RV lifestyle and back into a normal house with full time high speed internet.

This one involves portable home directories. I know that this would require setup on my file server to manage them and handle the syncing tasks…but I’m trying to figure out how much of a pain in the rear they are on a day to day basis.

We each have a laptop for our daily driver…although my wife uses hers only once a week or so. My laptop home directory is about 125 GB, hers is somewhat less.

My thought was that…assuming it doesn’t become a pain or cause to much wasted syncing time…is that because we will be doing some international travel and only taking a single laptop with us for that in addition to iPads for most things that don’t involve gigabytes of DSLR photos…was to institute portable home directories on the mini that is our home server…thus syncing her home directory to my laptop. Syncing my home directory isn’t really necessary as we’ll be taking my laptop as the sole laptop instead of her MBA for travel…although syncing it would get a copy of my home on the server which will then be backed up to whatever cloud backup service I end up choosing. I’ve considered that maybe just copying her home from her laptop over to mine and then back for each travel period might be less trouble overall.

Currently…we each have both an admin and daily driver non admin account as well as a pair of other admin accounts…these account names and passwords are replicated to both laptops and the server.

So…couple of questions for those of you using portable homes. Mostly I’m trying to figure out whether they’re a worthwhile option to consider or whether the overhead both bandwidth and admin time wise is worth it.

  1. Are the worth the trouble or does the overhead of syncing between the laptop and server cause excessive delays?

  2. Do portable homes sync real time…or only on login/logout…normally we would stay logged in on the laptops but neither of us is logged into the server…it is normally logged in to one of the other admin accounts.

  3. If I institute portable homes…do I need to start over with new usernames or can the existing accounts be converted into portable home accounts…and if so I assume I need to do the ones on the server first then join the laptop accounts to the server portable home accounts and let sync happen.

My understanding is that portable home directories haven’t worked for years.

And even before they officially stopped working, they never really worked.

With all my files on Dropbox with “Smart Sync”, I can switch between Macs fairly easily. I don’t know if there‘s any easier or more effective way.

A few other tools to consider if you want to avoid Dropbox:

  1. Resilio Sync
  2. ChronoSync

Thanks all…I’ll just skip them and keep them locally only. At worst…I can use DropBox or one of the other suggested alternatives for Connie’s home and move/sync it over to my laptop then use the copied version while we’re gone…or even just dumb it down while she is using my laptop. Email is all IMAP so that will still work as expected, and her bookmarks I can just export and then import on my laptop. All of our calendars are synced and we’re subscribed to each other’s…and as retired bums most of our events are on a single shared calendar anyway…and she’ll have her iPhone and iPad with her anyway.