Syncing Aperture Libraries on two computers

by Allen Rockwell

Before I even start with this post I must make a disclaimer: The process I'm about to describe works great for me and I have had no problems as a result of using this process. ...however I do not guarantee anything and you should back up your Aperture data before attempting anything in this blog post. I am not responsible for your data.

So, with that out of the way... A while back I found that I wanted to have a current copy of my Aperture library with me at all times in case I need to search for an image, send a sample image to a client or if I just wanted to upload some images to flicker. I also wanted to do all of my editing at my desktop machine.


2006-11-24 07:23:58
This is an excellent idea, but would like some validation from that this is not only copying the images, but the ratings, keywords and all metadata and is safe. Expecially if a b-directional sync of the library is feasible and robust.

Thanks Allen !

2006-11-26 17:21:18
Thanks for the excellent and very helpful article. I also have a dual comp set up and was thinking about syncing. Very helpful.
Mark Wagoner
2006-11-26 18:19:34
Is there a reason you feel it would not work the other direction. It seems that it would work just fine. So then if you say worked on metadata on the laptop at home at night you could add that info to the main set. We are trying to figure out a way to use Aperture at our studio in the way you would use Portfolio so that many computers could search an archive, so far no luck with that. It is the only thing that is holding us back, otherwise Aperture is doing a great job for us. Do you have any thoughts on this?
All the best,
Mark Wagoner
Allen Rockwell
2006-11-26 19:06:30
I'm not sure if it would work bi-directional or not. If someone tries it I would love to hear about the results. It certainly might work.
2006-11-27 08:34:24

What I have ended up doing ....

1. Mount the laptop over firewire networking (Not booting as a firewire drive)
2. Use the aperture prefs on the desktop to point at the laptop library file on the mounted network volume

From here I can use the desktop power for editing and exporting, perform backups of my master files, move master files to the desktop etc ...

I keep the master files of the last few shoots on an iPod, and mount that on the desktop as well.

I have a vault on the desktop, and a second vault and master file backup on another file server.

This has been working for me....

Eric Hiss
2007-03-13 12:06:19
Hello Allen,
Thanks for sharing your experiences. I've been looking for a way to do this and started a thread on the Open Photography Forum in their mac group. Looks like the consensus is that this will only work one way and that a true two way sync will not be stable.

Your post raises the subject of users needing to have access to their library in multiple locations/other machines. I have a desktop at both my home office and in the studio. My Aperture library is nearing 1 Tb and it seems that the only way to use the same library in the studio and at the home office is to take the physical drives with me and keep the back-up stored in a safe place.

Of course this creates problems - the RAID setup I use now (highpoint X4 and 2322 rocket raid card) needs a card in both machines and that card only fits in desktops that have pci-x slots. ( I tried using a networked NAS RAID setup but is way too slow to work with as a master library - though I now use it as a 2nd backup.) Carrying around the master is a risky and normally a bad idea. Also this is not the kind of thing you can drop into your camera bag and carry along to a shoot.

When I use a laptop on a shoot out of the studio, I just export the projects and reimport them rather than try do a drive dance.

I don't like it and wish the Apple Aperture team would provide real sync support as well as multi user support for the program.

Eric Hiss

2007-05-29 10:29:47
I found this thread and tested ChronoSync for use bi-directionally between my desktop and laptop - it worked like a charm! All metadata/keywords/versions are kept, allowing you to do some metadata editing on the laptop and then bring in all changes to the desktop for more processor-intensive work.

Thanks for the suggestion!

John Hershey
2007-10-02 12:45:36
I made blue folders as suggested by Joe Schorr in his Inside Aperture podcast. I dragged the projects into the folders to organize the Aperture directory. But when I used ChronoSync, set as reccommended in Aleen Rockwell's article, Synching Aperture on Two Computers, through an external drive, the folder structure was not the same in the synched file on the external drive. Many folders were empty. Although all the images were there in the Library, and were still in projects as originally organized, they were not moved to the folders as I had done on the A drive. What's up with that?
John Hershey