How do I fix Master computer & sync’d mobile devices on Dropbox

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08 Aug, 2022 12:18 AM

My home iMac is my master or main MD computer. I have 2 apple mobile devices as ‘slaves’ (I cannot recall proper terminology) and also a laptop running linux w/ a full version of MD but acting as a slave, plus a linux desktop also acting as a slave which I keep current in case my iMac fails. They (were) all sync’d to the iMac via dropbox.

I’ve been traveling for a month, my iMac is powered off and at home. I am traveling with 2 apple mobile devices and the linux laptop. This has worked well for me in the past but a few weeks ago Dropbox notified me that I can have only 3 devices in their basic account. I only use dropbox for MD so don’t need a premium account. They forced me to remove some devices to continue using the service. Since I’m traveling with 3 devices I selected to maintain those devices and remove the rest.

I failed to think through what the consequences were and removed my iMac, the ‘Master’ device.

I will be home soon and am wondering what to do about my 3 ‘slave’ MD computers and the iMac that is no longer linked to dropbox. At a later date I may switch to iCloud but apparently iCloud does not support non-apple devices for syncing MD. Meanwhile, I am looking for the best way to get my iMac back online as the ‘Master’ computer. At this moment I don’t know if the linux laptop that I’m using contains all my historical data compared to the iMac.

What would happen if, after I get home, I remove an apple mobile device from dropbox and add the iMac? Will the iMac sync the data since traveling, or will it create duplicate records of past entries? Or is it best to laboriously hand update a months worth of data and then set up syncing from scratch?

  1. 1 Posted by dwg on 08 Aug, 2022 03:41 AM

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    That is a bit of an oops.

    Lets start with the fundamentals. You have 5 systems

    3 x Desktops/Notebooks
    2 x Mobiles

    With you combination you have to use Dropbox, Apple is not all that interested in iCloud and Linux.

    With Dropbox we have two connection choices Folder and Connection. Folder requires that the Dropbox client is installed on the machine and it is this client that uses the Dropbox licenses.

    Connection is using an API to interact with Dropbox directly and does not use the Dropbox Client and without the client installed no license is consumed.

    The mobile application always uses Dropbox Connection, it will not and cannot use the Dropbox client even if it is installed.

    As you are only using Dropbox for Moneydance you can remove the client from your mobile devices, with three Desktop/Notebook devices you are within the free account's limit. You should not need to do anything with Moneydance on the mobiles.

    What did you do on the iMac? Did you just uninstall the Dropbox client ? Did you disable Moneydance syncing on it?

    Depending on what you have actually done depends on what approaches can be tried.

  2. 2 Posted by jonh on 08 Aug, 2022 04:10 PM

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    @dwg: Thanks for clarifying how dropbox works. I am guessing (can't remember) that I set up folders and not connections because I frequently do not have a connection on my mobile devices.

    I have not done anything "on" my iMac yet. It's at home and turned off. What I did do on dropbox is uncheck devices authenicated (if that is the correct term) to dropbox to bring the total down to 3. That included unchecking the iMac. I do have backup's of MD data on the iMac & the linux laptop that I am traveling with.

    I suppose worse case scenario is that I can manually input a months worth of data to the iMac but that will be labor intensive.

    So I am looking for a suggestion on how to handle my big oopsie of deselecting the iMac in Dropbox.

  3. 3 Posted by dwg on 08 Aug, 2022 10:10 PM

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    Creating backups is the first thing to do.

    The first thing I would try is the simplest

    Without starting Moneydance recreate the Dropbox setup you had on you iMac and allow it to populate with data. I have no idea if on Dropbox you can just recheck the authentication box, perhaps worth a look.One Dropbox is again working you should be able to see any new data in your Dropbox folder - the Moneydance data is in a hidden sub folder.

    Once you have Dropbox back and data moving start Moneydance on this machine and see if it updates.

    The idea here is to treat it as if the iMac had just been turned off as far as Moneydance is concerned.

  4. 4 Posted by jonh on 09 Aug, 2022 12:05 AM

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    Thanks, I’ll give that a shot. I did look at Dropbox w/ my iPad and saw no reference to iMac, although at the tome DBox was complaining to I did see the choice of iMac.

    Before I do any of that, I will remove my iPad from Dbox to make room for the iMac. The sync’d data in iPad is sync’d to 2 other devices so there will be no loss. I don’t think I can backup mobile devices but will check.

  5. 5 Posted by jonh on 09 Aug, 2022 12:50 AM

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    Well, I removed my iPad from Dbox to allow me to make the iMac one of 3 allowed devices. Now I have iMac, iPhone, & linux laptop.

    The Dbox shared folder on the iMac is intact from when I shutdown and left town. The /Attach folder has files up until last Friday, probably missing only 2 or 3 entries. I will open MD on my linux laptop and see if a few more come in but if not it's easy to manually input the 3 or 4 entries since then. So I have high hopes that starting MD on the iMac will update in the usual fashion. I'll wait until I hear back from you in case you have some more advice.

  6. 6 Posted by jonh on 09 Aug, 2022 08:40 PM

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    @dwg I cannot thank you enough. This is not the first time you have given me tips and pointers that has bailed me out of self-created problems. I still need to verify all data was transferred but at a glance it appears that it was. Well over 200 individual transactions were updated in about 2 seconds! I thought for sure the sync failed but no, there are weeks worth of data added to my iMac.

    The DBox folder on my iMac contains info from prior to my removing my iMac from Dbox but apparently Dbox does not remove the data. The folder also contained entries from the time the iMac was marked as not a device at Dbox.

    You previously mentioned that Dbox Connections in MD used an API and I am wondering if you would know if the use of Connections vs Folders would allow for mobile device not being counted in the Dbox 3 device limit for free basic service.

  7. 7 Posted by dwg on 09 Aug, 2022 10:29 PM

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    The shared folder, whether it be Dropbox or any other service contains all files from when syncing was started, hence it contains the initial seed file then every update since. This has both good and bad points, it means syncing can deal with a system being offline for a fair while by using just the incremental files, a point will come however when syncing can choke on the sheer volume and at that stage there needs to be a consolidation of the shared files. Moneydance does not have an auto mechanism for doing this but there are ways of doing it manually.

    Your iMac had not been used for all that long, so from a data perspective we would not normally expect there to be an overwhelming amount. Then the main thing is that syncing had not been touched on the iMac which meant all the structures and the linkages were intact. If it had been touched then it would have become more involved. Hence it was possible to reinstate Dropbox get it working and just continue on with Moneydance. With this it is also possible to move Moneydance to a new master system without a rebuild, if it is done just right, only something I would suggest for the experienced user to try.

    Syncing works well but it is not something to be played with as it can be readily broken.

    As for your last question do not install the Dropbox client on your mobile device and a Dropbox connection license will NOT be used. Moneydance still works as it never used the client on the mobile in the first place. So if you remove the clients of these devices from Dropbox you should see that Moneydance still works.

    From a Moneydance perspective the Dropbox Client limit should never be an issue as it is quite feasible to not use any licenses at all. In fact if you were to buy Moneydance from the App store the only Dropbox option that version offers is Connection.

  8. 8 Posted by jonh on 09 Aug, 2022 11:09 PM

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    Excellent, thanks for the great detail info.

    I've seen reference of Apple Store purchase and sync but since I've owned MD for over a decade and long before I became a Apple user I never paid attention to those details.

    Currently I have removed my iPad (wifi only device) from the Dbox devices (in order to make room for my iMac) so I'll just delete the client app from that and spend a few days watching what happens with MD.

    My iMac is (or at least was and think it still is). I suffered through a major reorganization of Master/slave(?) restoration many months ago after a different oppsie but I sure don't want to do that all over again.

    Seems to me that one could clear up the incremental files in a folder by backing up all the devices, unsyncing, removing the folder, and starting again. Maybe there is a bit more to it but I think I'll just muddle through with it like it is and hope it all keeps going.

    Every once in awhile I peek at Dbox folder and sometimes find a conflicted copy. That is always a PITA.

  9. 9 Posted by dwg on 09 Aug, 2022 11:47 PM

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    Personally I see nothing to recommend the App Store version and many reasons to recommend against it.

    There is not a master/slave type relationship between the systems. Ideally we have one primary system and x secondary systems. In most ways each system is a peer. There are some ways you can get multiple Primary systems, you would have to by trying though, but it is really easy to not have a primary, without really thinking and it could be quite accidental. The primary system is the one that initially sets up the relationship, it is this machine that assigned the unique Data Set ID and it is only this machine that can turn off syncing.

    Each Instance of Moneydance performs maintenance activity on the local Data Set so the personal copy on each machine is being consolidated on each use of Moneydance. There is no software running that can do the same on the shared data.

    Certainly, as you state, tearing it down so there is a single standalone system and building up syncing again resolves this, but I would not consider this to be a desirable maintenance method, that is a more it is broken and we need to fix it type approach.

    I think if it becomes necessary, we only see the problem infrequently, we could come up with and document a more procedural approach that could be used. The way we have seen the problem manifest itself in recent times is with a syncing setup that is quite old and there is a desire to add a new machine to it. In theory it should and can work but there are times it does not.

  10. 10 Posted by jonh on 10 Aug, 2022 12:01 AM

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    dwg wrote: "The primary system is the one that initially sets up the relationship, it is this machine that assigned the unique Data Set ID "

    Maybe that is why my recovery was so easy. I have tested my iPad which still has the dropbox client installed but the device is no longer registered as a valid client with Dbox. MD on the iPad has updated the transactions I made on my iMac, exactly as you stated it would.

  11. 11 Posted by dwg on 10 Aug, 2022 12:06 AM

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    Your recovery was easy because Moneydance was not touched, all you had done was effectively disable Dropbox at a level underneath MD. By restoring Dropbox operation MD was able to then just continue. From a MD perspective it was just as if DB was offline for a while.

  12. 12 Posted by mokujo on 10 Aug, 2022 10:59 PM

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    sorry--hijacking this thread because it's the only way I have to contact user dwg. Dwg, thanks for posting your 2022 MD user manual in an earlier thread. I have some suggested edits/corrections, are you taking feedback/updating it and if so can you set up a way for us to do that (such as: upload the manual to a Google account as a doc, set permissions so as to allow folks to make comments/suggestions which you can then accept or reject)? Agreed with many others that a basic overview/user manual is super helpful and needed for potential new users like myself, the kb isn't cutting it for someone trying to figure out where to begin, the explanation of double-entry bookkeeping was essential, etc. The official 2015 manual is prettier and less verbose but your version helped me to understand key points better for using the software that would have created a lot of frustration and extra time for me to figure out otherwise.

  13. 13 Posted by jonh on 10 Aug, 2022 11:35 PM

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    An easier way is to post a new message. That said, and I'm sure @dwg will clarify this, he is just a user, like you & I. But a whole lot more knowledgable! AFAIK the referenced manual is linked to infinitekind and he is not the author. You would have to contact IK Support instead.

  14. 14 Posted by dwg on 11 Aug, 2022 12:17 AM

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    There are the manuals that TIK produce, the last one in 2015, before they switched to the Knowledge Base approach. Then there are the documents that I keep.

    I see a need for the KB it can contain short sharp how to type documents, quite invaluable in using software like Moneydance, In a way I keep my own Howtos in order to provide some quick minimal typing answers. I'm sure many of the participants in the forums do this.

    I was coming across material that did not fit this format and I wanted to keep it without blowing out the files I keep. At the same time I was learning a new word processor and had "borrowed" the old 2015 user guide as 100 pages of raw material to play with, this was around 2017.

    The 2015 guide was updated to cover 2017, KB articles incorporated, the material I had found added etc. So it has become as sort of a hobby/project/repository of found information. The old TIK 2015 document was also split into a number of documents, so it has become more of a doc set - probably a legacy of my working for major computer vendors and dealing with corporate level products.

    I do not want to make a major production of things but I am more than happy to receive feedback. The documents can be easily upset, especially when edited in different software programs, and even in the software I use a little cantankerous in places.

    I'm happy enough to start a new forum topic, post the latest version and take feedback, if that would suffice.

    FWIW a simple way of thinking of double entry and of how to apply it in Moneydance is to remember that every transaction you enter is just a transfer, an account to/from a category or an account to/from a security, or an account to another account etc.

  15. System closed this discussion on 10 Nov, 2022 12:20 AM.

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