Cloud Backup Add-On: How to effectively sync a site between computers?

Hi there, it has been asked in many a way already, but since we’re having 2024, and although reading your docs carefully, I can’t seem to find the current state of affairs for the Backup add-on.
Is there a way to effectively sync a site through Local from one computer to another? All I find is I can backup one site on one computer, but can’t simply restore on a second, and use the same site’s backups to sync the same site between computers. If I pick ‘Create from a Cloud Backup’ as an option to restore from the cloud, the add-on would create a new site on Computer 2, with its own backups, and completely ignores my settings for new sites (wrong base folder, wrong TLD). This way, I’d only be able to have two separate sites that would only sit next to each other.
Which way would be right to effectively sync sites, not have two separate ones?

Hi @physalis

At this time there isn’t a way to maintain a continuous “sync” as you’ve described with Local. The workflow would be to work on the site on machine A, back it up to the Cloud, and then pull it down on machine B. Then back up the site again after doing work on machine B in order to pull it down and work on it on Machine A, and so on.

In the future we might have some alternative solutions to provide that would be a little better suited. As an alternative, you could create a hosted site and use it as a Staging or Development install. That way you wouldn’t have the need to push and pull from each machine. Flywheel has free 14-day Demos you could utilize for this purpose depending on the length of your project. Demo Site

Hey @Nick-B , thanks for getting back.
Currently, I face two problems:

  1. When I import my site from a backup of Computer 1 to Computer 2, it appears as a new site, i.e. backups are not connected to the backed up site from Computer 1. So in what way would I be able to ‘pull it down and work on it on Machine A’ again? From what I gather, I would constantly have to delete the ‘old’ version of a site, then re-create it as a new site from backups, since backups from Computer 1 are different from Computer 2, as Local handles it as two separate sites.
  2. Local ignores my pre-defined settings for new sites (wrong TLD, folder where sites are created) when importing from a backup. Instead of creating a .dev site and putting it into my desired folder, when importing from a backup, Local forces a .local domain and pushes it to C:\Users\my user\Local Sites. Is there a way around, instead of changing the TLD in the site’s settings afterwards and moving its folder manually plus fiddling with the path in a config file for Local?

As it stands, this would be quite finicky at the moment, making it dominantly impractical to work on the same (local) site on two computers. Using a hosted dev server, as you propose, would defeat the purpose of Local, wouldn’t it?

Hi @physalis

  1. You’re correct, it would effectively be two different sites. So to clarify, you create the site on Machine A, and then create Backup #1. You pull Backup #1 down to Machine B and work on it, and then you create Backup #2. If you want to work on the site again on Machine A, you’ll pull down Backup #2. Which would be your updated backup.

  2. .dev is not our preferred TLD (.local is) and can be problematic. See here.

I don’t disagree that working on the same site from multiple machines can be tricky. The proposed solution I provided of working on it on a server-hosted version of the side could eliminate the purpose of Local yes, but for your purposes and frustrations, it seemed like it might be a better alternative. If you spun up a Staging site on Flywheel or WP Engine you could however push and pull that site with Local at any time using the Local Connect feature. If you are hosting elsewhere there are still migration methods available.

Hey @Nick-B , thanks again for getting back so quickly.

  1. That’s really a shame. Since I can’t simply create my site on Machine A, back up, then create my site from the backup on Machine B, then backup to the same ‘branch’ and re-download from the backup on Machine A again. At this point, when I switch computers, I would have to constantly delete the outdated version of the site, then re-create it from the backup, creating a new backup branch each time indefinitely. Meaning, if I restore my site on Machine B from Backup 1, when backing up, a new branch in backups is created. So, when coming back to Machine A, I can’t use the Backup 1, since the new files and settings are in the ‘Backup 2’ branch. So I would have to delete the site in Local, then re-import from ‘Backup 2’ all over, then back up to the third branch ‘Backup 3’ and so forth.
  2. Sorry, of course .dev is problematic, as they’ve become an actual TLD on the internet. I meant .test. I’m not really sure why a backup would ignore my preferred settings and override them, making a ‘sync’ even more unpleasant.
  3. I understand what you are trying to propose here, and I’m an avid fan and user of WP Migrate Pro for quickly mirroring or pushing sites and versions. However, developing locally is often meant for an increase in speed and accessibility to files, and sometimes the need to not have work-in-progress online. Needing extra time and focus every time I’m simply at my office vs. at home (think now generation home office after Covid) to set up a local site or having to effectively push and pull to a live server isn’t very convenient :slight_smile: .

I’m using Laragon since quite a few years, as a portable install, and sync all files through my Seafile server automatically, so anytime I switch computers (or need it somewhere else), I can simply do that. Apart from a few quirks every now and then, this has proven quite reliable.
I had hoped, with the Backup add-on now in place, that I could start using Local and embrace its extra features like the (for me defunct) auto-login or browser refresh or the simplistic setting up of a new site, yet Local still seems a bit limited for my workflow.

I definitely get where you’re coming from. What you’re after is essentially a Git-style flow, which definitely isn’t what Cloud Backups was intended to be used as. Its singular purpose is really just to allow for backing up a Local site. Using it in the manner we’ve discussed, and other workarounds I’ve proposed are just more laborious methods of trying to get what you’re looking for.

If you’d like, you can create a Feature Request for something like this (or anything else in the future). These can be voted on, and receive feedback from the community. The Local team actively tracks these for future enhancements :slight_smile:

Thanks again, @Nick-B , for taking the time to reply and clarify the current state of Local in regard to backing up/syncing sites.
The way you put it, it sounds like my ‘case’ is something special—while the Local website clearly advertises the add-on as ‘Create secure backups of your project and work across multiple machines with ease!’, ‘Work from anywhere’ and ‘work seamlessly across multiple workstations’. The way the add-on and Local function, reality is just far from your website marketing copy. There is no sync or easy backup-and-restore (the backup part is easy, the rest is not) as the website suggests. And I don’t need a Git-style collaboration and versioning as such, it’s just one person working on a project with two different computers (I can realise Git through my IDE).

On any account, thanks for taking the time. I’ll create a feature request, and will probably come back in a few years to see how Local developed, just as I did now.