File transfer or mirroring instead of online storage
While I can see the advantages to online storage, most of my work is done either "at the office" or "at home" -- and I have plenty of personal hard drive space in both places. So my question is whether it would be possible to use Mendeley as a kind of "online shuttle" to synchronize files between my hard drive at home and my hard drive at work, without actually storing the files online (at least, not for any longer than it took to transfer them)? I realize there might be technical and authentication problems with getting Mendeley desktop on my Windows machine at work to talk to Mendeley Desktop on my OSX machine at home (including the current problem with automatic file organization and folder watching on external drives in OSX), but I wanted to suggest the idea anyway! :)
I would still go with online backup since I never had any problems with it. I've been using Iozeta unlimited online backup. Keeps all types of files, has unlimited storage and can stream my music and video files directly from their server.
Carl Anderson commented
Yes, some kind of user-friendly option for "sneaker net" syncing and "restore from local backup" (insofar as those can be usefully distinguished) would be very welcome. Better abilities to write metadata into the PDFs would make it easier for to find (perhaps automatically) searching the "right" PDF when using a local library with its metadata sync'd up-to-date but without the actual PDFs. An online sync option could then sync both metadata and the associated PDF files, while an online storage option could sync and store metadata and files alike. But I still see online storage as being a tough area to play in. Companies like SugarSync and Dropbox offer vastly more storage space for the price. And perhaps it's only a matter of time before some clever soul builds BitTorrent technology into reference management software that lets people start performing online sync of associated PDFs with virtually no need for storage per se.
I completely agree. The only interest for me to have the online syncing is that it synchronises my library between home and work computers. The metadata is the only information that IMO needs to be accessible from the website.
Syncing between computers could be a paying option. Basic users would use only one computer while heavy users would need to sync between computers. Online storage could be the higher price option.
There is also the backup aspect of the online storage. But I think there should be another local process to recover a library.
Carl Anderson commented
True, it is nominally in conflict with Mendeley's revenue model, but I think that a revenue model based on selling online storage is quite possibly doomed anyway. Inevitably, potential Mendeley users will be wanting to store things besides their PDF libraries online, and I doubt Mendeley could (or should) compete in the general cloud storage market. Mendeley's strengths are not, IMO, in storage. Also IMO, trying to play as if they were will only encourage some open source app that _does_ work with third party sync or storage to come along and upstage them. Mendeley is not alone in the reference management, or even PDF research library management spaces, so focusing on user experience there is (again, IMO) critical.
In any case, portable storage is probably growing faster than document file size. At the moment, I have not quite 64 GB of library over 4x larger than Mendeley's largest standard storage package; with 64GB pen drives now around USD 120, I could store and transport that library for a year for the same price as a year of 15GB storage with Mendeley. Sure, "fire-and-forget" online sync (or storage) would have its advantages -- but so many advantages that I would want to pay what I assume would be much for for the amount of required storage with Mendeley? Very unlikely. Maybe Mendeley can sell storage to users with small libraries for a while, but I don't the online storage game is something they can play in forever -- not with anything like the current relative princing/capacity structure, anyway.
As this is in conflict with Mendeley's revenue model, I could see that this is not necessarily in their interest. I would also like this feature... but perhaps it could be suggested that they allow purchasing of the Mendeley Desktop software (for its organizing functionality) that allows each individual to specify the storage they want? I did find this link (which I have not tried) to sync Mac OS X and Linux directories: http://pinguin.uni-psych.gwdg.de/~ihrke/wiki/index.php/Same_Mendeley_Database_on_Linux_and_Mac_OS_X