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Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 1:46PM GMT
Classification: Query
First, let me be upfront that I have NO knowledge of the internals (SW architecture) of FTM 2014 (or any of the FTM products). As as software engineer that enjoys genealogy I started to look more closely at the sync issue everyone is having (myself included). Many folks were reporting that they were told to delete their Ancestry tree and then upload a new copy. I tried another option last night on a suspicion of what might be happening and need to get someone to replicate the process to see if it clears up the sync issue.

When you upload, link and sync an FTM file to an Ancestry tree, it creates a sync file on your local system (ends with ".sync" and is in the same directory as your FTM files). I started to suspect the problem might be a corrupted sync file as evidenced by the strange date that sometimes shows up in FTM for the online tree date (indicating some bad data). Instead of deleting the old Ancestry tree and reloading the FTM copy, I instead renamed the old sync file and forced FTM to upload a new copy to Ancestry (and link it). That action caused FTM to create a new sync file whereas deleting the old Ancestry tree and uploading a new copy would not necessarily create a new sync file.

So far, I haven't had any issues, but have not had time to make many changes (via FTM or Ancestry) to see if the problem is completely eliminated. I thought I would post this to see if anyone would like to replicate this to see if the problem is resolved.

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 2:16PM GMT
Classification: Query
Interesting idea.
I currently don't have a tree with a sync issue but would like to understand your process in case a sync issue does show up.
When you say "I instead renamed the old sync file and forced FTM to upload a new copy to Ancestry (and link it). "
What steps did you take exactly to "force FTM to upload a new copy to Ancestry"? It sounds like that would result in a second AMT. Is that correct?
If so, does not the old AMT still think it is linked to FTM?

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 2:28PM GMT
Classification: Query
I'm running FTM 2014 on a Windows 7 (64-bit) laptop. I changed the name of the sync file so it no longer matched the filename of the FTM data file (e.g. MyFamily.sync -> Old-MyFamily.sync). You need to make sure you haven't started FTM first as the file will be in use.

Once you rename the sync file, when you open FTM, it will tell you that you haven't uploaded your file to Ancestry and will ask if you want to. Please note that any sharing, etc., will be lost so you will have to reestablish this. This was because there wasn't a sync file that matched the FTM file. I permitted FTM to upload the FTM file to Ancestry and made sure the tree on Ancestry was not the same tree (in my case I just added FTM 2014 to the name). FTM then uploaded and linked the two files. I made some small changes on the Ancestry side and things sync'd okay but I haven't made a lot of major changes as of yet.

The prior tree on Ancestry (assuming you changed the tree name) will still be there and you should unlink it (or even delete it as it is a duplicate). It still thinks it is linked in FTM. This will also depend if you've made a lot of changes in Ancestry that aren't in your FTM file. If you have, then I would recommend exporting the old tree from Ancestry. I have not tried to upload to the old tree in Ancestry. In my case, there were only a couple of experimental changes I made online that were not worth recovering.

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 4:09PM GMT
Classification: Query
I have 2012 and functioning linked trees, or I'd replicate. Thanks for tinkering and sharing. I hope this helps people who are unable to re-establish a linked tree.

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 6:20PM GMT
Classification: Query
That sounds like an interesting thought. I'm a System Administrator (like you, w/ no knowledge of the FTM software internals) however I am very familiar w/ data file transmittals (and problems) and this sounds like something to consider. I've made note of your suggestion - knock on wood, so far I have never had a problem; perhaps the fact I've only got 300+ people in my tree so far might have something to do with that.

Best of luck,
Joe

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 6:59PM GMT
Classification: Query
Edited: 23 Oct 2013 7:01PM GMT
MBandor wrote:
"That action caused FTM to create a new sync file whereas deleting the old Ancestry tree and uploading a new copy would not necessarily create a new sync file. "

I thought about this a little more. As you wrote yourself, when you "upload, link and sync an FTM file to an Ancestry tree, it creates a sync file on your local system." Does FTM, perhaps, use the same file name and then not overwrite the previous file with the same name? I think your proposition about it should be tested; otherwise, your solution isn't doing anything for those people with persistently fault links from FTM to Ancestry.com.

It sounds reasonable to me that these sync files, as part of the process of synchronizing, are one of the potential points of failure. My guess, however, is that the majority of failures results from unhandled exceptions in the code. ;)

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 7:45PM GMT
Classification: Query
Marco,

I don't know what specific information is contained in the sync file. I know it is a binary file (you need a hex editor or other tool to look through it). I do know, from this experiment, link status, dates, file names, invitees, etc., seem to be contained in it. I figured if I started with a clean sync file (new file) and the problem still occurred then I could rule that out as a problem. This was based on the behavior I was noticing during the sync failures. For instance, prior to the experiment I was getting about 60% or so( estimate based on the progress bar) through the "analyzing FTM for changes" before I would get the error. I cleaned up my FTM info (duplicate people, locations, possible "special characters" in the names, etc., and the progress dropped to under 50% before the error happened. I saw that some folks recommended changing from an automatic sync to a manual sync. When I changed the setting, FTM gave me a message indicating there was an issue with the link file (which I interpreted as the sync file it created) and asked if I wanted to relink to my Ancestry tree. I let it attempt to relink the tree (successfully) and then the next sync got to almost 75% before I got an error. That was the point I started to suspect the sync file may be part of the issue.

Like I said, I've only done a limited experiment (about 1900 people in my file with lots of media) to see if anything changed by doing it this way. I could have tried to relink to the original Ancestry file but opted not to in order to eliminate that variable. Almost all of my changes were done in FTM. The few in Ancestry were minor (more of an experiment after the sync problem manifested itself)..

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 7:59PM GMT
Classification: Query
I see what you're getting at with the idea of starting with a clean sync file, and I love that you're tinkering around in the first place, because it's users in the community here that often figure out solutions. For example, we were all under the impression that it was not possible to restore a linked tree (because they forgot to add the feature into the backup tool) until a user here discovered the sync files. Then we all started making copies of our FTM files and those sync files, and we learned that we could move a linked tree from one computer to another without breaking the link.

Sorry, sync file. The only questions here are whether FTM creates a NEW sync file with the same name (since you renamed it) and if it OVERWRITES the old file. If FTM doesn't use the same name, then renaming the file doesn't accomplish anything. If FTM does use the same name, but replaces the old file, then renaming the file doesn't accomplish anything either.

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 23 Oct 2013 11:18PM GMT
Classification: Query
I've been a software engineer for almost 25 years and sometimes, when testing, you have to try some things that are not typical. I know when I was developing & testing software during my Air Force career, not only would I test it to make sure it did what is was supposed to (functionally correct), but also try to break it (correct behavior). My coworkers knew if they started hearing a maniacal laugh coming out of my cubicle, then I was really trying to break the system (sometimes with some spectacular results)!

So, I was able to go out via my Ancestry account and make some changes online (only online). The sync worked just fine. I'm going to make some local changes in FTM 2014 later tonight and see if the sync is still working. So far, I'm not having any problems but admit it is a rather limited experiment at the moment. I figured I had nothing to lose. Everything I had is backed up multiple times (and I've tested the restore function in FTM -- it works as advertised).

Re: Possible Sync Fix - Need Someone to Replicate

Posted: 25 Oct 2013 2:00PM GMT
Classification: Query
This sounds very reasonable. Just two weeks ago, I installed FTM2014, uploaded my tree to Ancestry, loved making changes...

And now in week 2, I'm having sync issues...I'm frustrated.

This weekend I am going to try what you suggested.
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