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Feegle
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Old February 23rd, 2016, 10:03 AM
Once the initial six month cloud service is through, is it required for continued use of Realm Works? The product page seems to suggest that the Cloud is for backup and nothing else.

I suppose I'm actually asking, "What does cloud access for with Realm Works?"
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Parody
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Old February 23rd, 2016, 10:20 AM
You may find the Cloud Service FAQ helpful.

Cloud Service gives you offline access for your players (if they have at least a Player account in Realm Works). If you don't have cloud service, you can only use the player view to show things to your players.

It also lets you merge realms. If you don't have cloud service, you can duplicate your realms as well as any purchased content realms but cannot combine realms at all. (So a given campaign realm could only have one source realm.) If you have cloud service, you can merge as many realms into your other realms as you want, as well as duplicating them.

Last, but not least, it's a way for you to backup your realms and bring them to other machines. :)

I may have missed things, but those are some of the big ones.

Hope this helps.


Last edited by Parody; February 23rd, 2016 at 10:26 AM.
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EightBitz
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Old February 24th, 2016, 08:26 AM
The cloud isn't for backing up your realms, it's for synchronizing (plus the other stuff mentioned above and in the FAQ). Synchronizing is not the same as backing up. Backups are still done on your local machine.

To clarify the difference:
A backup is an offline copy of your realms that is never used as a live copy or never modified in any way. Backups protect against data corruption or unintended changes, because in such cases, you can restore your backups, and your realms will be restored to how they existed at the time the backups were created. If you've been vigilant about taking backups, this will be a reasonably recent copy.

Synchronization means that you have two active copies (one on your computer, and one in the cloud), and any changes you make are then copied to the other. So if something is corrupt, the corruption will either prevent the synchronization or propagate with the synchronization. If you make unintended or unwanted changes, they will also propagate.

TL;DR, the cloud offers synchronization, not backups. Backups prevent data loss. Synchronization propagates data loss.
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EightBitz
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Old February 24th, 2016, 08:57 AM
I used to manage backups and storage area networks. I kept having to remind my VP and CIO about the very significant difference between a backup strategy and a synchronization strategy.
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ShadowChemosh
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Old February 24th, 2016, 10:49 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by EightBitz View Post
TL;DR, the cloud offers synchronization, not backups. Backups prevent data loss. Synchronization propagates data loss.
So with this idea then if my local computer crashes and I lose all data on my hard-drive I am SOL? I won't be able to reinstall RW and then tell it to sync down the data from the cloud.

Wait I can do the above allowing me to "restore" all my data. Looks allot like a backup to me if it can get me back from a hard-drive crash.

I understand from a business point of view there is a difference but for the average user of RW it will work as backup and a life saver.

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ibecker
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Old February 24th, 2016, 11:23 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowChemosh View Post
So with this idea then if my local computer crashes and I lose all data on my hard-drive I am SOL? I won't be able to reinstall RW and then tell it to sync down the data from the cloud.

Wait I can do the above allowing me to "restore" all my data. Looks allot like a backup to me if it can get me back from a hard-drive crash.

I understand from a business point of view there is a difference but for the average user of RW it will work as backup and a life saver.
Backups are point-in-time snapshots of the system, whereas synchronized copies are supposed to be identical to each other, with no notion of history.

The point is that synchronization helps if you (for instance) lose your entire local hard drive, because you can sync the cloud copy, as of the point of last synchronization, to your new local drive. However, it *doesn't* help if you delete something from your realm, sync the realm to the cloud, and then later want that deleted bit back - because that change will be present in the cloud copy, as well. That's what backups are designed to protect against.

-Ian
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Parody
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Old February 24th, 2016, 12:20 PM
It's a distinction that isn't that relevant for the way most of us use Realm Works (or colloquial use of the term backup) I would guess, but usage patterns vary.

For example, I only develop on one machine and only "commit" to the cloud when I'm at a good stopping point or when a software update forces it. (I rarely log in from day to day.) The cloud is one backup point among the many that are on my hard drive and local network already from manual backups and the automatic ones made by Realm Works and the RW Installers. So far there's only been two times I was tempted to go back: once when I was screwing around to create a conflict to make the picture in this post (I undid the deletion), and once during the changeover to HTML (I left my first conversion alone rather than restore a copy from 200 and convert again).

I have to agree, however, that you are technically correct, and as we all know technically correct is the best kind of correct. ;)


Last edited by Parody; February 24th, 2016 at 12:35 PM.
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EightBitz
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Old February 24th, 2016, 01:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parody View Post
It's a distinction that isn't that relevant for the way most of us use Realm Works (or colloquial use of the term backup) I would guess, but usage patterns vary.
As you say, usage patterns vary. I have multiple machines in multiple locations, so I always synchronize. For my usage pattern, the distinction is very relevant. I can't count on the cloud as a backup, because the cloud version of my realms is the same as the local version of my realms.

For me, it's not so much about being technically correct as it is about making an informed choice. Given that I don't know the most common usage pattern, I err towards a more thorough explanation. If the distinction doesn't matter to some people, then it doesn't matter. But at least they'll know.
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rob
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Old February 24th, 2016, 01:08 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by EightBitz View Post
The cloud isn't for backing up your realms, it's for synchronizing (plus the other stuff mentioned above and in the FAQ). Synchronizing is not the same as backing up. Backups are still done on your local machine.

To clarify the difference:
A backup is an offline copy of your realms that is never used as a live copy or never modified in any way. Backups protect against data corruption or unintended changes, because in such cases, you can restore your backups, and your realms will be restored to how they existed at the time the backups were created. If you've been vigilant about taking backups, this will be a reasonably recent copy.

Synchronization means that you have two active copies (one on your computer, and one in the cloud), and any changes you make are then copied to the other. So if something is corrupt, the corruption will either prevent the synchronization or propagate with the synchronization. If you make unintended or unwanted changes, they will also propagate.

TL;DR, the cloud offers synchronization, not backups. Backups prevent data loss. Synchronization propagates data loss.
I believe you're grossly simplifying things with your final conclusion above. Everything you said up to that point was sound, but that conclusion is NOT what users should walk away thinking. Since at least some already have, I need to clarify here, as the assertion will be misleading to others who don't have all the technical background and understanding that you've got.

I'm going to start with traditional syncing in an IT environment, where synchronization performs both automatically and transparently. It is also performed blindly, since the purpose of its use is typically something like automatic fail-over. In that environment, your assertion that synchronization propagates data loss is quite accurate. But that's NOT the RW model.

Within RW, there are three major differences from the normal approach in IT...

First, the RW syncing process is entirely user initiated. This means the user can choose when to trigger the sync, so if he knows he messed something up (e.g. deleted something he wants back), he can simply opt not to clobber the server with the local errors.

Second, the RW syncing process is selectively two-way. Combined with being user-initiated, a user can readily use the cloud as a backup. If he deletes something locally and wants it back, or something gets corrupted locally, or the user's disk fries, he can simply retrieve what's on the server and pull it down to his local computer. If you have two separate computers (e.g. desktop and laptop), you even have a second level of backup. If you make changes on Computer1, then sync it to the cloud, then realize that was a mistake, you can switch to Computer2 and force the cloud to take what's on Computer2, effectively restoring the cloud. You can then pull everything down from the cloud onto Computer1, restoring it.

Lastly, the RW syncing process performs extensive data validations to catch potential data-integrity problems BEFORE they get onto the server. Many of the dreaded "Sync -500" errors that users have encountered over the years are exactly this situation. There are occasionally bugs on the desktop client that result in localized data-integrity conflicts. The syncing logic vets all the data that comes up from the client to make sure it's error-free. If an error is encountered, the changes from the local computer are rejected by the server, and the issue is reported. In this way, issues with bad data are blocked from even getting onto the server, preserving a pristine version of the realm.

In general, the only way for synchronization to propagate data loss within Realm Works is when the user deletes the data and then the user explicitly performs a sync. And if the user has a second computer, he can use the trick I described above.

As an added fail-safe, RW automatically makes a new backup of your database every time you launch the product, keeping the last 10 copies. So users can also restore from a local backup at any time if they make changes that they want to undo.

I hope this post makes the whole process clear to everyone.
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ShadowChemosh
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Old February 24th, 2016, 01:17 PM
Yeah what Rob said!

I had a post but then saw Rob said stuff and he says it "way" better than me.

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3.5 D&D (d20) - Community Server Setup
5E D&D - Community Server Setup
Hero Lab Help - Hero Lab FAQ, Editor Tutorials and Videos, Editor & Scripting Resources.
Created by the community for the community
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- d20 HL package volunteer editor.
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