Google Browser Sync Sucks

This is based on a email I sent to Google’s support for the Browser Sync Firefox extension. All these issues I have been having since 1.0 of the extension, this is at least the third version and yet I still cannot use it on my desktop. Since I only have it installed on two computers, I really don’t know what use syncing is if the second one can’t update. I would uninstall it, but I keep hoping they will fix it.

The first problem is the extension cannot ever finish updating on my desktop. Second is, it leaves gigantic log files in my profile directory, there are currently a total of 1.6 gigabytes of BrowserSync logs in there for the last three days.

I have 90 days worth of history (yes I know that is nuts) in Firefox so do not want to attempt synchronizing history, but the extension’s settings dialog will not keep the setting of what I want synchronized after a failure and since it always attempts to sync on pressing ok and fails, I am constantly returned to the default settings. Once I set only cookies and saved passwords to synchronize and hit ok in the settings dialog, it begins processing but eventually gives “Settings change did not complete, please try again later.”

From looking at the log files, it appears BrowserSync is syncing everything even though I told it only to do cookies and passwords. The log file shows “Sync Failure – 403,Forbidden,Update exceeds single upload limit.” at line 286301 of the log file I attached to the email and shows tons of URLs from history I would prefer not to store online much less synchronize. BrowserSync should not be uploading stuff the user tells it not to. That is a huge privacy issue especially since the history is not encrypted. Yes I know nothing on the internet is truly anonymous. I think you can tell from my willingness to use Gmail or this extension, I am not a privacy nut, but I don’t want a list of everything I do online sitting in one place on someone else’s server.

The log of just one sync attempt is 24 megabytes which only took BrowserSync a few minutes to create. Their logging is far to verbose and uses way too much repetitive text. It is insane to have such large log files and certainly to keep more than the current one if they are this large.

The total logs on my laptop though are only 21 megabytes total. There I only have 30 day history and since it doesn’t keep failing, it doesn’t have to repeat the same stuff every time. But 21 megabytes is still a lot for log files being stored in your profile directory.

I am using Google Browser Sync 1.1.20060711.0 with Firefox 1.5.0.4 – Build ID: 2006050817.

Update: After playing with things some more, I finally got the sync to go through. I went through my cookies and deleted all but the sites I login to where cookies are useful. I also edited the extension’s preference manually in about:config to include only cookies and passwords. One or both of those solved the problem. Of course now that I was able to sync with my laptop most of the junk cookies got put back. But at least now things are finally synchronized.

I wish there was some way to view and edit what is stored online so I could clean things up. Or maybe even a way to specify which cookies not to sync. Though I do not think cookies are a major privacy issue, I still prefer not to make it easier on advertising companies to track me. Why synchronize stuff that isn’t necessary? While cookies are small, they still take up a bit of bandwidth to update.

So, it doesn’t really suck (once it is working). But I got you to read this post didn’t I.

1 Comment to "Google Browser Sync Sucks"

  1. Priyesh's Gravatar Priyesh
    April 17, 2008 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I am having problems with google sync as well. The initial version never gave me a problem (had a mac and windows installed). But as soon as I started expanding the scope of googleSync (5 computers now), it started loosing my bookmarks randomly. Specially the newly added ones, which sux even more.

    I hope whatever the problem is, someone at google has brains and drive to fix a launched product.

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