Two reasons to abandon your cloud storage client

I bet you have a Dropbox account. Or Google Drive. Or maybe OneDrive.
All of these services copy some data already contained on your hard drive to a cloud storage.

This is quite useful when you’d like to:

  • create a backup copy of your files,
  • share your files with others,
  • synchronize multiple working stations,
  • or access your files from a portable device, e.g. a tablet.

But sometimes you really don’t want a local copy of data from the cloud storage. I always want that extra space in the cloud to save data that may not be relevant now, but has the potential to become useful in the future. Now that’s what I call storage! So I’ve tried to create a setup based on that vision.

Below are two of my failed attempts and one super-successful.

Attempt #1. WebDAV

I remember some cloud service not-so-openly introduced WebDAV support for their storage. It seemed encouraging but turned out utterly unusable. A simple listing of files in a folder could take up to several minutes.

Not mentioning if you’d try to download something at the same time… All in all, it was not an option.

Attempt 2. Web interface

I tried to use the web interface only, without installing a cloud storage client at all. This method proved useful, though awkward. 
My files would eventually end up buried in the cloud for all eternity. 
It was too much of a drag to download them one by one. And I didn’t see the point in synchronizing the entire archive to my hard drive for the sake of a few files. I’ve almost lost all hope when in a few months I bumped into Odrive.

Odrive

I don’t know, what the developers are thinking, but their app is, in fact, free, which is mind-blowing, as it has two killer features: multiple storage support & unsync

Feature #1. Multiple clouds

You can link several cloud storages to this client. All of them will be synchronized both ways and stored on your computer in separate folders. 
Yes, you can link Google Drive, too. And yes, you can add two Dropbox accounts. Or even three.

Incomplete list of storages supported by Odrive

Feature #2. Unsync

Imagine this: you’ve just finished editing a movie about 5 Gb. Next wait for the movie to sync with a “conditional cloud storage” (dropbox or whatever) and press Unsync. In result, you get a “shortcut” — a zero-sized file. 
If you want it back, just click on the shortcut and it will start downloading it to your hard drive. The same applies to folders too:

Notice the file size

The problem I’ve faced when navigating folders using WebDav is solved easily: you simply keep the structure for the most used folders on you hard drive and Unsync all the actual files.
I could close the subject at this point, but it’s not the end of our story.

While reviewing the list of supported storages for Odrive I’ve noticed Amazon Personal Cloud with unlimited storage for the price of $60 a year.
This would be just $5 a month, which is two times cheaper than a terabyte storage on Dropbox.

Please read the next part with caution. Chances are, you’ll end up abandoning not only your cloud storage client but also your cloud storage service as well.


Оdrive + Amazon Private Cloud synergy

The term “Synergy” means the interaction of two or agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Which is exactly what is happening with the Odrive + Amazon Private Cloud pair.

I suppose, when Amazon is offering unlimited storage, the service does count on a finite size of the users’ hard drives after all. But with Unsync this is no longer a limitation. Which means we really are able to use unlimited storage!

Just take a moment to sit back and imagine that. I’ll wait.

My personal user experience

No, I haven’t used Amazon to upload petabytes of data. 
I merely created my dream configuration, when all the heavy-weight but needed stuff is stored in a cloud, but still within reach.

Furthermore, I’ve started gradually moving my archives from a 1TB external drive to Amazon cloud. 
This is a slow process with the bottleneck being the hard drive disk size (I’m using a MacBook with 128 Gb storage) and the upload bandwidth speed of internet connection.

Minor downsides:

  • Once you abandon storage client apps, you won’t be able to use data sharing features from the OS user interface.
  • Odrive cannot handle symlinks. At all. So your symlinks will end up with a permanent “Not allowed” status until you delete them manually. This means you won’t be able to upload your entire system to Amazon using Odrive.

And upsides:

  • Odrive has its own quite simple tool for sharing folders/files (implemented as a web page).
  • After several months of using Odrive, I still wasn’t able to lose any of my data, though it felt risky.
  • Amazon gives you a free subscription for three months to keep you on the hook for good, so I didn’t have to spend a dime yet.

Where does this come from

This is one of the topics I’m covering during a free online course “Productivity Mode for OS X”, where you can learn how to configure your MacOS for minimal distraction and maximal support.

I just love synergic effects like the one mentioned above, and I’ve got another one for the newsletter subscribers.