Filtering by Category: File management

What is life like when all your files are in the cloud?

Added on by odrive.

Efficient. Productive. Relaxed. Stress-free…

I’m the IT guy of my extended family. I worry about getting the photos off our phones and cameras, where to store them, and how to share them. I tirelessly organize our financial documents, health records, credit card statements, and other files… thankfully it’s all electronic these days so I can skip the scanner.

A year ago, if a blazing fire were to have broken out in my house and my family members could have grabbed only one thing to save, my daughter would have grabbed her favorite stuffed animal. My wife would have reached for her purse and made it to safety. I probably would have died of smoke inhalation disconnecting our NAS, tucking away our USB sticks and drives, and grabbing our laptops.

It’s like watching an episode of Hoarders and realizing I have a very bad problem. (But a fixable problem, at least).

These days, I’m a lot more laid back now that my files are in the cloud. Here are some reasons why.

 

No more hunting for photos on physical media

“Hey, do you know where that photo is of my cousin and I on our trip last year?”

Those are the words that used to precede a chaotic flurry of searching laptop hard drives, my NAS, USB sticks, memory cards, Facebook, and cloud storage to find that one file for some project that’s bound to be underappreciated by the recipient in the end.

But now at least the file is in the cloud… I still have to find it, but it’s much easier. (And if I would have been willing to use Google+ for my photos, I could have used their visual image search capability to make it even easier).

 Google+ Photo Search… it’s, uh, scary impressive. And useful.

Google+ Photo Search… it’s, uh, scary impressive. And useful.

 

No more buying storage hardware

Drop $300 for a 5-bay NAS. Set it up. Buy disks. Replace case fan. Replace disks as they go out. Buy newer, bigger disks as my storage needs increase. Rinse. Repeat. (Well, I certainly hope you never have to buy yet another NAS).

Buy USB drive, backup stuff from my computer… now I have multiple copies to manage and run into the physical media sprawl mentioned earlier. Rinse. Repeat. See therapist. Take anti-depression meds.

It’s actually easier and cheaper to outsource this to a cloud storage provider. Even the $300 NAS without disks could be 5 years of $60/year Amazon Drive storage. Physical storage is going out of style… there’s a reason why the best laptops these days can be sold without DVD drives on them anymore. The internet rules. And by extension, cloud storage rules.

 

Sharing files becomes natural

It’s important to remember that physical media can suffer from hardware failure or be lost, too. USB sticks and SD cards, in particular, get misplaced, stolen, or traded around until nobody remembers who has it. Who wants to manage multiple copies of things on physical media? With cloud storage, I can share with weblinks, or even share storage collaboratively if you have the right tools. This is the natural way to share files — instantaneous and simple.

 

No more lugging my briefcase and laptop around

I used to drag along a laptop bag to bring my work laptop home from the office every night. I don’t anymore. All the files I need are in the cloud… OneDrive has my MS Word and Excel docs, and GitHub has the code I need to access. So I can leave the machinery at work and still be able to work on things from my computer at home. And I can access it all from my mobile device in a pinch.

Bonus: if you are leveraging cloud computing as well, your company can be light-weight and mobile as well. My company did just that:

 

Desktop sync minimizes downtime effects (read: stress)

Do I ever worry that the back-end service will become unavailable right when I need it? Yes, of course. It’s my job to worry. But desktop sync has my back. I can work on changes even if I hop onto a plane or if the back-end cloud storage service goes down for a little bit.

Bonus: with odrive, I can also unsync files I don’t care about to turn them into placeholder files that don’t take up disk space. This is nice because I have more content in the cloud than I do hard disk space, so there’s no way I can have everything fully synchronized all the time.

 

Zero-knowledge encryption ensures that hackers can’t hack

Nothing is really safe anymore. Everything must be encrypted, and you must control your own keys. I’ll admit I don’t care about hackers getting into a lot of the stuff I have in the cloud (e.g. photos, files from various personal projects, etc.) as long as they leave it alone.

I do care about things that have social security numbers and other private data, though. And for those things, I’d feel safe only if I had a zero-knowledge encryption solution handy (e.g. odrive) for that set of important files.

 Zero Knowledge Encryption: encryption keys are safe when they are in your head, not your storage provider’s servers.

Zero Knowledge Encryption: encryption keys are safe when they are in your head, not your storage provider’s servers.

But in reality, if encryption was something that was so seamless I could take it for granted, I’d say screw it and just encrypt everything, even the stuff I cared less about. Why not? Might as well keep all the curtains closed. That’s something that is part of the odrive vision, too. It’s right around the corner…

 

So go ahead, take a load off and relax.

Get your files into the cloud and stop worrying about your files. And your family’s files or company files. Then kick your feet back and enjoy some peace and comfort, finally.

 There are better things to do with your time and energy

There are better things to do with your time and energy

 

And while you’re at it, take a look at how odrive can further transform your cloud storage experience even more… odrive isn’t a cloud storage provider itself, but we offer a way to unleash the full benefits of the cloud with whatever existing cloud storage you own.

  • Consolidate access to all your storage under one login
  • Get infinite, flexible sync to everything (even sources like Amazon Drive which don’t have a sync client)
  • Protect your files through strong, zero-knowledge encryption

The cloud can indeed change everyday lives!

 

Originally posted to our medium publication.  Follow us on medium to get the latest updates from us like this one!

Businesses Need to Fully Embrace Cloud Storage

Added on by odrive.

Cloud Adoption Is Not a Never-ending Story

There are soooo many good reasons to move your company’s files to the cloud. Cost reduction is the obvious one. No more hardware to manage or replace, no hardware admins to manage them. Turn your CapEx into OpEx. Let someone else worry about availability and access reliability. Make executing on your mobility strategy less of a hassle.

The cloud exists so that your storage resources can easily and elastically grow with your business needs. The requisite infrastructure-level technology is already here, and the opportunity to improve productivity while decreasing costs is too big to ignore.

But is practical implementation of a full cloud storage strategy really a pipe dream? Is it a neverending story or nightmare that businesses will get mired into?

 The NeverEnding Story ( Warner Bros. Pictures ). Image Credit:  mentalfloss.com

The NeverEnding Story (Warner Bros. Pictures). Image Credit: mentalfloss.com

We certainly hope not!

Instead of accepting defeat and being resigned to suboptimal solutions, there is an opportunity to attack the problems of today with solutions of today. If you’re thinking about moving your business to the cloud, please consider these points before making compromises that don’t need to be made. Go full cloud.

 

Don’t Settle for Hybrid Cloud

There are a lot of people pushing for Hybrid Cloud solutions these days, touting a supposedly obvious compromise… a “best of both worlds” solution (which actually just incorporates the costs of both worlds).

EMC and NetApp have certainly invested a lot into hybrid cloud solutions. A natural conclusion for on-premise providers whose turf is about to get trampled by the cloud armada. Surprisingly, you even have cloud-oriented companies like Microsoft going backwards into hybrid cloud territory. There’s a market there right now because companies feel like they cannot fully commit to the cloud.

However, many companies don’t realize they are settling for hybrid cloud only because of technological limitations that are largely going by the wayside. Much like how full electric cars will kill hybrid cars once technology develops more (e.g. longer range to relieve range anxiety, availability of charging network, etc.), the era of Hybrid Cloud has limited run. Once you have generally solved the range problem, then it’s better to do away with a car that has two powertrains — the additional crutch unnecessarily adds weight, takes up space, has more moving parts that can break, and increases engineering/manufacturing costs.

 The Tesla Model S (Image Credit:  https://www.teslamotors.com/models )

The Tesla Model S (Image Credit: https://www.teslamotors.com/models)

If you’re worried about security, bandwidth performance (LAN speed vs. WAN speed), or geographic data sovereignty, these problems are largely solved or mitigated enough by zero-knowledge encryption, intelligent sync solutions, and localized availability zone cloud storage. These don’t have to be reasons to compromise for normal file storage business use cases.

 

Stop Applying Obsolete Storage Models to Cloud Storage

Why does everything need to be on one storage endpoint? Why do people insist on looking for a holy grail of storage that may not exist?

James Casey, VP of Partner Engineering at Chef mentions that inter-clouding is something that will become more prevalent as companies multiple storage providers to meet the diverse needs of a business. This could mean that companies could “be in at least two clouds, maybe more”.

I wholeheartedly agree. Fortunately, the “scattered cloud” phenomena is a problem that can be dealt with. “One destination for everything” doesn’t have to mean one singular storage cloud. A better solution would be able to consolidate access to several clouds (much like an email client can tap into different email servers).

 You don’t need to choose just one. You just need meaningful, unified access to them.

You don’t need to choose just one. You just need meaningful, unified access to them.

Yes, we should acknowledge that fragmentation is a problem that is here to stay… data originates in different places, companies acquire other companies, different sets of users have different requirements, etc. But let’s not stop there — it doesn’t have to be a roadblock.

 

Protect Yourself

These days, it seems as if anyone and everyone is getting hacked. You can’t trust people in your own company, employees of your storage provider, and certainly not the wild west of the internet.

Make sure that what’s in the cloud is protected. But also give deep thought into how you can protect end-user devices in case laptops, tablets, and phones get lost or stolen. What level of risk can you afford, and how much can you rely on device hardware or operating systems to protect your data?

Also, while encryption is largely the solution for your security and compliance concerns, you need an implementation that is so seamless that your users won’t get confused. Totally seamless, zero-knowledge encryption that you take for granted is the only path out of the woods. You must control your keys.

Sure, computing power will continue to progress such that some day brute-force attacking an AES-256 encryption key will become possible. (Today, you’d have to wait a very, very, very long time). But most likely the information you’re encrypting will have outlived you and its relevancy.

 

So Where Does This Leave Us?

Your business can go full cloud. There is a movement afoot, and the businesses that are able to adopt a cloud storage strategy effectively will be at a distinct advantage over those that can’t. Right now there are additional pain points to be solved, for sure, but you can do it if you have the right big picture view of what you need to do. And even though it’s early, the tipping point is right around the corner where everyone will be able to easily ditch their expensive private storage infrastructure.

Companies like Dropbox, Box, and Google have been trying to help businesses overcome transitional costs of getting everything into the cloud. It’s true that every step along the way, from planning your strategy to picking the right provider(s), to data migration, to roll-out, to supporting your users can be stumbling block. Storage providers are making progress and will contribute to the narrative.

My company, www.odrive.com, has been making the transition easier for consumers, solving problems that consumers and small business owners encounter in their individual journeys to the cloud. Smarter ways to sync files, zero-knowledge encryption, easy migration, consolidation of scattered files across multiple devices and clouds… do these solutions to cloud adoption issues sound familiar?

We’re laying the groundwork to provide packaged solutions for business organizations to enjoy these benefits, too, so we can add the final piece to the puzzle. We should know — we have years of prior enterprise cloud storage experience built into our DNA, so we’ve always had the end in mind.

Stayed tuned to our Becoming odrive medium publication for more information about how odrive can help you get your business fully into the cloud!

It’s Time to Reimagine How to Store Files

Added on by odrive.

Existing physical and cloud storage are not good enough

 Everyone’s got important files… (Image: The Force Awakens, Disney)

Everyone’s got important files… (Image: The Force Awakens, Disney)

Files. They’ve been with us since the dawn of civilization and man’s first clumsy attempts at recorded communications.

Today we have files at work and files at home. Photos, word documents, billing statements, PDFs, and more. We can’t get away from them — they are so ridiculously useful as a portable unit of information.

But we need some way of managing them. We need to organize, share, and protect them. And to tuck them in at night, cuddle with them, and whisper words of comfort into their ears.

Sure, we’ve come a long way since prehistoric times, but it looks like a lot of the limitations we’ve lived with are still the same. Why should we put up with that? How can we truly reimagine the storage experience?

Let’s see if we can learn a little bit from the past.

 

The bad ol’ days of physical storage

 Ancient Sumerian files. Heavy stuff.

Ancient Sumerian files. Heavy stuff.

It took several millennia for humanity to stop messing around with cave drawings, cuneiform tablets, scroll cases, and codices. We graduated to more sophisticated-looking versions of these things: manila folders, filing cabinets, book shelves. Graffiti. Trapper Keepers. That box of random papers in the corner of your bedroom with credit card statements from 2004. Not cool.

It’s basically still the same old thing. Physical document storage… insecure, vulnerable to destruction, and an unwieldy pain in the butt.

 

Better, faster, cheaper. Still limited.

The invention of record players, magnetic tape drives, cassette tapes, VCR tapes, floppy disks, and CD-RWs brought more interesting possibilities. Data was suddenly more portable. You could copy it more easily. But it was still subject to access issues. You needed to have the physical media present with you. You still worried about theft, loss, destruction, and degradation. You had to make copies of media in order to share it. It was frustratingly difficult to keep organized.

The 90s brought these relics… recognize these?

 iomega Zip and Jaz drives. Don’t laugh, they were awesome, briefly.

iomega Zip and Jaz drives. Don’t laugh, they were awesome, briefly.

You might be chuckling, but honestly, are the things we’ve replaced them with really THAT much better conceptually?

 The USB replacements… hits closer to home now, doesn’t it?

The USB replacements… hits closer to home now, doesn’t it?

They’re smaller, faster, and are higher capacity, for sure. But they’re just better versions of records, tapes, and floppy disks. Still flawed, still hard to access and organize, and still prone to hardware failure. (Who’s ever made a backup of a backup before?)

 

A connected world

Here’s where things start to get interesting.

Back in the day, FTP was “great” for smaller files (and knowledgeable users) as a primitive internet-based technology for storing and sharing files. But it was way too slow, limited and clunky.

 A Drobo FS 5-bay NAS. Yup, I’ve still got one of those.

A Drobo FS 5-bay NAS. Yup, I’ve still got one of those.

NAS helped fill the gap by making it easier to store, access, and transfer your files while you were in the local network. You could even share files and set up permissions with people in your household or small business. But what about when you left the building? What about dealing with high costs of ownership (failed disks, constantly needing to expand capacity, etc.)? Who would want to maintain physical hardware themselves when someone else could do it better and more cheaply?

 Ubiquitous cloud storage. Something for everybody.

Ubiquitous cloud storage. Something for everybody.

Faster internet and Dropbox ushered in the era of affordable Cloud Storage with promises of anytime, anywhere access. Elasticity and scalability. Redundancy for guaranteed availability and protection against hardware failure. Application layer capabilities like sharing, file comments, versioning, and more. Yes, cloud storage IS truly awesome, and we believe in it.

But unfortunately for most people, problems kept lurking under the surface...

  • “How do I get ALL of my files into the cloud? How do I live and work in the cloud?”
  • “What happens when my cloud storage provider goes out of business?”(RIP, Copy.com)
  • “How do I keep my cloud storage provider from viewing my files?”
  • “What if I have multiple storage accounts?”
  • “What if I have multiple storage accounts from the same provider?”

 

A reimagined world

Another remake of the same movie isn’t enough. If we were to reimagine what storage should be like, we wouldn’t want any of those old limitations. The tenets of new storage would be:

  • Everyone should be able to fully adopt cloud storage, actually taking advantage of low cost, unlimited storage. Moving everything into the cloud shouldn’t be such a struggle.
  • Nobody should be tied to a single cloud storage provider. We should be free to pick and choose which providers we want, mixing and matching according to our needs.
  • It should be convenient to access any cloud storage that we have by going to one place.
  • We should be able to consume our files from any of our devices whenever we want.
  • We should all feel safe about the files we put into the cloud.

But the world at large is stuck in the past era of storage. We have scattered cloud storage accounts. We cling to our physical media as well — USB drives gathering dust, unsorted photos sitting in SD cards, files scattered on old laptop and desktop computers.

How do we move on?

 

The future is already here

 Live in the clouds with odrive

Live in the clouds with odrive

The point of the cloud is that it is no longer about physical limitations. Files should be completely portable. Having files scattered all over the place is also not a problem — it may even be the new way of life. We just need a way to collect it all together so that it stays accessible, organized, and portable forever.

 

At odrive, we’ve been focused on bringing people into this next era. With odrive, you can connect all of your cloud storage accounts — even multiple accounts from the same provider — and sync your work files and personal files to your desktop. Use a single provider (e.g. Amazon Drive and its $60/yr unlimited storage plan), or use many. Connect to storage in Europe if you’re in Europe. Pick your storage like you would any other kind of service provider.

You have many choices, but your storage is always unified and organized, not scattered.

 

Install odrive on your Mac, PC, or Linux computers. Get your files using our webclient if you need to.

Sync files the odrive way… sync only what you need and see everything else as placeholder files which don’t take up disk space. Unsync files when you’re done with them to turn them back into placeholders.

Share weblinks or share storage easily against any of your linked storage accounts, and manage sharing from one place.

Your stuff is always accessible, shareable, and portable... Not confined or unmanageable.

 

Connect to non-traditional storage, including apps like Facebook, Instagram,Slack, and Hipchat. Even that content can be portable, too.

Use our CLI to automate specific tasks or to empower your server environments.

Feel confident that no matter how much data you have or how big your files are, odrive can help you get everything into the cloud. Worried about a bad network connection killing your large file upload? Our infinite file size feature splits large files into smaller pieces behind the scenes.

Your odrive is flexible, even if the storage you’re connecting to isn’t.

 

Encrypt your files using Zero Knowledge encryption so that nobody in the chain of custody except for you can access your files. Take matters into your own hand and don’t settle for promises of security.

Your files are safe. Encrypt them and make sure only you have the key... Not odrive. Not your storage provider.

 

File storage should be unified, safe, and flexible. And it should be available for everybody. You can have it right now… Get odrive today and start storing your files the right way.

-Jeff

 

P.S. Why didn’t the Star Wars rebellion just use the cloud?!?! Instead, they concocted an unnecessarily complicated scheme involving a USB stick, an X-wing starfighter pilot courier, and a confusing IFTTT recipe to end a sleep loop on a navigation droid. (Should’ve used odrive to access, protect, and share their files.)

Your files, your way: See what you want. Sync what you need.

Added on by Tony Magliulo.

The attraction to cloud storage is undeniable. A near-infinite resource at our fingertips to store the mountains of personal and professional data that we humans have become extremely adept at creating. As users gleefully rush headlong into the cloud storage era, pushing up anything and everything they can, new challenges are being encountered. How can the vast cloud be effectively utilized within the finite medium of a local computer?

File Virtualization with sync

File Virtualization is the method of representing a file system structure without needing to have everything exist locally on your computer. When you add sync to the equation this solution becomes a compelling means of working with structures that cannot exist locally. Browse everything, but have nothing cached locally until you need it.  Microsoft’s changes to OneDrive on Windows 8.1 showed users the power of this type of solution, until they took it away in Windows 10 … :(

File Virtualization with sync is extremely useful, but it is a solution that will start to break down at scale. Tracking changes across a vast structure, even without local caching, can render this solution unusable or so delayed and out of sync that its utility is severely reduced. As your dataset expands, the percentage of data that you actually need to focus on shrinks. Why spend cycles monitoring and tracking storage structures that you don’t care about, especially when there is a good chance that nothing is happening there?

Progressive Sync

Progressive Sync is the evolution of file virtualization. The premise behind progressive sync is that you do not need to have visibility into every nook and cranny of your storage at all times. Instead, you need visibility into specific areas of your data. These areas can change dynamically, depending on your immediate need, so on-demand collapsing and expanding of the visible structure needs to be available.

Not using progressive sync is a bit like trying to engage in conversation with your best friend by talking to everyone you know, simultaneously. It is going to be very slow, utterly confusing, and ultimately result in a big a waste of time and energy. Focusing on that single conversation with your best friend removes the confusion and irrelevant information and allows you to prioritize for the task at hand. Communication is quick, precise, and meaningful. This is what progressive sync does for you and your files. Engage (sync folder), discuss (sync files), disengage (unsync folder), repeat.

Progressive sync is the only solution available that can allow you to efficiently use near-infinite cloud storage within the constraints imposed by today’s devices.

Sync, the way you need it.

odrive offers progressive sync for all of your storage. You choose what you need to see. You choose what you want to sync. The ability to effectively map the vastness of cloud storage to your tiny local device is available to every odrive user, for free.

When you first start using odrive you will see all of the storage you have linked available as .cloudfx stubs in the root of your odrive folder. A double-click will expand that folder, browse you into it, and sync all the the files at that level according to global auto download limit you have set.

Simply browse through the file system to expose the directories you want to see. Tweak the auto download limit to fine tune what you need synced. Utilize the “sync all” feature to bring into view an entire directory structure. Use “unsync” to collapse a specified structure, removing it from view and allowing you to focus on your next priority.

Using all of these features together gives you ultimate flexibility for utilizing and managing your storage. See what you want and sync what you need with odrive.

To read more about odrive sync:

https://medium.odrive.com/sync-differently-b993694e1544#.y8823rsvw

https://medium.odrive.com/unsync-is-the-missing-link-to-cloud-storage-539493c384c1#.egwnn2gpq

You're now free to choose between all storage

Added on by Jeff Lin.

This past weekend, I replaced a fan on my Drobo FS, a NAS unit that has been part of my digital life for over four years.  As I waded through tiny screws and cramped steel casing to get to the internals, I kept thinking to myself "why am I wasting my time with this?" And "why haven't I moved everything (mostly photos) to one of those recent free unlimited storage providers like Google Photos or Amazon Cloud Drive?"

  Attribution: Sergiodlarosa | Wikimedia Commons

 Attribution: Sergiodlarosa | Wikimedia Commons

My NAS, My Mastodon

For years, I've been lovingly referring to my NAS as a mastodon.  A powerful, strong, useful beast... that will eventually become extinct.  Cloud storage would surely win.  No hardware to personally maintain.  Ultimate elasticity and redundancy.  Much lower total cost of ownership.  A NAS with disks could cost upwards of $600 or $700, which could instead be user to pay for many years of unlimited cloud storage.  The cost of cloud storage has essentially been a big fat race to zero.  So what's my problem, and why am I living in the past?

Ultimately, I'm still anxious about privacy and skeptical about some of the true costs of free storage.  For example, Google Photos has a powerful search feature for my uploaded photos where I was able to enter a search for "watermelon" and find a picture from last year of my little girl wearing a watermelon dress.  While this is a killer feature for end-users, I also find it to be a bit unnerving.

Projecting into the future, Google will have yet an even better idea of where I've been and what I've been doing.  Demographic and psychographic marketing will be considered child's play compared to having total individual information about me.  If I upload camping pictures every month of me in an Arcteryx jacket, sipping on a can of Pepsi, then I'm probably going to be served Pepsi ads all day until my laptop gets diabetes.  I won't be able to go a day without seeing jackets, tents, and other gear from REI, The North Face, and Patagonia on sale. I won't be able to escape my consumer self.

Not everybody is squeamish about these kinds of things.  Today, for much of my data, it doesn't really matter.  But tomorrow may be a different story--when is too much information too much power?  I'm very interested in seeing how cloud storage and privacy evolve over the next decade.  There may be paid services that grow out of backlash against information harvesting.  Encryption, security, and two-factor authentication may quickly become more of a concern in the near future, at least for certain personal files and work files.

When it comes to storage, I am Pro-choice

Fortunately, in a multiverse of both storage options and user needs, a product like odrive can level the playing field and facilitate choices.  Without odrive, it would be painful to use multiple storage sources for content with different needs and contexts (e.g. OneDrive for my documents, Amazon Cloud Drive for my photos, a Google Drive account for work files, a personal Google Drive account, etc.).  With odrive it's simple... you can tailor a blended storage strategy according to the specific needs of your data--be it privacy, security, cost, accessibility features, reliability, compliance, or anything else.

So for now, I will keep my mastodon and move my photo archive to Amazon Cloud Drive (sorry, Google).  Fortunately, I have odrive File Server running on another computer at home so I can conveniently access my Drobo's contents as well.  Will there ever be a one-size-fits-all solution for all of my data?  I don't think so.  And with odrive, it doesn't matter.  Every provider can be a winner by providing the best solution for a particular use case, and every user can be a winner by using a combination of the best tools available.

Storage providers will come and go, but with odrive you can fluidly combine and organize your files so you're never forced to choose just one.

- Jeff