Added on by odrive.

How file sharing in Slack is transforming how teams work


It’s a thing. I’m calling it.


This was first coined by an odrive customer — the managing partner of a venture capital firm — who was using our Slack integration, along with several cloud storages like Google Drive.

We asked about his company’s workflows and he stated:

“[W]e are doing more and more of our doc transfers in slack channels. 
So the channel as a folder concept is interesting.”

This confirmed what I have surmised is happening in the workplace. Companies and teams are using messaging apps like Slack and Hipchat for file transfer more than any other apps — even ones that are bought for file transfer and even more than email.

I saw this question on Quora recently:

This growing trend makes sense. Files are transferred during team communications, when real-time discussions lead to many ad hoc file transfers. Relevant files and communications grouped together adds contextual value to the workflow. I wrote about this previously.

File sharing happens at the point of context.

The real kicker of Slack is the easy way you can make everything a channel. Take a look at the current view of my channels:

The common channels are what you’d expect: “marketing”, “general” and “product”. Ummm, “ramenclub”? I’m embarrassed to say that it’s a real channel, a very important one at that!

However, we also create a channel for every feature that is being worked on, every business issue that pops up. Really, anything that requires a group communication, boom, a new channel.

And for every channel, there is a folder.

Having all my channels as a folder is valuable to me because my file system is where I access and work on all my files. My Slack folders are sync’d to my team when we communicate in Slack. This workflow has helped me work better with my team.

How can you work less hard with Slack? Find out what value you get from having every channel-as-a-folder on your desktop.

It’s definitely a thing.




Are You Promiscuous With Cloud Storage?

Added on by odrive.

Linking multiple accounts can be good for your business


I love cloud storage! Who doesn’t?

It’s plentiful and free. It’s safe even when you share a lot. It doesn’t judge when you upload all the stuff you wouldn’t want anyone to know you owned. It still loves you back when you ignore it until you need your stuff.

And you don’t need to be faithful to any one cloud storage. It does not play hard to get; it is easy to get some. You can try different flavors or even sign up for multiple accounts of the same flavor.

If you practice polyamory — love of multiple clouds — like I do, you know that such freedom of love comes with a price. It is a drag to browse and login to every account. It is an irritant to logout and login, one by one, over and over again. Having your content everywhere can give you pain in all the wrong places.

Lucky for me, I have odrive in my life.

One application, one login

As you can see, I am quite the flirt.

While a flirt, I also do not break up with my clouds. I have dated different clouds over the years depending on the use case and needs at the time. I’ve married some clouds whose values were very strong, while some others I just stayed in it because of the kids, I mean, data.

For one cloud — Google Drive — I have linked to two separate accounts, one for family and one for work.

There is really no limit how many accounts you link to, or which clouds. You can link to multiple Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive or Google. Some people do it to aggregate the free storage that comes with each account.

Many odrive users do it to run their business, smarter.

Learn to love to link a lot for business

If you are polyamorous in your business, you are likely drowning in data sorrow. odrive can turn your tears into joy.

You may want to create a separate account for each client or per project. It is an easy way for businesses to create a secure sharing environment for each engagement.

Today, cloud is pervasive. It is easy to get but not always easy to use in a way that can drive up productivity.

odrive now makes the union of your business with all your clouds — a happy ending.

Get even more promiscuous today!



Completing The Slack Office Makeover

Added on by odrive.

Add the missing ingredient for total Slack domination


We all know and love Slack for making work communication fun. It’s a messaging service for team collaboration, with heavy splashes of color, interrupting bots, and lots of emoji.

Beyond the design, it’s actually quite useful. Two things that stand out to me is that it’s far superior to (1) email and (2) meetings.

I hate email strings, not knowing what is attached, where it ends and picks up, and who is on the effing cc or bcc. Slack un-hides all of that, and places it in context for dynamic ongoing discussion and preserves for later historical recapture.

Slack also has reduced team meetings to almost zero, as team channels capture ideas and inspirations as they happen and as they develop. Less chit chat, more typing of what is relevant. When we do have live meetings, we often fill a team channel in advance of the meeting with documents and the agenda.

With both email and meetings covered in spades, Slack has become the digital office, except that it’s missing some really good filing cabinets.

Perhaps by accident or by design — for whatever reason — Slack is the place where we transfer files, lots of it, practically everything.

It makes sense that this is happening, because working around files is part of how teams work and Slack has brought down the barriers to how teams work.

In the past, you may have queued up an email and carefully considered the attachments; or, in preparation for an office meeting, you gathered documents together and printed out multiple sets for every attendee. With Slack, you just hit the “+” and add your file, in mid stream, in real time, in context, all the time.

Slack, however, does not manage files so well. And that makes sense, too, because Slack was designed for messaging, not files.

“A file is worth a thousand words”

Ok, I may have bastardized the old Chinese saying. But it’s true that files say a lot about what teams are doing or working on.

The problem with files in Slack is finding them, accessing them, and organizing them. This is where the odrive integration comes in to save the day.

Organized. You can directly access all your files in Slack channels and direct messages as individual folders on your desktop file system.

Direct access. You don’t need to download the files posted in Slack. You’ll find them on your local desktop, automatically and instantly.

Gallery view. You can take a gallery tour of a room that has tons of pictures for easy sorting.

Bi-directional sync. Unlike the British music sensation, our sync goes in Two Directions. If you add new files or make a saved edit, these will automatically post to your Slack channel or private message. This means that you and your team can stay *N Sync whether you are messaging in Slack or working locally on your files. (Sorry for the homage to boy bands).

What do you think so far?

We think the combination of odrive and Slack is so hot, like 98 Degrees hot. As a newly formed duo on the market, we may be the New Kids On The Block, but I can easily see odrive and Slack being used by every team, in every office, in every Backstreet. Boys and girls will love it! (can you tell we really love boy bands?)

If you haven’t yet, try it today as odrive is the Featured act in Slack’s app store:

Stay tuned to this radio dial, because there is a lot more to come.

Slack’s API, documentation and integration team have been amazing, like with a capital “A”. Love them!

They quickly updated their API to accommodate a file handling method that we needed to make this magic. I feel that there is a lot more we can do to enhance the file experience with Slack.

So let us know what odrive and Slack can do together to make you less busy.



Sync Differently

Added on by odrive.

Making effective use of unlimited cloud storage

Congratulations! You now have lots of cloud storage, maybe even unlimited cloud storage.

You’ve somehow been able to stuff as much your stuff into the cloud as you can. And why the heck not? Cloud storage makes your content shareable and safe. And it’s unlimited!

Sync is great, for a while

In terms of users, the most popular cloud storage today is Dropbox. It is popular largely because of one feature: sync. When a user drops a file into a Dropbox folder, it automatically goes up into the Dropbox cloud and is mirrored onto every device and machine of the user.

Sync is the perfect user experience when your content is up there (in the cloud), and you want it here (local) wherever you go (on all your devices and machines).

Sync seems like magic when your content is a trickle of photos or documents to share. It works like a charm; your content is everywhere.

When you add more content, the magic starts to sputter. Despite the hiccups and inconvenience, you soldier on because sync is still better than anything else and there’s no going back from cloud storage.

Once you got unlimited cloud storage, and move all your stuff into the cloud, you start learning that unlimited comes with a lot of limitations!

The user experience starts to fall apart, in the following ways:

  1. Slow to initialize (startup experience)
  2. Slow sync (ongoing experience)
  3. Unreliable (lost or corrupted files)
  4. Unresponsive (stuck)
  5. Uncommunicative (no badging or indication of sync status)
  6. Exhausted local storage (much smaller than your cloud storage)

This last one is a silent killer.

Running on empty

Very few people think about their local disk storage volume. It gets bigger all the time, and this is true for the most part on laptops and desktops, though not as much on smart phones and tablet devices. The effective storage is actually much less because much of the native storage is taken up by the apps and other processes running in your machine.

The effective vs. native storage narrative, however, doesn’t matter. The amount of local disk storage is not keeping up with the amount of data you are generating, nor with the amount of data you are pushing into the cloud. Not even close.

The inadequate local disk storage does matter with sync — at least traditional sync like Dropbox’s sync engine. Files are copied to every machine running the Dropbox client software.

What’s the problem? Let’s say you have 1 TB of content in the Dropbox cloud, and you have the Dropbox client software on your company desktop machine in the office and on your personal laptop. This means that you must have at least 1 TB of effective local disk storage on each of your machines, in order for you to access your data locally.

Not many people have that much local storage. A new laptop these days typically has 250 GBs. My laptop has 120 GBs. Those are total storage numbers.

Ruh roh? Yes, Scooby.

Selective Sync relieves the symptom

One solution to the local disk storage problem is “Selective Sync,” where only certain file content is local while everything is in the cloud.

Dropbox’s implementation of Selective Sync requires a user to pick the top level folders to sync from its web client console.

There are a couple of fundamental problems with this implementation. One, the user needs to pre-declare what to make local and what to hold back. This requires the user to know what is in the folders, at any given time, even as the content of the folder changes and the need to files change. Two, this implementation defeats the entire reason you love sync, which is that you can access all your content from every device.

At best, Dropbox’s selective sync mitigates the symptom but kills the patient.

Sync had to get better or the data explosion that is happening in this world will destroy the cloud experience.

Progressive Sync cures the patient

We, at odrive, wanted to build a sync engine that allows a user to have a native file experience to all content, of infinite size, with no constraints.

This is Progressive Sync.

Progressive Sync virtualizes the entire file system structure so that you expand or contract the view of your files and folders when you want it (bring to local) and when you don’t want it (remove from local but still accessible on demand).

The browsing is natural. You open a folder by double clicking on it, which then opens the contents of that folder. If you want to open a file, you double click on it and it downloads. If you see a subfolder, you double click to open it. Or any folder, really. And so on.

There are advanced features that allow you to configure the browsing and download experience, but you will naturally discover that enhanced experience when you need to.

When you are done working on the files or just want to free your local disk, you can unsync. Although the content is no longer local, it is still safely stored in your cloud storage waiting for you to double click its corresponding stub file, naturally.

A sync showdown

As you can see, the difference is stark and the choice is clear.

As you will feel, the improvement in user experience is dramatic.

The promise of unlimited is good again

So let me give you a snapshot of my local data life.

Here is a current view of my local file system, where I have some clouds in active use (signified by the folders with the check) and some that are completely off my computer (as signified by the pink tabbed folders).

Here is a current view of the storage on my Mac.

You wouldn’t know it but I actually have about a half TB of content in the cloud. The amount of content that I use locally at any point in time is a very small subset of my cloud content.

That is the brilliance of Progressive Sync — see everything but store as close to nothing as you want — locally.

It’s a beautiful day in my datahood

How do I keep my data world sane and orderly? Here is a basic flow of my data experience from beginning migration to everyday management.

Step One. On day one, I migrated all my data from my local directories, phone and tablet to the cloud. My choice was Amazon Cloud Drive; I had purchased its unlimited cloud storage plan. Most of my content is made up of pictures and videos. I also have work files, which are interspersed in different clouds like Google Drive and Slack.

Step Two. After the data migration completed, I unsync’d everything so that I had only a zero-byte stub file locally, representing all my cloud content.

Step Three. At any time, I usually keep a single folder of working files local. I progressively sync down files as I need them; I leave them local unless it’s a really large file in which case I unsync the file as soon as I’m done with that file.

Step Four. If I am working on a new project or require access to a new set of files, I find the folder of content I need and right-click and sync down all the files in the folder. When I am done with my task, I unsync the entire folder.

I consider myself an advanced but light user of the cloud. We hear of users on our forum who exceed 100 TBs of content. That sounds insane but that is probably closer to the average cloud user today and may very well be the new normal in a few short years.

Future proof your data storage needs with Progressive Sync — native file access to infinity.

Get to know how it feels to sync to unlimited everything today!


To read more about odrive sync:

If Email Is Dead, Why Is Everyone Still Using It?

Added on by odrive.

How to make email workflow mo' better for you


Email needs a better PR agency. We all use it; even Dilbert. We use it for everything.

If you listen to tech pundits, however, email has died a thousand deaths. It sucks at everything. Every other day, a startup has built an app that is yet another email killer.

If email was a person, she would give out this newsflash:

Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Indeed, email is here to stay. Over 205 billion emails are sent everyday, and growing.

In the workplace, it has been a tireless workhorse. It does the heavy lifting for everything from project management to document editing.

One area where email may be losing usage is conversation, at least for millennials.

Instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, SnapChat, and Wechat have proven to be the superior form of personal communication; while Slack and Hipchat are the early winners for team messaging.

One area where email is unbeatable — file transfer.

Email is used across organizations, across the globe, and across generations (my mom and eight year old son use email), and across systems (any device, any OS).

Email is the lingua franca of internet communications.

Nothing can beat email for how easy, familiar and flexible it is to send files to anyone, anywhere and on any device.

The problems with email come after the transfer is made.

Working with file attachments is clunky

This should be familiar to anyone who uses email. I can safely assume that includes you.

Everyday, you get a lot of emails. You may open some, and ignore some others. Some emails may include an attached file, and some don’t. When you do want a file attachment, you must download it. You may or may not know where it was downloaded to. Then you forget about it.

After a few months and years of this, you have effectively created a Black Hole that sucks in every email attachment. There are files that are important to you, buried in your inbox.

Accessing file attachments, and then finding what you want when you want them, have become recurring pains-in-the-arse.

Making a better email workflow

Odrive has an awesome integration with Gmail. With over 1 billion monthly active users, you are likely a Gmail user.

odrive has eliminated the problems of accessing, finding and organizing file attachments.

Instead of having to download file attachments, you can directly access them from your desktop in folders organized by “Recent”, “Contacts”, and “Labels”. (How these work and may fit into your workflow are discussed further below.)

This provides you with automatic organization of the files that are important to you, without you having to decide where to download them. Automatic is good, right?

You can now find the file attachments you are looking for, when you want them — on your desktop.

Recent. odrive captures in one folder all your file attachments from the last month. For most people’s daily workflows, this will be the most useful way to find files. It’s a proven fact that our most useful files usually comprise of the most recent vintage.

Contact. odrive also organizes your file attachments, per sender. Chances are, you work with roughly the same group of individuals at any one time. As this changes, from time to time and project to project, organizing by sender is a great way to find historical files.

Labels. Gmail allows you to tag files with “labels”. There are some pre-set labels, but you can also create new, customized labels.

odrive creates folders consisting of emails that have been tagged by your labels. This is a great way to organize what is important to you across email topics, across conversations, and across users.

This is email tricked out with odrive. This is how email should be.

Vive l’email!

Email has endured a bad rap, even as it labors on as the Swiss Army knife of office productivity. It’s not going away so you might as well make email work mo’ better for you.

Instagram Is More Than Just A Pretty Face

Added on by odrive.

Sync Instagram photos onto your computer and do more!


Instagram is a canvas for creativity. You post photos for your friends and family to see, even admire. In turn, you view their photos and “like” some to express your appreciation.

Instagram is a gorgeous, visual smorgasbord but it is virtually impossible to efficiently find and download the photos you need, especially when you need to work with a lot of photos.

With over 400 million users, Instagram is more than just a viewing platform. People and businesses have started relying on it for much more and want to do more with Instagram.

What would happen if there were desktop sync to your Instagram?

Anything becomes possible.

Making the hard, easy

If you’ve been reading the Becoming odrive publication, you’ll notice a consistent theme running through the stories: we make hard to access data, easier to access by syncing it to your desktop file system.

You read how odrive helps Slack to become the ultimate digital office and how odrive makes email better.

odrive is able to do this by simply making your files readily available where you work around files. We can’t predict how you will use the files, but we strive to present them in ways that optimize their utility for how you may want to use the files.

With our Instagram integration, we present photos in 3 distinct folders on your desktop.

  1. My Posts. This is a collection of all the photos you’ve ever posted to your Instagram.
  2. Posts I liked. This is a collection of all the photos that you have liked by tapping on that heart. You see it, you want it — then just tap it. It will be right there in your odrive folder.
  3. Hashtags. This allows you to bulk download photos that have been marked with a specific hashtag. In the screenshot above, the folder labeled “#mets” will contain all the photos tagged with #mets.

The possibilities are endless with desktop sync

What can you do with all the photos in Instagram at your fingertips? An Instagram Wall Calendar, of course!

You can read more from Joe Kuffner how he made this work of art. This was a project that was years in the making. He had asked students to post photos with hashtag #UP, effectively using Instagram as a distributed photo capture device. Smart!

The number of photos had built up into several thousands — what would Joe have done before odrive? He would have had to click on each photo and save it to his local file system — one by one.

Lucky for Joe, he did have odrive.

He created a hashtag folder for #UP, which automatically sync’d all photos with that hashtag. He was able to flip through the photos, select the ones he needed, and then print them. That’s it!

We can’t measure precisely but we’ll take Joe’s word that odrive saved him

“tons of time.”

What do you want to do with your Instagram files?

We’d love to hear all about it!



Strong Encryption for Everyone

Added on by odrive.

In the history of technology, there's always been a tension between security and convenience. This tension is nowhere more apparent than with encryption given the public concern over personal privacy and National Security objectives. And no matter how many data breaches are publicized (or even if a user experiences personal identity theft), there is not widespread adoption of encryption technology. Convenience and apathy win out every time for most.

Strong encryption for everyone -- an impossible challenge?

Odrive has met the challenge, we think. As you already know, odrive is known for allowing you to link all your clouds and storages, and access them all in one place.

Now, you can create encryption folders for any storage that you already use. This is key. You do not need to set up a separate storage environment to set up encryption. Encryption folders work exactly like any other folders except everything is automatically encrypted before data leaves your computer.

Snowden-approved Cloud Storage

In 2014, Edward Snowden, the N.S.A. whistle blower famously directed people to “get rid of Dropbox” because it is not encrypted. With odrive, you can keep your Dropbox and everything else without defying Snowden. Odrive turns vanilla storage into strongly encrypted, secure cloud storage.

With odrive, the Cloud only sees and stores your encrypted information. Odrive has “Zero Knowledge” of your secret passphrase that is required to decrypt your data. This means that you stay in complete control of your privacy.

For Snowden, this type of individual encryption for the masses is music to his ears. For the NSA, where encryption keys are not knowable to the cloud or the provider, snooping will be impossible.

The Reigning Terror of Apathy is Over?

With odrive, you can easily protect your privacy without sacrificing convenience. Of course, not everyone will do it, but they can and should, as we've made it really easy to secure your cloud.

Learn how and secure your cloud today!



The most efficient sync for all your storage, on any planet

Added on by Tony Magliulo.

Okay, so you may not find yourself on Mars any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taking advantage of the most efficient sync engine available for all of your storage.

odrive’s Progressive Sync engine, utilizing placeholders for both files and folders, allows the quickest, most efficient way to sync exactly what you need.  Navigate directly to the content you want without having to first wait for your entire cloud to sync locally.

Have a single file buried 5 folders deep inside a directory with 500 items? No problem. odrive can navigate there and grab that single file within seconds of linking your storage. Nothing is downloaded unless you want it to be.

So, the next time you find yourself on Mars, trying to maximize a scant 0.5KB/s connection within a small window of opportunity, or just back on Earth, where you simply value your time and precious SSD space, use odrive. Sync only what you need, when you need it, across all of your storage.

Use the best of the best. Use odrive!

To read more about odrive sync: