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,
  • “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.



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.)