One of the best products of the last decade has been the advent of cloud based file syncing between computers/devices. When I first heard of Dropbox, it was intriguing, and they gave you (I think) 2GB free (this was circa 2011), and you could upgrade to 100GB for a nominal fee.
The wicked cool thing was that it allowed you to keep files between your computers all in sync, and it was brain-dead simple. Install the app, allow it to create the DropBox folder, move or copy files to that, and then BOOM, everything was magically there on all your attached computers.
Of course, Dropbox didn’t have a terribly defensible market space. The technology to emulate was widely available, and soon there were plenty of copycats to choose from.
That first year I gladly paid the money, and continued to pay it. My wife and I use it to share files with each other (works great), the LAN sync is cool, that it allows two computers/devices on the same network to sync without hitting the cloud (and the slower external network connection).
However, over the years, I have gotten other solutions “bundled”. I am an Apple person, and you pretty much must have some extra iCloud storage to function (photos in particular works well, but the unified Documents folder and Desktop makes life easy for those of us who have more than one computer.
I am also a subscriber to Google G-Suite (for my home email) and with that I get 40GB of Google File Drive Sync.
And, now that I have Microsoft365 as well (because I need the latest Microsoft Office applications), that comes with a ‘free’ 1TB of sync’d storage.
I bet you can guess where I am going with this…
File Sync Chaos
Indeed, I have various files across all these solutions. Some work “research” lived in the Google Drive File Stream (note: just publicly available things in there, nothing internal or confidential), as well as a lot of processed pictures. I have never been an Android person, so there was not much from my phone/tablet in ther.
Dropbox is a bit of a mess. I started with the great intentions of keeping it clean and tidy, but that didn’t last. Over the years it has grown into a muddle, with a lot of cruft. Also shared directories with a lot of people.
iCloud has been easier to keep clean, and I purchase 200GB extra storage, plenty for my wife and I to keep our Photos databases in.
And then there is the TB that I get with Microsoft365 home. That was mostly some noise, but it was the easiest to organize.
I will point out that Dropbox has tried mightily to increase their stickiness. They have added automatic phone image backup, and recently capabilities to manage passwords, and do proper computer backups. But these seem to me like desperate attempts to remain dominant, somewhat of how Everenote lost their mojo, and not reasons for me at least to remain a customer.
I have decided to improve the organization of my folder structure on the Microsoft OneDrive, and to move all my other “sync’d” files to it.
The Google Drive Filestream was pretty easy. Just fired up the CommanderOne app, and moves/organized the files.
The small amount of clean up on the iCloud storage literally took like 5 minutes. Yawn.
The real challenge has been Dropbox. As my first sync solution, it was, shall we say, Crufty. No discipline, directories that duplicated each other, repetition of files, a bunch of music that I scratched my head at for how it was filed. And a lot of temporary files from when I was the web master for the Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption organization (about 6G of files, images, and notes).
I have *MOST* of the Dropbox cleaned out, and I will convert to a “Free” tier account (I still get people sharing things with me via Dropbox, but I no longer consider it my “primary” syncing solution.)
Google Drive File Stream is empty. That is one less thing to worry about when I finally move away from G-Suite for our family’s email handling (motivated to move because I have no trust in Google’s commitment to not mine my messages).
I have a lot less clutter, and I feel pretty good about that. I feel like I am in control of where my files sit. And I trust Microsoft to not peek at my data and use it to market to me (that may be misplaced faith, but at least Microsoft doesn’t make their money via advertising).
Next up is to do something about the homeless abortion that is my extended ePub books. That will take some fortification to dive into and organize.
But that is for another day.