It used to be real simple - floppy disks carried from computer to computer, a sneaker-net.
Then came a hard drive for your computer, but you still used a sneaker-net with floppies. Next came ethernet wiring for a real network. When modems arrived you could access files and even programs remotely with Citrix over telephone lines.
The Internet changed everything again, making it possible for your server to be in the cloud using Dropbox. Now all my stuff is in the Cloud, and storage via Dropbox has been joined by my three Google Drive accounts, plus an iCloud Drive, plus the special cases of photo and music storage.
Things were simple; then they got complicated; then simple again; and now they are complicated again.
It's time for a reset.
As I search for simplicity, I find that it is equally about convenience and money.
It's not a matter of trust. Every option works just the way I want it to. The problem is that too many storage options have ingratiated themselves. All too frequently, it is taking a frustrating amount of time to find the file I want.
When Dropbox replaced our network, we organized it like our file server. This is how - here and here. I still use Dropbox like this.
Nowadays most of my ’working’ files are in iCloud Drive, and most of my ’stored’ files are in Dropbox. Those stored files could be just about anywhere. I started out thinking they would go in Google Drive, the cheapest storage solution.
In hindsight the problem started with Google Drive. Our Google Apps account for email provided 25 GB of storage for email, email attachments and anything else you wanted to save. Besides this storage, Google provides a spreadsheet app, ’Sheets’, and a word processor, ’Docs’, along with several others. Sheets and Docs are handy if you want to ignore the dark side, Microsoft. I do. It turns out that Sheets and Docs work just fine as spreadsheet and word processor alternatives, free alternatives by the way. They also work on iOS devices. This is really handy. I can avoid the dark side wherever I go. So slowly you find yourself making a home on Google Drive for all those Microsoft files. Many of them used to be in Dropbox. So now there are two places where they could be. (Actually, with my three Google email accounts, there are four places.)
Of course Apple isn’t helping the situation. I use six iOS apps now that store files in iCloud Drive. I'm sure the number of apps will grow steadily. The benefit is that iCloud Drive allows you to simply open any file on whatever device you happen to be using. Very convenient. Addicting. But now I have three (5?) places where a file might be.
Amazingly the complexity isn't overwhelming, but minor searches are a daily occurrence. I need to concentrate on one solution.
Google was my first choice because it is right there in your email app, and $20/yr would buy 100GB of storage, which is enough for everything including a copy of all the old office files. But...there is some confusion created when you open MS files with Google’s tools. You end up with two copies. Which is which?
Other files like DWGs must be downloaded and uploaded after editing. So everything can be in one place but not without some other issues.
So why not just go back to Dropbox for everything? To open and edit the 'dark side' files you have to link a copy of the MS programs. I'm NOT doing that. I have made my last purchase from Microsoft. Period. And the cost of Dropbox is pricy by comparison with the other options. $100/yr for 1 TB even though I only need 1/10 of that space. And I have those iCloud Drive apps to consider. They won't work as seamlessly with Dropbox.
I really thought the solution would be Google Drive or Dropbox.
So surprisingly, iCloud Drive is my final choice. Not because I am a fanboy. I didn't even consider it at first. But I think it will work out the best.
I have moved everything into iCloud Drive, which is just as convenient as Dropbox, costs $36/yr for 200GB, and soon almost everything I work with will be part of the iCloud Drive solution. Luckily, I can open dark side files with Apple apps.
I will end up with the same number of storage systems as before because of how intimately some apps are associated with one of the three. So I haven't been able to eliminate Google Drive and Dropbox, but neither of them cost anything to use at my reduced level.
I am going to miss Dropbox as the ’GO-TO’ app.
Google Drive is pretty nice - but converting file types to Google Sheets and Docs is a minor annoyance, leads to duplicates of files and creates confusion about which is which.
There has been very little new procedure to learn. Finding a file is basically the same in Dropbox and iCloud Drive. And being drawn deeper into the Applesphere just feels right. ;)
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