Having Fun with Cloud Storage

I’ve had quite a run in with Cloud Storage of late.

Here’s the setup I had until about 2 weeks ago:

  • Dropbox - 100Gb paid account, at $9.99 a month
  • 3Tb Western Digital WDMyCloud

So, why did I change? A few reasons.

For Dropbox, it was mainly (but not only) the cost. I could buy my own hardware with vastly increased storage for less than a 1 year subscription to a 100Gb account. More on that later.

There’s also the ever present issue of security (which ties in with the next issue). I wanted to be in complete control of my files. Not because I have anything to hide, just because they’re, well, my files.

The last straw, though, was this post (some comments have been removed). I’m not going to get into the politics here, but what worried me most was Dropbox’s apparent complete disregard for the views of their customers. Or, perhaps they had just painted themselves into a corner and were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. Either way, it was their fault.

Price, combined with complete PR failure made me want out.

Regarding the WDMyCloud, I, like so many others (have a quick look in the forum before you consider buying) had a ton of issues with this. It seems to be one of those devices that’ll either works perfectly straight out of the box, or never works properly. I'm sure you can guess what my experience was.

The main issue for me was speed. It’s the slowest device on my network. The transfer speed was about 20 times slower than copying to a shared USB drive on another computer on the network. Uploading a single 1.4Mb photo from my iPhone to it took about 25 seconds on the local network.

It also keeps dropping off the network, so can’t even be reliably used for a TimeMachine backup.

So, two pretty negative experiences with cloud storage, so time to take control.

Cloud Storage V2

First, cancel that paid Dropbox account. $9.99 a month saved. Transporter Sync purchased for less than my yearly Dropbox bill. Whacked a 1Tb external USB drive onto it and I've got the same functionality as Dropbox, but with more storage and more privacy.

I've had to keep the free Dropbox account as there are some apps that will, unfortunately, only sync through them. As soon as they give me other options, I'll say goodbye to Dropbox for good. Or I'll find other apps that do the same job without Dropbox.

The Transporter Sync is terriffic. It works way better than I was even hoping for. And it feels kinda cool sitting in a restaurant 200 miles away accessing data on a USB drive in my hallway at home.

I have a ChronoSync scheduled job which grabs all the data from the Library of the Transporter Sync and pops it on an external drive on my Mac, which is getting backed up with BackBlaze, so backups a plenty.

WDMyCloud

On paper, this looked great. In practice, it was shit.

3Tb of NAS available for me, the family, and anyone else I wanted to give access to. All available inside and outside the home. Too good to be true, right? Yep.

It never really worked properly. I mean, it worked, sort of, but at best it was so slow as to be unusable. At worst, it'd simply drop off the network at regular intervals making it totally unusable. As hinted at above, the support forums are full of folk like myself having terrible experiences with it.

So I took a hatchet to it and pulled the drive out and stuffed it into one of those cheapo £15 enclosures which has transformed an expensive brick into a really rather lovely mega USB drive, which I'm now using as a TimeMachine backup and media store.

Funnily enough, as soon as I mentioned on the forums that I'd had enough and was contemplating yanking the drive out, WD support came out of the woodwork and offerered to help. Having said that, they only suggested what had been mentioned in the forums multiple times and never worked and, as soon as I mentioned I'd ordered the enclosure, I never heard from them again.

I was a little nervous about pulling the not inexpensive device apart, but then, I was barely using it as it was intended, so it was effectively a very expensive door stop in its current form. I really had nothing much to lost. (And here's a shot of the experience).

Sorted

So now I'm happy.

I have my own personal Dropbox replacement. I've got a massive 3Tb drive working as a TimeMachine backup, media store, backup target for multiple machines, and all being backed up offsite with BackBlaze.

It's a little Heath Robinson, what with ChronoSync jobs, BitTorrent Sync (not yet mentioned, but doing a stirling job) dumping stuff on the 3Tb from various machines etc, but at least I'm in control of it all and now the data's mine and mine alone.

Want to take control of your own cloud data? I was a little nervous about doing so at first, but it's working out well and I'm feeling better for it, so my advice would be, just do it.