Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Update on Cloud File Provider Extensions

Adam Engst (Mastodon):

My understanding is that Box, Google, and Microsoft have migrated their Mac users to the File Provider approach, whereas Dropbox—probably the most popular among everyday Mac users—has only recently started to encourage those outside its beta program to switch (while others are still being asked to join the beta). It can be hard to tell since cloud storage providers often roll out changes over time or to subsets of customers to test user response, identify concerns, and reduce support loads. Some Dropbox users even report one Mac being upgraded to the new File Provider approach, while others continue to use the kernel extension.

I’ve switched most of my formerly Dropbox files to Git and am now using iCloud Drive for everything else. Unfortunately, iCloud Drive sometimes takes a day or more to sync new files from my iPhone to my Mac.

Some users, including us, have experienced situations where the local folder doesn’t move but becomes disconnected from the service.


However, there are no guarantees that references to files will all resolve to the new locations, and in the case of apps that use cloud storage for syncing settings, you may not even notice immediately.


The most significant limitation of the new File Provider approach is that ~/Library/CloudStorage is located on your internal drive. For those with terabytes of files in a cloud storage service, that’s a huge problem.

Another case where it seems like Apple has forgotten those with external storage needs.

Therefore, assuming you have sufficient disk space, I recommend downloading your entire cloud storage data store, at least temporarily. Bring everything down and let Time Machine and your other backup systems make a copy.

Or, if you don’t have the space, ChronoSync can download the files in stages, back them up, and then evict them while keeping peak storage needs low.


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There are two Cloud File Providers that still haven't migrated to the new Apple model that offer between 20 GB and up. One is Degoo and the other is Megasync. I found Mega a bit complex and it seems that if you upload a few GB's it creates a duplicate folder of the same data while uploading but referrals has it's benefits with each referral a person gets a free 5GB added to their account.

Dropbox still is a superior solution from the UX point of view. Dropbox folder that is placed in the root of Home or any other place that the user would specify is a simple, straightforward approach that is each to understand. Then this folder is synced to a cloud, and if Dropbox is installed on other devices, it will also sync there. If Dropbox, as a company, disappears, your synced files are still on your disk in an easy-to-find place.
Yes, some people choose not to keep all files locally, but that's by choice.
There are other innovative features too, but the central proposition is the key, and it is very, very different from "there will be a cryptically named place somewhere in the hidden by default folder." File Provider method might be good in some good-for-apple way, but it's not a good UX.

I don't see the described ChronoSync behavior (download files in stages, backup, evict) in the list of features for that product. Do you have a reference?

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