October 25, 2016

Amazon cloud drive, photos, rclone, and odrive

Maybe a year ago or so (I forget when it was announced) Amazon introduced a new program for their Cloud Drive service. It was $12 a year for unlimited photo storage. I thought that was ridiculously cheap, so I signed up.

I had some complaints about the service, but nothing major. Mainly, there wasn't a native way to save my iPhoto library to the cloud. The service is only unlimited storage for photos, so you can't backup metadata, just your pictures. The web client is the only way to do uploads, and that would sometimes drop a file here or there. That meant I couldn't upload my entire library in one shot - I wouldn't know which photos were dropped. Also, the files are stored based on file name, which doesn't work well for me. In my iPhoto library I have lots of files with the same name from different camera. That doesn't matter in iPhoto, since it uses a file hierarchy and the names don't conflict, but Amazon Cloud Drive puts all photos in the root of the drive, so you can overwrite older files with the same name with newer files.

I eventually exported my iPhoto library to files with album names or dates or something in the filename, and slowly, over a few weeks, uploaded all the files. For $12 I was very happy with that.

Then I got the iPhone app, and photos were uploaded automatically. That is great!

A few weeks ago though, I got an email from Amazon saying that they are discontinuing the service. I wasn't surprised. It was a great deal for the price. They offered a chance to change to unlimited storage for $60 a year. That is also a great deal. So I switched to that.

I didn't do much for a while though, because I didn't have a good way to get files into Amazon Cloud Drive.

But then I found RClone, which bills itself as Rsync for the cloud. And it basically works like an rsync. Since I switched to unlimited storage, that can support directories. rclone worked great for me, I was able to back up a lot of personal data that should be offsite, and also do a real back-up of my iPhoto library. Nice. So I highly recommend the combination of rclone and Amazon Cloud Drive.

One thing that I would really like is the convenience of Dropbox to be able to keep files in sync. Amazon Cloud Drive is really just a big place to put files, but it doesn't have a way to do sync across files. There is a solution that can help with that though: odrive. odrive is a service that lets you add cloud storage providers (Amazon, Google, Dropbox, and others) and then it will manage those files for you. It allows for sync on top of the services that it supports. So by installing the odrive client on my machines, I now have an easy way to sync files between those machines. Another great thing about odrive is that it doesn't download everything. I have 172GB in my Amazon Cloud Drive right now, and I don't have that much space on my machines. At any given time I only want to work with a small set of files. odrive will create placeholder files and only downloads things as you need them. So I can set up one folder that I am currently working with as actively synced, and the rest of the cloud drive doesn't take any space on my machine. It is very nice.

The free client doesn't automatically keep a folder in sync, so while placeholder files will show up, I might have to click on them to download the files, but that isn't a big problem with my workflow. The free client also might only support one or two accounts, but since I only need one account, that is fine by me.

I still have some complaints about Amazon Cloud Drive - mostly that the pictures are dumped into the root folder, so I have maybe a hundred thousand files in there, but otherwise I'm very happy with the combination of Amazon Cloud Drive, rclone, and odrive working together. Check it out!


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