The Great Cloud Storage Consolidation of 2016

David Chartier posted this wonderful series of articles about combining his various cloud storage into iCloud Drive.1 My digital detritus is spread across three cloud services: iCloud Drive; Dropbox; and OneDrive. I need to consolidate this somewhat.

The bulk of my crap is in OneDrive. I have my main working folders with my documents and about 100g of scanned comics and guitar magazines. iCloud is the next second with its own version of working directories (my iWork files for example are all there). Dropbox is this kind of dumping ground with only about 4gig of stuff.

My Office365 subscription comes due soon and I gave serious thought to cancelling it. I don’t use office that much. In the end, the hassle of moving the scanned images to some other service outweighed any benefits of cancelling. If iCloud Drive did selective sync, I would have uploaded it, but this type of data doesn’t need to live on every — or any — of my devices.

Dropbox does a few sketchy things with its OS X client that I’m not thrilled with. I’m not sure if the battery problems I had in Sierra were related to Dropbox scanning the whole system (I doubt it), but it was an energy vampire I could live without. The same with OneDrive. I use OneNote as my primary note taking platform and the OS X version can read and write from OneDrive without needing to have the client installed. The same with the Office apps.

I moved all of the general stuff I need on a close to daily basis from OneDrive to iCloud Drive. Folders for my now-defunct freelance business, a general Creative Projects folder, and my Calibre Library are now moved from OneDrive to iCloud Drive. The only things left up on OneDrive are the large image libraries of the scans.2

There were a few reasons I undertook this effort. I didn’t like having stuff scattered through different services. I’d keep asking myself, where did I store this file? The main thought was to limit the services that run on my Mac. I don’t know how much these contributed to any battery issues. I also don’t run my MacBook on battery often. When I do, though, I want to make sure I’m eking out every second.3

iCloud Drive isn’t perfect. I don’t like that it doesn’t do selective sync, and it’s still something updating and running in the background. I have faith in Apple to be a little more circumspect and not scan the entire file system. Given that cloud services still aren’t one of Apple’s strong suits this may be misplaced trust. When I go to save a file in iOS, the “Save to iCloud” action expands every freaking folder making navigation incredibly unwieldy.

Finding where iCloud downloads my iBooks files was a lost cause. Originally Apple’s plan with iBooks in 10.11.4 was to allow you to delete the local iBooks downloads — like you can with iOS. Right now, though, you can’t. I know they are taking up considerable storage on my Mac, I just don’t know where. I would probably move some of them to OneDrive if I had a better idea where they were to get a file size count. After a few hours of Googling the best I can find is they are stored in an iCloudiBooks folder that’s impossible to find. The best I could find was the PDFs in the directory with a Finder search.

My original goal was to eliminate OneDrive completely. I was looking into something like BitTorrent Sync or Seafile, The problem I had is the reader apps I use on iOS don’t support these natively. Sure, I might be able to find in the file in the service’s iOS app and do an “open in,” but that’s too much hassle.

A few days into this, I’m happy with the decision. iCloud has come a long way in a few years. Only two years ago I wrote about how crappy my experiences with iCloud Drive were.

  1. David is also on MacPower Users Episode 345 talking about this.
  2. That’s not 100% true. I still have the old folders I moved, but this is more of an archival backup than a working copy.
  3. I’m not sure if turning wifi off when I really need good battery life will stop the scanning. I also could have written some sort of script to kill OneDrive and Dropbox when I need to.