HomeCLOUD COMPUTINGHow To Synchronize Data To The Cloud, The Migration Strategy

How To Synchronize Data To The Cloud, The Migration Strategy

Let’s face it, and the cloud was created in different ways. There is the corny joke of Steve Jobs, “the cloud is not just a hard disk in the clouds” (causing controversy with Dropbox and meaning that you can do much more complex services than the synchronization of documents) to which another one from Jobs is added, namely that the cloud is actually “someone else’s computer.”

Dos Is Better Than An

Before starting with any consideration, a proper and fundamental premise must be made. Here we will talk about the cloud, i.e., data synchronization, which is different from security backup. That is, synchronizing data in the cloud does not mean keeping it safe from today’s risks: viruses, ransomware, accidents, and deletions. It serves to have them available everywhere, and even if it is true that as regards iCloud on the iPhone, the backup also does at least partially secure them, the strategy of the two backups is the best.

We must always have a local copy (with an external disk, just Time Machine) and an external one on which a copy of the “whole” files is kept (i.e., not the placeholders of the local files while the whole file is in the cloud service). In this case, for years, the writer has chosen to differentiate security by entrusting the backup in the cloud to a third-party paid service, namely, Backblaze, which from experience, is the most reliable and effective.

Regardless of whether you use Dropbox or iCloud or other, the backup must be an alternative to  The cloud synchronization service is essential to preserve data in the event of a cyber incident (computer theft, hacker attack, but also a violation of one’s account by third parties). Put another way: if you keep all your documents in the cloud, centralizing on one service is more practical and innovative than splitting them between different cloud synchronization services.

However, once centralized (which, as we see, is more convenient to manage and possibly move them to another service), they must also be protected. To do this, a second dedicated external cloud backup service is the best solution.

The Dilemma: What Happens If I Change?

With this clarification done, let’s get to the point, the substance. When deciding which cloud to use, you have to start with the fact that not everyone is created equal, but they all have a mom and a dad. That is, the clouds are offered by companies that charge them more or less expensive, but in reality, they are the glue that holds together the platforms of different and competing companies.

So what happens when we put our digital life (our documents, calendars, messages, mail, and so on) on one cloud rather than another? And what happens when we want to change it? Let’s try to understand it with a series of analogies because the mind understands some things better if they are made understandable without so much complexity.

Say Goodbye To Dropbox

If by hypothesis you have put all your documents on Dropbox and you have decided to use the paid service because it is good, effective, and independent (in technical jargon, it is called “platform agnostic”) that is available on Mac and Pc, Android and iPhone / iPad, know that you run into some problems. Dropbox has been trying to make its offering competitive as other competitors have begun to flex their muscles. Dropbox’s competitors, apart from Box, which is very similar but more oriented to the business market, are the three big cloud platforms: Apple, Google, and Microsoft (and some Amazon services, if you want to).

Dropbox’s response was to overwhelm us with paid features, moving them up (i.e., removing them from the free plan and even the cheapest plans) and offering additional services: from automatic phone photo storage to password management and backups. In the device cloud (file sync is not a backup). In all this, however, the Dropbox app for Mac has become increasingly “heavy” and with limits in the free plan ( so much so that there is Maestral, a valid open-source alternative ), and the company is no longer taking care of it and has gone towards it to ugly compatibility problems with Apple Silicon whose resolution will arrive in inappropriate times.

If one decides, as some of us did in the editorial office, that he wants to “exit” from Dropbox, he discovers that all the incredible lightness of the cloud causes a series of non-trivial problems. It’s not like changing your jacket; it’s more like a change of house. We need to see which critical apps can only be used, how to transfer files (Dropbox uses a cloud-only document storage system which can lead to data loss if you are not careful), what features we need, and how to find them.

From The Pan To The Grill

The classic thing about when you decide to leave a service or, in any case, from an uncomfortable situation is to slip into a worse one. It happens if, for example, we get angry because there have been problems: typically if there are a series of interruptions to a service to which we respond emotionally rather than rationally analyzing the situation.

For this reason, the delay in the optimization of Dropbox on macOS for Apple Silicon is only one of the elements of a thought-out strategy of simplifying and rationalizing the use of the cloud by the editor who has decided to change. Why use many cloud services? Once you have analyzed the spaces where you need to use Dropbox (for the editor: three critical apps that use it, including Scrivener, and the need for small document sharing with other people), we realize that the free version is enough and therefore the subscription was canceled with some difficulty.

Now we have to figure out which other cloud to use. For this reason, it is necessary to carry out a slightly more complex analysis that avoids a risk: ending up from the pan into the embers. That is to end up in another service even worse for us than the one we are leaving. There needs to be more than the technical characteristics of the competing services (Box, Azure Cloud, Google Cloud, iCloud Drive) to understand where to go, but also the information.

Eggs In The Apple Basket

The strategy in life should be never to put all the eggs in the same basket (because if it falls, then they all break) or the family jewels in someone else’s drawer because if it is then closed suddenly, it can be painful. . But we must understand well what it means for us. Suppose you use computers from different manufacturers (a PC and an iPhone, a Mac and an Android, or other such combinations). In that case, the choice must logically be oriented towards a transversal solution. 

This imposes severe limits on Apple services which, although also accessible via the browser, are not all available on other platforms. It can be argued if this is so because Apple wants to “tie” people to its platform (the jewels in the drawer) or because it wants to offer a service that differentiates it from the competition to earn from the sale of its products (a better basket) but not you can change the way things work and instead get over it.

The editor who writes the structure of work and life is this: devices he uses four (Mac mini, MacBook Air, iPhone, iPad), and all four are from Apple. So iCloud is on par with other services. We excluded Box that we know and use less and made reasoning only of technological compatibility, which then was one of the problems that led to the change from Dropbox. Suppose Apple updates the operating system and even changes (as it just did) technology strategy with its processors. In that case, the risk is that third-party app makers must be fully compatible. 

Or that some features (remember that we are talking about more things and cloud synchronization of documents, which requires essential access to the data and services exposed by the single device) are no longer available to third parties. The choice of iCloud is to enhance the compatibility and reliability of the service at the expense of the possibility of changing the hardware platform later. If we wanted to switch to Android or Windows, we would face serious compatibility problems. Instead, if we persisted in the choice of the Apple world, we would have the advantage of deep integration and a constant update of functionality and compatibility.

This type of offer made by Apple, which enhances its platform, is instead precisely the opposite of that of Google, which tries to give cloud services to everyone to give the possibility to use any device, always using the cloud as an “operating system.” It is a genetic difference (Google was born in the cloud and has long lived without devices manufactured by it) that has recently been increasingly copied by Microsoft (Microsoft’s cloud is called Azure and allows the Redmond house to have access to devices. Android and those of Apple, that is, outside the perimeter of Windows).

Cut Off The Rat’s Head

Sometimes difficult decisions are more straightforward than they seem. The roar that frightened us was the roar of a mouse, not a lion. So, considering what kind of data one needs to migrate, what devices one uses, and how much one wants to be centered on one platform rather than others, we are left with iCloud. Does iCloud + work? The short answer is yes, thank you, and very well. If the service is reliable, the advantage is complete integration with the Finder on Mac and iOS / iPadOS on iPhone and iPad.

In addition, it facilitates, offers additional services, and gives the possibility to use the cloud space for other functions, such as backups of mobile devices. This is where the ability of a platform’s managers to maintain its service quickly and effectively comes into play. There are also drawbacks. Let’s see them because you need to know what you risk:

  1. The iCloud app synchronization management interface practically does not exist.
  2. It is impossible to prioritize some documents over others in real time manually.
  3. Keeping some files locked on the local disk is impossible, while others dynamically move back and forth in the cloud.

.” However, after a few months of use with a MacBook Air that has less disk space than our iCloud subscription offers, we are happy to say that the system works more than reliably. Documents are safe, synchronization takes place transparently, and without problems, the disk is always 50% free.

Any Left Is Recovered

The migration from Dropbox was done, the solution was more than acceptable, and everything works as it should. Have we locked ourselves in a proprietary service that prevents us from moving in the variegated world of technology? Actually, no. Meanwhile, this migration has taught us how to analyze and simplify complex things. We understand what we are migrating, why we are doing it, and how we do it.

The subsequent migration, should necessary, will take much less time, and the trace of the analysis (which proved to be valid) is preserved as valuable. Plus, migration doesn’t mean shutting down services – Dropbox is back to free status and stays with the open-source client and app on mobile devices. Google Drive and Microsoft Azure are in a similar condition. The writer doesn’t use Windows / Office 365, so he doesn’t need to use Microsoft’s terabytes.

Instead, as far as Google is concerned, the space on the Drive is required for mail, only for documents if there is some sharing of writing texts or spreadsheets. Collaboration and sharing of large files? It can be done quickly using the iCloud functions to share folders and using Apple’s apps (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) or using those of Google very lightly. Luckily we have come out of the phase of single thinking whereby if there was no Microsoft Office, you could not work, and now you live the freedom of a hybrid in which you can use many different tools without giving even a single euro to Satya Nadella.

The Truth, The Whole Truth, Nothing But The Truth

One last thing, because reading this article (or rereading it, if you want to put yourself from the point of view of whoever wrote it), there is a point that has remained in the background: the famous elephant in the center of the room. That is: why not use all systems, depending on the need? And then, how we deal with the apps that bring their cloud (Adobe’s Creative Suite, I’m thinking of you). A little above, we wrote that the communication lines are kept open with systems no longer used as the primary system (in the case of this path, using iCloud, the other four or five become secondary, if you also count Amazon AWS).

But this lends itself to misunderstandings. It is necessary to have a method that does not necessarily mean buying manuals, studying functionality, and creating infinite processes and procedures. Indeed, the best and most effective strategies are the easiest because they are better understood, quickly internalized, and practiced with much less effort and “friction.” Complex and elaborate procedures substantially make life difficult: simple solutions exist, even for complex problems.

In this case, there are two problems: keeping the other cloud services active for free (because they are always needed) and putting yourself in a position tomorrow to migrate to other clouds if you wish quickly. How do you do it? Simple: we chose a service (in this case, iCloud, which is convenient for the reasons mentioned above, and we are sure that it still allows you to export the data as needed), and we organize the data well in such a way as to have a single “place” Where things are in order. The so-called “source of truth,” i.e., the corrected version of all files, without duplication, out-of-date copies scattered here and there.

An advantage of this system is that we know where to find things (they are organized), we know where to put them after we have modified them (they are always organized), we know how to protect them (they are all there and you can do the two backups locally and remotely) without fear of having forgotten something) and if we decide to migrate tomorrow, we know what to take and take away (they are organized) and how (we have already done it to go into iCloud, in this case).

If you allow it, one last piece of advice: organization is a method, not a tool. It doesn’t matter if it’s iCloud rather than Google Drive or Dropbox. We must reflect on how the services are made, what we do, and with which devices, and choose the thing that is easier and more flexible for us and that does not block us in a single area (systems that allow us to export data). If we are tidy and we do it right, even if we have made the wrong choice (we are human, after all), there is scope for understanding what we did wrong with our selection, and at that point, we can slip off with relative ease and move on to something else. Is simple. At least, it is if we don’t mess with ourselves.

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