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Archive for April 30th, 2013

"WTF??"

“WTF??”

A bit of background: For a while I was using Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) for my offsite backup, but I decided I didn’t like having all my eggs (email, offline storage, online doc creation, photos) with one company, particularly one that has a tendency to regularly annoy me, such as…. Google.

So, when Amazon offered 5 free GBs of storage to go with my Prime account, I decided to buy 20 GB and make that my offsite backup, diversity of vendors having its attractions. All was fine until last night when I logged in after getting home and saw a message from Amazon that an upgrade was available and asking for permission to install it.

“What could go wrong,” I should have thought.

Apparently they’ve “improved” the software. Now it copies the folder structure of your Amazon Cloud Drive to your ┬áhard drive, and then it downloads copies of all the files you’ve uploaded to that new, local “Cloud Drive.” (Yes, that’s what the top level of the new directory structure is called.) Now, if I want to upload files to the Amazon Cloud Drive, I can copy them to the corresponding folder on the local “cloud drive” and they will be synched to the server. And if I upload directly to my Amazon Cloud Drive, they’ll be synched to my local “cloud drive.”

If the downloading of all files to my hard drive struck you as odd, you’re not alone. I tested my suspicions by copying a photo I’d never uploaded to the local Cloud Drive’s “photos” folder; it was synched to the server no problem. Then I deleted the copy from the local Cloud Drive and…

It was instantly deleted from the server, too.

I tested this several times, including uploading directly to the server and letting it synch to the local Cloud Drive, and the result was always the same: If I want to keep a copy of a file on the server-side Amazon Cloud Drive, I have to keep it in the local hard drive version, too. On top of this, the original file(s) is in its original location, too, so now I have three copies!

As you can imagine, this left me thinking “Amazon, what were you thinking?”

Space itself isn’t the issue for me: I have a 1.5 TB drive that’s barely 25% full and I’ve used only 5GB of my Cloud Drive allocation, so the downloaded copies barely register.

But the whole nonsensical design annoys the heck out of me. Dropbox, a popular file-sharing/storage service, also creates a local “Dropbox” directory that then synchs to their servers. But it’s basically a fancy “copy” command — it doesn’t create a new file that must stay on your hard drive, if you want to keep the server-side copy available.

But, with this latest iteration from Amazon, they’ve wrecked any utility this has for me as an offsite backup; why would I want to backup anything to their “Cloud,” when it forces me to keep more and more duplicates on the local hard drive? I’m better off saving the money and relying on my external hard drive. (I like the dual redundancy of local and offsite backups, though.)

I wrote Amazon about this, thinking it’s a bug they’re fixing, but, no. In their reply, the customer service droid told me:

I’m so sorry to hear about the disappointment the new cloud drive application update has caused to you. When a file or folder is deleted from the Cloud Drive folder on your computer, it will also be removed from Cloud Drive.

That is more than lame. That is just stupid. Bad, bad design.

A user on Amazon’s “general help” board suggested a work-around that I’ll try tonight. But, unless Amazon fixes this, I’m looking for another offsite storage service.

PS: Amazon provides great services, but you have to wonder about their software design choices. Not just in this Cloud Drive problem I’ve described, but in the Kindle Fire, too. I love my Fire, as I’ve mentioned, but the failure to implement “collections” is just inexplicable. Or, if it is, Amazon isn’t telling anyone what the explanation is.

PPS: I forgot to mention — Soon after the installation of the new, improved Cloud Drive software, I discovered my Kindle for PC software (another Amazon product) was gone. Vanished. Utterly deleted. Now, I can’t swear the Cloud Drive installation caused the KfPC deletion, since I hadn’t used it for a few days, but the coincidence (and what I’ve heard of other glitches with Amazon software) is pretty suggestive.

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