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tfmkevin on Aug 24, 2018 | hide | past | favorite

I may be wrong, but I suspect it is yet another case of "disconnection" between what the MS (in this case but I have seen the same phenomenon with other software) developers have (in terms of hardware, connection speed and bandwidth) and what your average Joe has or can afford.

Since several years softwares seems to be designed by people that have top of the range resources (which is normal since their hardware and connections are their tools of the trade) BUT that somehow don't have contact with "normal" people, using a few years old PC (or phone) and having slow internet for one reason or the other.

Where I live, many businesses are stuck on 25Mbit/s down, 2Mbit/s up DSL connections. You're not wrong.

>”Wait, what? OneDrive can’t handle Microsoft’s own file types? Sure enough, the official online help says you have to move the offending files to a different folder that OneDrive can’t see”

How does something like that ship? That’s going to affect virtually every Office user. Why not just filter out files that won’t sync and warn the user?

How did Windows 10 ship?

The thing constantly overrides user-set preferences: fonts, colors, and worst of all - default apps. Reports usage data to Microsoft with no way to turn it off. An update mechanism that lives its own dominating life, interrupting user workflow whenever it wants.

To be fair, it was replacing Windows 8.

In hindsight, Windows 8 wasn't that bad overall. The real disaster was the Metro UI, but the underlying OS was relatively unobtrusive and a bit more performant than Win7.

Once something like Classic Shell was installed, it was pretty slick and reliable.

My last Windows machine now runs 10 begrudgingly, and compared to my daily drivers MacOS and Ubuntu, it's a shockingly inconsistent operating system. I don't rely on it for "real work" thankfully.

Classic Shell was great. Looking back, going from XP to 7 to 8 to 10, I can't think of any improvement, but the user experience got consistently worse.

This might be the Second Law of Thermodynamics at work, but seriously, I don't understand how these things got shipped.

FWIW, I think the multiple desktops feature in 10 is a good quality of life change. Past that I’d probably agree. Give me any other modern OS before Windows.

There are other pain points too. One I ran into lately is the business version of OneDrive uses a fixed folder name based off your company name and it's hard to change. For example:

  C:\Users\Rumpelstiltskin\OneDrive - Rumpelstiltskin's Gold Spinning Services Inc.\
Then you realize that Excel has a 218 character path limit on file names and things get ridiculous really fast.

     subst X: C:\Users\Rumpelstiltskin\OneDrive - Rumpelstiltskin's Gold Spinning Services Inc.\
Annoying, but it does work.

Then you're married to mapped drives like that and anyone you share with has trouble syncing files unless they're using the same trick. I also managed to create path structures that crashed the OneDrive client when I was testing that.

Eventually I settled on abbreviating company names and putting OneDrive in C:\OD, so:

  C:\OD\OneDrive - RGSS\Shared Folder\
Not great, but better. Then when you share files and someone else syncs, they get:

  C:\OD\RGSS\Rumpelstiltskin - Shared Folder\
And it all goes to hell again. Lol. The base path length's are reasonably close though and seems to work ok.

Reminds me of the days when Eclipse wouldn't run on Windows because Windows filepaths were fixed and Java package paths/identifiers (which I guess map to filesystem paths?) are crazy verbose.

Also, what makes those combinations of bytes unsupported by OneDrive? I get that OneDrive might have some special support and recognition for certain filetypes, but I assume it also supports unknown file types ... so why on earth would they make it specially recognize certain file types just to blacklist them?

Because you're holding it wrong.

The blacklisted file types are frequently changing, tanking your sync performance, and the client applications that use them communicate directly with their backend services.

I'm not saying it's a good reason, but it's not completely arbitrary.

I don’t “get” this at all. I want my cloud services to act like dumb mechanical drives, but ones that never break and have zero mass.

PST files are tricky because they often get to hundreds of MB or GBs in size. And every time Onedrive detects a change it will create a backup of that file and sync up the changes. So you quickly end up with hundreds of backup copies of your huge PST file consuming all your Onedrive storage. So the recommendation is to not store your PST files in your Onedrive folder. I assume the same advice would apply if using Dropbox or other cloud storage providers.

Rsync solves this - it can transfer only the changed parts. And past versions can be saved as diffs and take very little space.

I feel that OneDrive is a piece of $&!+. Not that it's bad, but that it's randomly inconsistent.

We made the decision two years ago to run our company on OneDrive, and we've experienced almost everything covered in this article (except the .pst and one-note file issues because we don't use them).

That being said, I don't really know of a good alternative. It mostly works. Until those really random days when it just chokes on something and you have no idea why. And then you can be effed.

I backup the partition every month or tow just to make sure.

If anyone has ideas (and I've got non-tech users across windows and Mac), I'd love to hear about it. Honestly, if I could run something else covering a few dozen gigs of documents, I would.

We just started using AWS workdocs, which has clients for Mac and Windows (plus iOS and Android iirc). You can either use it as a network drive (Windows only and not fully baked yet) or as a synched folder. There’s also a web interface where you can see the different versions, comment on a file, and which has a decent integration with Office (Workdocs Companion): the file opens in Office, you save your changes and it gets updated remotely.

Honestly it’s not great (esp. the UIs which definitely need improvement) but it seems much less erratic than OneDrive. Plus they have frequent updates and they seem to read the questions on the support forum so I’m cautiously hopeful it’ll improve over time.

However the best document sharing experience I had was with Jive. It’s what Sharepoint should have been. You get a nice, powerful intranet and a great plugin for Office which makes editing a shared, online file as easy and seamless as a local one. Unfortunately they don’t have a SaaS model (last time I checked) so you have to buy the software and set up and manage the infra yourself.


Dropbox doesn't contain the same feature set as OneDrive with Office.

Fair enough - didn't realise that!

"To be fair, Microsoft accounts now support two-factor authentication, but it’s not enabled by default."

I agree that uploading is on the slow side and have encountered the OneNote errors the author refers to. However, suggesting that somehow in 2018 2FA in a mainstream online service should be on by default borders to insanity. I must spend 10 minutes to explain to a normal person what 2FA is, and almost everyone loses interest afterwards. His Windows Hello criticism is also irrelevant, since it is completely optional and easily ignored.

OneDrive is a classic example of how screwed MS management techniques still are: it started as a Windows-only service that was pretty good; then the focus switched to Mac and now it’s pretty good on Mac, but the Windows version got worse. Office apps kinda work with it (I don’t use Outlook...), but the Sharepoint integration is a shitshow. It all seems very haphazardly developed.

For something that should be the rock on which to build the MS consumer cloud, it still looks like a me-too Dropbox clone.

SharePoint integration is a shit show? I've never seen a SharePoint setup that isn't a shitshow, the enterprise SaaS we work with even use it as their help desk it's comically disasterous.

"The next morning, there’s no internet access. Cable outage? Hacker attack? Power failure? Nope, it’s OneDrive. It’s spent all night uploading to the cloud, and it’s still running. In fact, it’s got hours – probably days – still to go, and it’s hogging so much bandwidth that everything else on the network is stalled. Surprise! OneDrive has no bandwidth throttle. It uses 100% of your network, so say goodbye to email, web browsing, video streaming, and everything else. (Turns out, OneDrive will allow you to limit upload/download bandwidth, but it’s not turned on by default.)"

That's most likely because you have Comcast or some other crappy broadband provider with plans like "150mbps down/10mbps up."

Google Drive sync is kinda slow sometimes, Dropbox sync is the best I tried so far (also has delta sync).

Too bad Dropbox upgrades are expensive in comparison because it has no in between plans. 2GB free or 1TB for $120/yr. In comparison, Google Drive 100GB plan is $24/yr.

I pay for Google drive and use it heavily for many documents. It has similar issues, at a lower level, but isn't as tightly integrated as OneDrive.

I also use CrashPlan, because cloud storage isn't backup. :)

Aside from the naming rules, having no LAN sync is a pretty big pain point.

My coworker uses OneDrive on win10, which is a total train wreck in terms of reliability and usability. Interestingly, it runs like a charm for me... on my Mac.

That was the greatest tragedy from the Windows 8 era.

Somehow Dropbox can make cloud sync work, Box can make cloud sync work, Google can make cloud sync work, ...

Microsoft can't.

How is that?

The survival of Dropbox and Box depend on making cloud sync work, so I suppose there's much more of an impetus for those companies to get cloud sync working.

Microsoft can take it or leave it. They've already got your money.

Certainly on the business side, but I can't imagine the consumer side is much different, the whole thing is backed by SharePoint. That is what causes the file type issues. Dropbox and co. have built actual real backends for their products rather than trying to cram the feature set into another product.

In my experience it is also painfully slow, even with just one file syncing. I used to do notes on my Surface in OneNote and have them sync with my computer, and sometimes it would take minutes to appear. If I add a large PDF to the note? Might as well forget it.

OneDrive's integration with Office365 apps is its worst feature!! It makes opening and saving/closing Office files drastically slower vs direct local storage. I'm planning to revert to local storage with NextCloud sync.

I think the main problem is that everywhere old, ugly SharePoint shines through. It's the same with Teams. It looks good when you start but then you quickly get into all these weird behaviors caused by SharePoint.

The title for this article really should clarify that it is specific to OneDrive.

Although I’m happy with Office 365, Microsoft’s policy of trying to obscure valid storage locations has a stink to it. That a cloud service even has a say about file type? Folder structure? Unthinkable.

iCloud doesn’t get a lot of love around here, but it’s been one of the most stable cloud services that I’ve been using for the past couple of years or so. It really lives up to Apple’s motto of “it just works”

I like it but don't use it as much as Dropbox. To be fair, Apple had some disappointing false starts with their services related to syncing.

Anecdata, but same story here. It's been syncing "all" my files for a few years now, and I've had no problems.

Unless you're a poor soul who tries to use their Windows based sync client :-P

Would it be appropriate to change the title to "OneDrive leaves a lot to be desired"... I originally thought this was about Microsoft Azure.

Compared to AWS, the title would be true of Azure too :-)

Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud.

Agreed, and I flagged the article (please do so, so that the mods see it).

OK, changed.

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