Thursday, February 5, 2015

Moving out from Dropbox

My old and new laptops, with a desktop monitor and my nexus.
Immediately following the repair of my new laptop.
Taken at my office space in INESC-ID Lisboa.

So I received this email from Dropbox last week:
Hi Kathiravelu,
As part of your school’s participation in Space Race, you received 25 GB of additional Dropbox space. The Space Race promotional period expires on March 4, 2015, at which point your Dropbox limit will automatically return to 8 GB.
As a friendly reminder, you’re currently using 33.11 GB of Dropbox space. If you’re over your 8 GB limit after March 4, you’ll no longer be able to save new photos, videos, and docs to Dropbox.
Need more space? Dropbox Pro gives you 1 TB of space to keep everything safe, plus advanced sharing controls, remote wipe for lost devices, and priority support. Upgrade before March 4 and we’ll give you 30% off your first year.
Get 30% off by upgrading now
Interested in using Dropbox with a team? We’re also offering 50% off one year of Dropbox for Business!
Thanks for participating in Space Race!
- The Dropbox Team

It's all started two years back with Dropbox's Space Race program, and our university students participated in it eagerly, to secure 25 GB for all of us, for two years.

The email looked like below:

Hi Kathiravelu,

Universidade Técnica de Lisboa is so close to reaching the next level of Space Race! Once you reach the next level, you’ll get another 10 GB.

That'll mean that everyone at Universidade Técnica de Lisboa enrolled in Space Race gets a total of 15 GB of free Dropbox space for 2 years!

Get out there and refer your classmates! You can keep tabs on how your school's doing here.

Keep on racing!
- The Dropbox Team

At that time, two years seemed really long. It covered my entire masters. I even thought eventually Dropbox will let us keep that space with us forever. It turned out, Dropbox won't do that. :P 

Now, I have to safely migrate the 25 GB of documents to another free cloud storage. Purchasing additional storage is the alternative suggested by Dropbox, which is out of question for a poor student like me. I know Box offering 10 GB free space. However, it does not have a desktop client for Ubuntu, which makes it useless for me. I have an account that I use mostly to upload manually using the web interface, or from my windows system.

One of my friends suggested Google Drive. So far, I used Google drive just to store some google docs. It offers free storage of 10 GB for everyone, and also some other Google accounts (other than the default Gmail one) provide me storage as large as 1 TB. I did not know of a desktop client available for Ubuntu. I did a search and found grive, a desktop command line client for Ubuntu.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:thefanclub/grive-tools
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install grive-tools
Then to add a new folder with files into google drive,
$ grive -a

To update a folder existing in google drive with changes,
$ grive

I did a mistake of trusting my new computer and assuming it won't fail. However, it failed suddenly, though it was less than 1 year since I bought it. I returned to HP for a free repair, since I have a guarantee of 2 years. During the repair, they reinstalled my Windows operating system, erasing the document stored in the partition. The failure has nothing to do with the hard disk. But resetting the operating system erasing the data is just their regular practice here, as I learned from the repair centre guy. Luckily they did not touch the Ubuntu partition which had my images and work. Just a week ago, I transferred my images to Ubuntu partition, which luckily saved me from losing the remarkable memories of my trips. This gave me determination not to trust even a new computer not to fail. I still remember how I lost all my photos from my US trip of 2011, as I stored them in the office laptop provided by WSO2, which had an operating system issue which made me reinstall the operating system erasing the entire data, in 2012.

Interestingly, my old computer of 6 years is still working with no problem at all. Fnac said usually the repairs take 10 - 15 days, where it may go up to 30 days maximum. I knew my computer had some issues - but I was waiting till summer to get it repaired, as I did not want it to affect my work. However, I had to repair it urgently, as it completely failed and did not turn on at last. Fortunately, it just took 10 days for them - to send it to HP and return it to me repaired. During these 10 days, I managed with my old computer, which was painfully slow for me. Our requirements for processing power and memory have grown huge, as in 2006 that computer was perfect for me. Good for me - I had my old computer updated with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS as well, along with all the software I need, except Latex (which I had to install, as this is something that I regularly work with).

Now Dropbox is reducing the space from 33 GB to 8 GB this March, I am mostly moving away from it, except for the 8 GB it still has to offer. This 8 GB is almost the documents that I share with others using Dropbox shared folders, which I cannot migrate without much administrative effort. In any case, I will keep an eye on my documents in the cloud storage as well as my local copy to ensure that the documents are available at both places, in case of a local hardware failure, or a shutdown from the cloud system in a similar manner, which may swallow my documents. :D

P.S: If you are a Chinese, or comfortable using an application that is mostly Chinese with a poor English or international interface, you may use Tencent Weiyun, which offers at least 1 TB free storage. Just a small warning. Do not forget the password of Tencent services. It was very hard to reset the password when I tried last. The application was not completely internationalized when I tried, and "forgot password" was one of the few bits that was fully functional only in the Chinese interface. 
P.P.S: MEO Cloud provides a good alternative to Dropbox. It gives 16 GB free space, and also has a Dropbox-like referral system. It currently has a Portuguese web interface with English and localized application interface. But it is easy to use for English speakers as well, as Portuguese much looks similar to English than Chinese. Give it a try.


  1. Moving data around is never an easy job. I can't imagine what I would do if one of my hard drives crashes! Best to have backups all over the place if not only just on a cloud-based system!

    1. If not possible to have multiple backups locally, and unwilling to pay (like me), still a good idea to keep the things distributed across multiple cloud storage systems. Not to forget the vendor lockins, and privacy. Depends on the time and effort you are willing to spend on the potential migrations though.


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