Thinking About Trust and Cloud Services

Thinking About Trust and Cloud Services

It’s going to take me a while to really process Microsoft’s unexpected decision to completely hobble its OneDrive cloud storage service. Like many of you, I feel a certain sense of betrayal and outrage. I don’t agree with the decision. And I don’t believe that the reasons stated are why it really happened.

None of that really matters much, of course. What this is really about is a breach of trust. And when it comes to trust, Microsoft has now failed us on at least two levels with OneDrive.

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First, OneDrive has failed us from a technical perspective. When the company announced that it would kill placeholders in Windows 10, I was disappointed. But I learned to work around it, and actually changed my workflow to meet OneDrive’s stupid new way of doing things. The real issue for me has been performance and reliability: On Windows 10, OneDrive sync is embarrassingly slow and coughs up a hairball (in the form of error messages about files) regularly. So I started using Dropbox for my day to day work, leaving OneDrive to archival duties.

The second failure of trust is more personal, though some may see it as a customer service issue. That is, once you decide that you can trust Microsoft to do the right thing technically, you need to decide whether you believe Microsoft would simply do the right thing. And on that note, I do trust Microsoft, implicitly and explicitly, in many matters. But with this betrayal—and really, is there another word that makes as much sense?—I don’t know that I’ll ever trust OneDrive—or, the OneDrive team—again. It’s just too much.

The problem, of course, is that, like you, I use a lot of Microsoft products. And one of the big selling points of OneDrive is that it just kind of works with everything. It doesn’t, not really—see my note about technical trust, above—but that’s the theory. And I use Windows, and Office, and OneDrive, and Office 365, and lots of other mobile apps, services, and so on.

And I use a Windows phone. Where my photo backup options are now two: OneDrive and Dropbox. On iPhone, I could choose between iCloud, Google Drive/Photos, and Amazon Cloud Drive too.

In fact, I also use an iPhone, and Android phones. And I’ve been backing them all up to OneDrive. Don’t I feel like an ass?

So it’s time to start comparing cloud storage services again, to start considering backup strategies yet again—and seriously, thanks a lot, Microsoft, what I really want to do is constantly reevaluate stuff that should just sit there and f@#king work.

Sorry, sorry.

So there’s work to be done. Tests and comparisons. Decisions.

And I have mentioned in passing this theory—not mine, but I’m getting around to adopting it, believe me—that maybe the right thing to do, the smart thing to do, is to not silo all your data with some platform maker—i.e. Microsoft, Amazon, Apple or Google—but to rather choose services where that is all they do. For example, Dropbox (pretty much) and Box only do storage. Spotify only does music. And so on. Maybe the right tool for the job is the tool that does that one thing, instead of a Swiss Army knife.

Maybe. I honestly don’t know.

I do sort of think that I stick with OneDrive in some capacity. After all, Office 365 (Home, in this case) remains an incredible deal, and 1 TB of storage is nothing to sneeze at. I do have one year to figure out what to do with my excess stuff up there. (Early guess: Delete a bunch of videos, and leave them on my NAS.) I’ll probably keep it around as archival storage. Or something.

But this decision, this ham-handed delivery of bad news is tough to take. How can we ever trust these people again?


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