Microsoft OneDrive – Use Across Three Different Operating Systems

So… what’s the deal with all the OneDrive goofiness lately??

Ya know… maybe its just me, and if that’s the case, that’s fine. However, I’m not the only one that’s stated that they’re experiencing some really strange behavior with Microsoft OneDrive lately. Its gotten so bad, that it really got in the way of me finishing my two part review of Windows 10 (Part 1, > (Part 2). I nearly lost the review more than once as changes to the article wouldn’t sync right. I think I’ve got it straightened out, but I’m still watching things very closely.

Here’s what happened, what I did, and what Microsoft needs to do.

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive Installs
I’ve got OneDrive installed on a number of different computers. Notice, I said computers and not PC’s. I want to call out the distinction here. I’ve got OneDrive installed on a Windows 7 machine at work, my Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 and my MacBook Pro running OS X 10.10.4.

The key thing to note here is that I don’t have a Windows 8.x computer any longer. Any PC that I have had that OS on has been upgraded to Windows 10, including my Surface Pro 3 and My Dell Latitude ST2. This means that the sync clients I have on my Windows 7 computer, my Windows 10 computer and my MacBook Pro, are relatively equivalent. None of them have Place Holder support (those awesome stub files that were actually local short cuts to your online data.

Place Holder files basically let you see everything that you had stored in OneDrive without actually having your entire cloud drive on your local computer. Instead, the operating systems I use have a OneDrive client that has what has been generally called the “Windows 7 client” experience – You get to choose which folders sync to your local computer. You get the entire contents of that folder, and that’s it. You also must sync to a physically, internal drive location. You can’t put content on an external drive, be that a USB hard drive (external or thumb drive) or any kind of SD Card. In Windows 8.x, you can.

There’s a lot of grief wrapped around the differences in the “Windows 7 Client experience” and what happens with OneDrive in Windows 8.x. Many people really like the Windows 8.x client experience, and have issues with the fact that Microsoft deprecated it.

There are other issues that I have with the reduction in functionality, and I may address then later, but for now, its enough for everyone to know that I do not have any computer running Windows 8.x with an active OneDrive client.

All of the computers I have running OneDrive are effectively running clients with identical features and with the same sync client. They are considered to be the same version, regardless of platform.

Problems on Windows 7
I have a Windows 7 machine at work. That’s not surprising, really, considering that most computers in the Enterprise are either Windows XP or Windows 7 machines. No one put Windows 8.x en mass on computers at work. They were too difficult to use, and the learning curve was much too high to have anyone or anything be truly productive with them.

Anyway… Windows 7 at work. If you remember, Windows 7, is the base design model for OneDrive’s sync client in Windows 7, Windows 10 and OS 10. It’s also on point to know and understand that the Windows 7 machine I’m using OneDrive on is an Enterprise managed machine. This means there may be network policies in place effecting the sync, but I don’t think there are, really. I’ll get to this in a bit…

The OneDrive experience I have at work started out rather well in November of 2014. The company doesn’t block Microsoft services, as I can not only sync OneDrive, but I can sync OneNote notebooks as well, without any problems. In fact, OneNote sync flawlessly and has despite all of the other sync issues that I’ve been having… which I find very concerning. More on that in a minute…

Under Windows 7 on the work computer – which again, seems to be totally unrestricted and free to sync OneDrive without issue – I have a boat load of sync problems.

OneDrive FREQUENTLY falls out of sync with the web or fails to sync files to the web. I can manually upload files to OneDrive.com without issue and that will sometimes resolve the sync conflicts, but often does not.

The most common problem I have is that the sync client seems to correctly identify objects that have changed either on the client side or the server side, and even transfers data back and forth. However, the file(s) in question – those that require synching – rarely, if ever, actually sync.

I have no idea what data is actually passing though the connection as I don’t’ have a packet sniffer and won’t be allowed to have one on the corporate network. This is also one of those situations where you don’t necessarily want to draw “unnecessary” attention to software you may have installed at work.

Sometimes, manually uploading content to OneDrive via its web interface solves the sync conflict. Other times it does not. Sometimes it does after deleting the local copy and letting the newly manually uploaded copy download to the appropriate folder, other times it doesn’t.

If that doesn’t work, then I usually quit OneDrive and then restart it. Sometimes that works. Other times, it doesn’t. Often, I have to completely disconnect OneDrive from this PC and then let the whole thing resync content back down to the work PC after deleting the entire local data store.

Troubleshooting Windows 7 Sync
This has been one of the most aggravating and frustrating experiences I’ve EVER had with a cloud sync data client. The problems seem to occur on newly updated files and not files that have been selected for sync, but haven’t changed. In other words, the initial sync always seems to go well. After that, things tend to degrade.

The problem here is that things either stay in a constant state of sync for one – say 54k – file, while the OneDrive sync client synchs over 20MB of data over a three week period, again, all for apparently a single 54k file. The OneNote tool tip or status window that displays on a single left mouse click to the One Drive icon in your System Tray shows that its synching xx.xMB of XX.XXMB. The time of last update can vary between as long as 4 days ago, to XX seconds ago.

Sync issues occur both on and off the corporate wired LAN, on and off the corporate wireless LAN, on my home network withOUT VPN enabled, and on my home network WITH VPN enabled.

Up to this point, I’ve been unsuccessful in detecting any kind of predictable, reproducible pattern. Things are just too random.

Problems on Windows 10
During the Windows 10 PRE-RTM Insider Preview, this was a total cluster.

At times, OneDrive was flawless. At other times, it didn’t seem anything would sync correctly. At times, the initial sync took well over 36 hours regardless of what network I was connected to (work, home or cellular) or how I was connected (wired or wireLESS). You just had to set it and forget it; as it seemed to have a mind of its own and would finish, when it was ready to finish. Period.

Post RTM, OneDrive has been much better, but interestingly enough, files that seem to be problematic in their sync on Windows 7, or appear unsynchable, also seem to take a long time to sync in Windows 10. I never have the days long synching issues of individual files on Windows 10. They usually sync after a number hours, but they often take all day to sync or are resolved with a series of reboots.

General Sync Issues
The ONLY thing that seems to be consistent with all of this is that sync issues nearly always occur with Office files. Word files are the most problematic. Whether that’s because Word is more problematic than any other OR because I tend to create or modify files more than any others is unknown. I’ve also had issues synching Excel files and to an infinitely less degree PowerPoint and Visio files, but that I think is more of a modification sync issue with those than with Excel or Word files.

Funny thing… I never had any issues synching OneDrive files on my Mac. This is seems to be a Windows based problem.

Are you having issues with OneDrive? Does it happen more with Windows 7 or Windows 10 for you? Do you use one, the other or both of these Windows operating systems at the same time, but on different machines? Are you having issues synching files with OneDrive for Mac? Are sync issues more problematic with Office files or just any ol’ file?

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area, below, and let me know?

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iCloud and iCloud Drive Could Be Awesome!

If Apple gave the storage space away…

icloud-apple-logoI’ve recently been mucking around with my Mac and iCloud Drive and have come to a very logical conclusion – iCloud and iCloud Drive could be the service that corners the consumer cloud service market…but only if it gives the storage space away.

I’ve been using cloud storage services for a number of years. A few years ago, I wrote an article that was posted on Information Week; but has since been outdated and the post removed. I recreated it on my blog, iTechGear; and you can see all of the original post, here. Cloud-based storage was big in 2011. Its big now.

Dropbox still only offers you 2GB of free storage (don’t get me started on how far behind the times, that amount is…). However, if you want to upgrade to a full terabyte of storage, you can do that for $10 bucks a month. Google Drive offers a similar plan. Microsoft OneDrive offers unlimited storage to anyone with an Office 365 subscription.

That’s all well and good, but it isn’t as elegant and as integrated a solution as Apple’s iCloud. Their solution is integrated into the OS . Its integrated into all of their computers and devices; and… it totally blows, because it’s totally too expensive.

Here’s what’s killing me about it all…

Default Storage Size

data-storage
Only 5GB..? REALLY?! What, is this 2010, still?

Look, if you’re going to charge people for storage, then you have to do better than just 5GB as a starting point. The entire world seems to be moving people to a cloud based storage model. There are a number of different cloud storage options still around today, and when you only offer 5GB to start me off, then you are really looking for me to find someplace else to keep my stuff. When I have a 64GB iPhone, thinking that 5GB of free storage is going to be enough for me to back up a device, isn’t silly… its verging on stupid. There is NO WAY that 5GB is going to be enough, and Apple wants to charge a bit for its larger storage options.

While the next tier up is 20GB for only $0.99 per month (not bad for a paid tier; but still not enough when you have a 64GB, with you all the time, digital camera and internet communications device). Apple’s next paid step is 200GB for $10 per month. That same $10 per month can buy you 1TB of storage from Google Drive and UNLIMITED storage from Microsoft (and includes a “free” Office 365 subscription).

Fellow iBlogger Jonny Evans asks a GREAT question (and I’m paraphrasing, here…) – why doesn’t Apple give you at least 5GB of storage with every iDevice you buy and register with Apple and your iCloud account? It’s a GREAT question; but hold that thought for a moment…

Photos – You’re going to Break the iCloud Drive Bank
iphotoiconApple currently has OS X 10.10.3 in beta right now. That beta release has a beta version of Apple’s new iPhoto and Aperture replacement – Photos. The app uses iCloud and iCloud Drive to store photos by default. When you do that… and if you’ve got a large photo library, you’re going to max out your storage allotment before you can blink.

I think Apple is going to have a HUGE problem with the implementation and release of Photos to the general public. While most of what they sell are considered premium products, the entire world is working overtime to support the purchase of an iPhone and MacBook/iPad combination. Photos is a prime editing candidate for these folks, but without enough online storage, the whole effort is going to be a bust with each endpoint implementation.

That’s fancy IT talk for, “your average user won’t be able to make proper use of the app because they won’t have enough online storage.”

Money to Burn
Now, let’s get back to that Jonny Evans question… And, let’s face it – Apple has money to burn. They have over $173B USD in liquid cash as of this writing, and could perhaps buy most of Greece with that amount of cash (though, not all of it…they’d need at least $200B USD more…). With money on THAT scale, I am left wondering why they are charging their customers – owners of MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc. – any kind of fee AT ALL for iCloud or iCloud Drive storage.

I know that all iTunes purchases are automatically stored in iCloud; and that that storage is unlimited. You can pull content down or stream content to your iDevice any time you want; but if I had a dollar for every time my wife’s iPhone told me that it couldn’t back up the contents of the device automatically to iCloud because her account didn’t have enough storage, I’d be rich myself.

But, isn’t this the right thing to do? Giving away iCloud storage, I mean….

I mean, I know Apple’s products are enticing. As I said, nearly the entire world is trying to figure out how to score enough cash to purchase the iDevice of their choice; but wouldn’t free, unlimited cloud-based storage be exactly what the organization needs to provide to make them the slam-dunk, no brainer choice for everyone and for everything you do with a computer?

I know I’d be much more inclined to choose an Apple based solution if I was in the market for a computer, tablet or smartphone, if I knew that the purchase also got me access to unlimited, free cloud-based storage. Wouldn’t you..??

That’s the computing age I want to play in. That’s the kind of, “we’ve got money to burn, so let’s do something that benefits not only our shareholders, but all of our users as well,” action that gets you written down in the history books…and it would make iCloud and iCloud Drive a slam dunk, absolute no-brainer for absolutely everything you did online…and the simple thought of Apple doing this should make companies like Dropbox, Google and Microsoft quake in their boots.

What do you think?

Am I on the right track here? Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Would it create any anti-trust issues for Apple? If you weren’t an Apple user, would you want to switch to an Apple product to get access to unlimited cloud storage? Why don’t you chime in, in the discussion area below and let me know what you think? If you have a different or better idea, I’d love to hear about it!

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Convert your DVD’s to any video format with TDMore DVD Converter

Convert your DVD’s to any video format with this handy Windows tool.
TDMDVD-11

I don’t know about you, but I have an absolutely HUGE DVD collection.  I’ve got DVD’s. I’ve got Blu-rays.  I’ve got movies coming out of my ears…and I absolutely love them all. All of them; but I have a huge problem. I’m running out of physical storage space for all of them.  Literally.  I’m really struggling to find a place to store even one more physical jewel case. Its probably for this reason alone that I really love applications like TDMore DVD Converter..  It’s a DVD converter for Windows, and if it can help me…it can help you, too.

TDMore DVD Converter is a versatile DVD converter and ripper that helps users quickly and efficiently convert DVD’s.  With it, you can convert DVDs to MP4, MKV, WMV, FLV, AVI, VOB, TS among other video formats.  You can also convert 2D to 3D video in MP4, MKV, WMV, TS, AVI formats.  If you’re into the audio tracks, you can convert your DVD’s to MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, M4A as well as other audio formats.

The app uses some pretty advanced compression power to get the job done. It uses H.265 HEVC.  That gives it the ability to shrink both audio and video down to about 50% of its actual size without losing any quality during playback.  That means that the files should work very nicely on your smartphone, tablet, or anywhere else you have a finite amount of non-upgradable storage (like many of the more popular ultrabooks and other notebooks on the market today as well).  Speaking of working with today’s popular hardware, the app has integrated NVIDIA’s CUDA and Intel’s Quick Sync technologies to dramatically reduce conversion times without skimping on playback quality.

The new version of TDMore DVD Converter can provide amazing functions as other popular software with the most reasonable price. For more information, please visit official website.

TDMore DVD Converter is a decent app. Its easy to use and has supports some really cool technology built into it that allows it to create some really small video conversions.  The big problem with this app, however, is its non-standard user interface.  The problem here is PC based performance after the conversion starts.

The app does all right with its own functionality.  The PC does ok on its own, but not every PC will handle multi-tasks ok.  Now, that’s not necessarily a specific problem with THIS app on mid-range to high-end PC, but on low-end or budget based PC’s, it may be; AND the non-standard app graphical interface doesn’t help.

TDMore DVD Converter does a really great job converting movies. On my PC, it was fast and quick and PC performance didn’t tank; but then again, I have a quad-core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. Other PC’s may not fare as well as mine; but the end result on the ripped movie will be really great.

Download

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Microsoft Borks OneDrive in Windows 10 Preview Update

Sometimes when it ain’t broke, you have to fix it…or not.

OneDrive_Sync_PC

I saw an interesting article on ITWorld by fellow technology journalist Gregg Keizer and it confirmed what I had suspected had happened in the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879 – Microsoft changed the way OneDrive works.

With services like Dropbox and Google Drive – as well as OneDrive – files that you upload that you place in the service’s home folder on your PC, upload to the service. This is how everyone expects the service to work.

Files that you upload to the service via the website, are uploaded to the service; but may not be downloaded to every computer you have OneDrive installed. Believe it or not, this is how the service was originally designed to work, even in Windows 8.

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft used placeholders on your PC to represent files that you have stored in OneDrive. These files weren’t actually on your PC, but were effectively shortcuts to them, on OneDrive. When you searched your PC for a file, you found either the actual file because it was on the drive, or you found a place holder. Double clicking the file, obviously opened the file. Double clicking the placeholder downloaded the file to your PC, opened it in the default program and then kept the file on your PC. Users had to learn the difference between a place holder and a file, but it really only mattered when they were off line. When online, you may have noticed a small delay in opening the file because you had to download it; but depending on your broadband connection, it may not have been noticeable.

Users really didn’t notice the difference between a place holder and the actual file. The place holder looked like a file, had a thumb nail like a file and got you the data you were looking for when you double clicked it (if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…). While slightly different than Dropbox and Google Drive, it did save local storage space; and the whole thing was largely transparent to users.

In Windows 10, things are a bit different. OneDrive now uses Selective Sync, by default and has killed the place holders. Now…to be fair, nearly ALL cloud file storage services can use selective sync, or the process of ONLY synching the files that you actually want on your local PC, while everything else stays up in the cloud. The problem with this is that if you want to work on a file that isn’t on your PC, you first have to search your PC (to confirm that you do or do not have the data you want or need) and then go online and search your cloud based file store for the file you want.

All the other services have this Selective Sync as an advanced setup option. Microsoft has it turned on by default, doesn’t tell you, and then makes you search your online file store a second time for the data you’re looking for.

Microsoft also totally failed to tell anyone they were making this kind of drastic change to the way OneDrive works.

As you might suspect, users are a bit ticked off.

When users search for files in Windows 10 Build 9879 they may not find the file they are looking for and may not understand that the file is ON OneDrive, but just not ON their PC.

In response to the outcry, Microsoft’s Ning Jin-Grisaffi has responded to these concerns with both an explanation of the problem and a small description of the solution.

The problem as he describes it was that “[Microsoft was] not happy with how [they had] built placeholders, and [they] got clear feedback that some customers were confused (for example, with files not being available when offline), and that some applications didn’t work well with placeholders and that sync reliability was not where we needed it to be.”

(Frankly, the first part of this, I consider BS. That last part, where apps didn’t work right with place holders, might carry a bit of weight though…”

The solution is a bit more complicated than just reimplementing or turning place holders back on. Microsoft is making a serious business change to OneDrive. They are combining the backend consumer service engine with the OneDrive for Business service engine, in part to insure that it can handle everyone’s unlimited storage from both sides of the service (consumer and business).

Microsoft is also adding in additional capabilities. In order to do that, they had to remake the service and had to basically tear it down to build it back up. According to Jin-Grisaffi, the OneDrive experience in Windows 10 Build 9879 is the first iteration of this redesign. Microsoft may not bring back place holders, but it he says they WILL “bring back the key features of place holders.” Eventually, you will be able to search your files and find both those that are and are not physically on your local hard drive. It’s just going to take time.

So, let me say this – hold your horses.

Apple did a similar thing with iWork when it totally killed all of its advanced features. If you recall, that caused a huge outcry, too. Like Apple, Microsoft WILL make sure that all of the capabilities that everyone was happy with will come back to OneDrive. Apparently, it’s going to take a few iterations.

If you want to see the improvements to the service faster during the Technical Preview, you can always choose to receive preview builds faster. To do so, follow these steps:

Open PC Settings
In the list on the left hand side of the screen choose, Update and recovery
In the Update and recovery section, choose Preview builds
In the drop down, choose Fast as your delivery method
Click the Check Now button.

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If a new build is available on the Fast track, you can download and install it. The build will download in the back ground, so you don’t need to baby sit it. You can go on about your work. When it finishes, you can come back to the Preview builds PC Settings page and tap the install button. Just make certain that your PC is plugged in during the install so that it doesn’t sleep or die during the update.

What do you think about the whole OneDrive system change? What would you tell Microsoft do to do change or improve the service? Why not sound off in the Discussion area below and let me know your thoughts?

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