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Odrive Review: Offering Cloud Storage Aggregating With Limited File Sharing

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What Is Odrive?

Almost everyone uses some sort of cloud storage these days to protect themselves from loss of data on their own computer or computers. In many cases, people use multiple off-site storage and file exchange systems, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, HiDrive, Oracle Documents or 4Shared. Read our odrive review to find out if this option is right for you.

 

Odrive advertises itself as a universal sync or aggregating system that makes all your cloud storage “unified, synchronized, shareable and encrypted.” The main features include connections to various data storage systems, the ability to do background file transfers, native file access, filesharing and local synchronization. In addition, you can purchase a subscription for manual desynchronization, automatic desynching of unused files and local encryption prior to cloud storage.

At this time, odrive supports these storage platforms: 4Shared, ADrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon S3, Backblaze B2, Box, Dropbox, FTP, Google Cloud Storage, Google Drive, HiDrive, OneDrive, OpenDrive, Oracle Documents, Oxygen Cloud, SFTP, WebDay and Yandex Disk. Social platforms that are supported are Facebook videos and photos, Gmail attachments, HipChat files, Instagram, and Slack files.

In addition to its primary purpose as an aggregator, odrive also offers limited file sharing features. It doesn't have the range of those you’ll find with most cloud storage, but it’s a nice basic feature that allows you to:

  • Create a group sharing platform and send invitations to others you may want to sync to a file or folder on your computer.
  • Create a weblink to anything synced by odrive. This can be a file or folder to be shared with whomever you wish.
  • Secure the weblinks by limiting who has access, adding a password or creating an expiration date.

Setting Up

Setting Up Odrive

Once you download odrive, you’ll set up part of it through the odrive site and part of it on your own computer. You’ll need to sign up using one of several platforms you have to already have, such as Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, OneDriveforBusiness or Oxygen Cloud. Let’s look at how it works once you’ve set odrive up.

Signing in is easy, and once you’ve done so, odrive will automatically add any clouds associated with your login account. If you login to your Facebook account, your Facebook photos and videos will instantly be added to odrive. You can then download the local app and begin connecting to any other cloud storage solutions you use.

Most of the setup takes place on the odrive site rather than on your local computer. This is also where document sharing, invoicing, etc. take place. You can also configure your preferences and install the app on every one of your computers nearly simultaneously without having to authorize each computer individually. It’s a huge time-saver during the setup process if you have multiple computers, tablets, etc.

Navigation

The app is easy to navigate with clear images and intuitive functionality using the various icons on the taskbar, including auto downloads, auto de-synching, trash handling behavior, bandwidth throttling and large file handling. The taskbar also includes links to the odrive website, where you can modify connections and upgrade your account. 

The odrive app will create placeholder files for each folder’s content when you synchronize. Until you’ve done this, the folders don’t actually hold anything. The synchronization symbols let you know the status of all the files in the folder that’s actively transferring data.

Transferring Files

Odrive file transfer

Image source: flickr.com

Odrive’s files download and upload as quickly as those in Google Drive and other cloud storage applications, but there are some issues. For instance, you need to double click a placeholder folder and wait for it to download before you can open it. It’s great if you don’t want files you aren’t using to take up space, minimizing local storage and removing files or folders you haven’t used recently.

On the flip side, this uses data every time you download something, which could eat up a lot of data. If your internet connection isn’t working, you won’t have access to most of your folders and files. It works well for small to moderate files, but if you want to download high resolution images or bulky data files, you’re going to have to give odrive some time to achieve this. You can opt to manually synchronize files in advance if you want to save some time. The longer you use odrive, the better it works as you manually sync folders you use frequently. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to use those files without having to wait for a new download every time.

A minor complaint here: When you click on a file to synchronize, there’s no little icon to let you know it’s actually performing any function, so you don’t know if it’s actually syncing unless you go to the taskbar, where you can check the list of items currently syncing. For larger files, this is just an extra step that’s mildly annoying, but odrive could easily have had an icon or message pop-up that lets you know it’s doing its job.

Yes, it’s a bit inconvenient to have to sync folders and files before you actually use them, but it does save you time in applications like Dropbox, where selective synching can eat up a lot of time. If you have lots of data, the odrive synchronization process keeps you from having to keep too much data locally by only storing what you need on your hard drive.

Accessing Your Files

Any files you’ve already synced are native, so it’s easy to access that data at any time. To synchronize other files, you’ll have to use Finder in advance or manually synchronize. For example, if you try to move a file from one cloud storage to another, you won’t be able to do this until you’ve accessed the file through Finder and synchronized it. 

Otherwise, neither of the other applications will recognize the file because the folders are just placeholders until you’ve synced them. Again, it’s an extra step that adds a bit of time to everything you do until you have most of your commonly used files synchronized.

The positive side of synching and downloading only those files you need is the space you’ll save on your computer. Odrive frees up a lot of space on your hard drive when you only download what you need. The other side of that, however, is that downloading complex files in multiple folders can be very time consuming. If you want an entire file that has over a hundred documents and images in it, you will need to go into the folder and issue an individual command for each document and image. If you have commonly used folders with lots of files and subfiles, this is tedious and eats up RAM, slowing your computer to a crawl.

Odrive’s Syncing Features

  • Universal folder for everything aggregated from cloud storage providers in one folder
  • Desktop access integrated with your file manager
  • Selective synching of only needed files to free space on your hard drive
  • Synching from network servers and/or USB drives that automatically syncs when connected

Unsyncing Files

Here is where the biggest difference is between the free and the paid version of odrive occurs. In the free version, you can’t desynchronize files. During the trial, you can specifically tell a folder to stop syncing or it will automatically unsync if you haven’t used the file or folder for a specified time period. This makes it more difficult to keep your hard drive clean if you’ve downloaded files that you may not be using again soon. 

If you want to remove files without removing them from the cloud storage provider, you’ll either have to pay the subscription fee or unlink odrive from your storage account and link up again in a different location, meaning you’ll have to start the whole process over again.

File Encryption

File Encryption

Just like most cloud storage solutions, encryption is set up using a web interface. You tell odrive what location on any of your cloud storage systems you want encrypted and odrive takes care of it. This doesn’t happen immediately, however. If you encrypt even a relatively small file, it takes a while before it shows up in its original drive (Google, 4Share, etc.). 

Encryption takes time in odrive, particularly if it’s running in the background while you’re performing other functions, so don’t expect an encrypted file to show up in the cloud for several minutes or up to an hour.

Storing Social Media

folders

Not all cloud storage synchronization programs include storage of social media content, such as photos and videos, without you having to go to these accounts and manually download all those old pictures. Just log onto your Facebook account, click on Finder and access all your albums. It’s awesome for personal accounts, but sadly doesn’t work for Pages.

Pricing

Odrive used to offer Unsyncing as an add-on function that was a stand-alone for $39 annually, but they’ve now launched a Premium program for $99 annually that includes Unsyncing plus several other features, including customization of syncing options to suit each individual’s needs and additional encryption. You can no longer pay for just the Unsyncing function. 

Smart on their part, but for some people, the $99 may seem a bit steep if the only added feature they need is the ability to unsync their files periodically. However, since odrive is one of the few aggregate services that also offers a decent file-sharing interface, it’s still coming in at a very reasonable price.

Our Take-Away

The best feature of odrive, beyond the obvious ability to synchronize all your cloud storage into one functional app, is the ease with which you can synchronize and desynchronize files automatically with the paid version of the program. It combines remote access and local caching, and you can tailor it to meet your specific use. But for people who are frequently working with complex files or who access the cloud frequently, the initial need to manually synchronize folders is a bit time consuming.

Odrive’s encryption with the Premium version works extremely well, and it’s nice that you don’t have to do anything to get that added safety. It simply runs in the background with no input from you. Transfers from your computer to a wide range of cloud storage solutions are quick and efficient, and you have easy access through one interface, which simplifies things if you’re storing a lot of information in the cloud.

The task bar is pretty basic, and a lot of the configuration and setup is actually done through the odrive website. This doesn’t really make a huge difference either way for users, but the menu looks rather basic. It does the job, but you won’t be impressed with its design. Fortunately, once you get everything set up, this becomes less of an issue. It’s a bit of a learning curve that you’ll quickly get used to. Once you’ve got the hang of it, the menu design will become a non-issue.

If you work with complex files or access the cloud a lot, however, odrive’s unfortunate memory-hogging behavior prevents it from being a top contender for a cloud integration tool. Because it slows over time, you may find yourself having to quit and restart every time it starts chewing up too much RAM. If this situation is resolved in the future, odrive could become a great tool for keeping your cloud storage under control and easy to access.

Odrive’s best feature is without a doubt the fact that you only synch and download what you need to use, freeing up tons of space on your hard drive. For users without a lot of memory who have a lot of content farmed out to various cloud storage providers, odrive can be an ideal solution. Take our advice, however, and upgrade to the Premium version. It functions more smoothly and has some extras that are well worth $99 annually.

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