I got a free two year subscription with about a hundred gigabytes of Microsoft OneDrive with my Surface Pro 2. If you haven't heard of OneDrive, it's Microsofts way of extending your harddrive by allowing you to store data in their Cloud, similar to Drop Box.
A few weeks back I decided to start using it, even though this meant I had to switch to Microsoft accounts on all my computers, which I had previously objected to due to the creepiness factor.
Initially, OneDrive seemed to “just work.” I'd add a picture or some text file to the OneDrive folder on my desktop, then turn on my Surface to find it's OneDrive folder had the same file there, from the moment I booted up. This solved a major peeve of mine, which is that I must sometimes spend hours syncing files between my Surface and Desktop whenever I switch between the two. OneDrive looked posed to deal with all that crap for me so I wouldn't have to muck with rsync, git, or homegrown tools I'd devised over the years.
But like an abusive lover, OneDrive started out nice and later morphed into a frightening, erratic liar.
The big problem is OneDrive can sometimes take *forever* to copy files around. This kind of defeats the whole “seamless” idea because what I end up having to do is leave both computers on for hours while OneDrive sorts stuff out. I'm aware that this may happen due to network latency but the issues appear unrelated to the size or quantity of files being uploaded and downloaded.
That wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for issue number two: OneDrive is a liar. The interface has this uber-opaque, Fischer Price vibe to it. OneDrive appears in Windows explorer where it looks and behaves like a local drive. But the only options you get are “sync” and “pause syncing.” Oddly enough, it's always that either both are available or both are greyed out. To see the status of what it's doing, you have to open the OneDrive tablet style app, which mostly serves as a clumsy Windows 8 style file browser but contains a small status line at the top of the screen with a single phrase like “one operation in progress…”
This information is often total BS. Many times I'll open up say my Surface for the first time in a week and realize it's missing a directory of newer stuff. So I check the OneDrive tablet style app on the Surface, but all it says is “all files are up to date.” At that point I freak out, thinking maybe OneDrive believes the Surface has a newer version of the data so things will get deleted from the OneDrive servers (note: this has never happened, but I still worry about it all the time). I end up going back to my desktop with a USB drive just to backup the files I need. I'll also click sync on both machines, but get only updates such as “”getting file information…“ for a few minutes followed by ”all files are up to date." Hours later though, just as I'm contemplating abandoning OneDrive entirely, I'll check the Surface and see that the files I'd been fretting over all this time have just appeared with no fanfare.
This latency and abject lying might be ok if I left all my machines on all the time so things were also sync'd when I switched, but one point of “The Cloud” is that these big companies leave their computers on so mere mortals like me don't have to. If I have to keep my Surface and Desktop running for an hour just so a single text file will be available when I switch machines then OneDrive has failed a major part of its mission.
Finally, OneDrive has no way of excluding files. Originally I was storing major amounts of code in OneDrive before I realized it was constantly re-syncing 200mb of compiled object files back and forth. This is a huge deal breaker for storing anything other than simple scripts or compiled tools that don't change.
Even with these faults, OneDrive still does better than my old rsync scripts or Git when it comes to storing infrequently changing large media files, such as photos or drawings. For example, I can stick numerous desktop background images in the OneDrive folder and have them appear on all my machines. The best use case is that I can shove my Sublime installation into OneDrive so I always gets all my plugins on any machine, regardless of where I set them up.
However, due to OneDrive's failings I still end up having to make sure all my local git repos have been pushed to GitHub before I switch and that my old rsync scripts have run, which is a real shame.