Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I don't miss official Google Drive Linux client any more... welcome Insync!

I use a lot of Google services and I always found Google Drive very useful, it's so simple to share some document all over the world and even to edit it in a group, each "line" or "chapter" to a different person!

Google drive desktop client

I was very happy when, about 2 years ago, Google released Google Drive and they said they were going to release a Linux version soon... as of April 2014, this hasn't happened yet!
I gave up waiting for it to come, maybe one day it will; so I looked for alternatives.

Many good alternatives, but...

Dropbox has a very good linux client and a headless one, but it's only for x86, no free ARM build for mini PC. Also it has nothing that can even come close to the level of cooperative work that is possible with Google Drive.
Mega is web only, they are promising a desktop client since forever; I gave up on them too.
Owncloud is nice for the fact that you own the data, but low upload speed from my home has always been a major obstacle; also you have to host the server and it's quite heavyweight for my "plug" computers.
Btsync is quite new and amazing for sharing big files at home, none comes close to its speed, offers a free headless ARM build and it's very lightweight; but it doesn't work behind a coroporate proxy, so it often useless at work. 
Others: either no linux client or no headless client or no ARM build.

All have an at least decent mobile client, but I have never been completely satisfied until a couple of weeks ago.

Insync as an alternative Google Drive client

Let's check it out:
  • solid and reliable cloud backend: check, it's google!
  • great web and cooperative editing: check, google again
  • linux desktop client: check and it has a great bonus feature I will describe later
  • ARM headless free build: check, it's currently a test build, but it works very well and it's very lightweight (comparable to btsync)
Plus, it converts Google Drive documents to OpenOffice format on the fly; that's the feature I always wanted from official client! I have no use in backing up a file that is just a little more than a URL, I want to have the chance to backup my documents with all their content!
So a GoogleDrive spreadsheet is converted back and forth to ods, a text document to odt and so on...
Combined with a tool like Rsnapshot I can have one year (or more!) of TimeMachine-like backups of my Google Drive content at home (or wherever I like) and always choose to edit them online or offline, no limit.
What's the catch? While the client itself is free to deploy wherever you like, the subscription to their services is not. But I think that, starting at just 15$ per Google account (one time fee) it' very good value for my money and they offer a 15 days free trial period while you evaluate it.

A proper customer service

I was bit disappointed when I discovered that I could pay my subscription only by credit card (no third party payment option) and, since I have been contacted by their "happiness ambassador" I promptly expressed him my concern. In a few minutes he replied with a Paypal link I could use for payment!
That's what I call a proper customer service!

I'm happy now

I finally have a cloud sync service that does everything I need from it; and it works everywhere, truly multiplatform.

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