Alright, so I set up a fresh Linux install, and am looking for good Google Drive client.
First, where am I coming from? I’m also using Google Drive File Stream (DFS) on a Mac in parallel. Any client I’m using must have the core feature of this reference client.
Looking at the website of insync, you promise to be just that. With the table, you openly claim “We’re as good as DFS and better” (the same for Backup&Sync, but that isn’t hard to achieve).
So, what is THE core feature of DFS to me? It’s what I’d translate to the entry in your table called “Sync on Demand”. After starting my insync trial yesterday, I couldn’t find that features. So there’s three options:
- You need to manually turn on that feature and I haven’t found it (in which case my question would be: where do I find it?)
- insync defines the feature differently than I do and the functionality is different (and inferior) to DFS
- The feature doesn’t exist for the Linux version of insync. In which case my question would be: why? On Mac and Win, DFS is free and pretty good, your main USP is availability on Linux.
If 1. is the case, thanks in advance for your help. If 2. or 3. are the case, insync is completely worthless for me at this point and I’ll be better off writing my own client. I’m happy to pay for software and if I don’t need to write my own solution, but when I pay, it has to deliver.
Now, to explain, what is “Sync on Demand” to me?
Here’s what DFS (on Mac) does:
- It mounts Google Drive. Probably using FUSE or something like that, but it’s a mounted volume.
- When I list the contents of this volume, I see all my files and the entire directory structure (insync doesn’t do that, the folder is empty)
- None of the files are downloaded at this point (neither for insync, that’s why they don’t show, the difference is that they show for DFS)
- In Finder, besides every file or folder on the mounted volume, there’s a small icon, either a little cloud symbol or a green checkmark. Cloud symbol means “this file isn’t cached locally, so not available offline”, green checkmark means “this file is cached locally, you can access it offline”.
- When I open an uncached file, the following happens:
- DFS downloads it from Google Drive
- It is opened
- If I change anything in the file, once I save it’s synced to Google Drive, same as a file that is cached (for all intents and purposes, it IS a cached file for the time it is open)
- When I close it (and the file is synced) it is eventually deleted from the local cache again
- all this is done automatically, I don’t have to tell DFS “Please download this file, so I can open it”. As long as I have a decent internet connection, I notice no difference in my workflow than with the file synced to disk.
- In the finder context menu, I have options to cache/uncache files and folders
- This feature is essential to me, since I don’t want so sync all (or large parts of) my Google Drive (it’s larger than the available disk space). I want to cache some files, but >90% of the files I only want to access remotely. And I don’t want the hassle of managing this, I want this file system layer which does the downloading and syncing for me.
That is what I consider “Sync on Demand”, and so far, I haven’t found it in insync? Am I wrong? Or is insync in fact inferior to DFS?
I looked into writing my own client before I discovered insync and decided to give it a shot, and most of the features seem fairly easy to realize, the most tricky part being the eyecandy stuff (symbols in file explorer whether file is cached) and the context menu cache/uncache. Mounting Google Drive in a FUSE and having a local file cache is a bit of work, obviously, but seems not that difficult.