I switched from Dropbox to SpiderOak a while ago. For a couple of reasons. One, I wanted to upload more things to the cloud for backup, video projects etc, and SpiderOak have a personal 5TB plan. I was also starting to get nervous about security and I think the encryption system in place by SpiderOak is better than Dropbox. However, this transition has its downsides.
The SpiderOak client is not as slick as Dropbox, in fact it looks rather retro. I don’t care about the retro, but the interface takes a bit of getting used to. That said, once you get your head round it it is not difficult to use. The main downside is that if you change a lot of files on SpiderOak then your computer is going to be spending a lot of time encrypting and decrypting files. Uploading a load of photographs downloaded from my digital camera took a fair while on my MacBook Pro, and that is a fair while of one core at 100% and the fan spinning away like crazy.
That is not the only way you can flatten a laptop battery very quickly. While being a Dropbox user I got into the habit of just working straight out of Dropbox. So I would incrementally save files into the Dropbox folder, and Dropbox would dutifully upload this file into the cloud. The situation with SpiderOak is somewhat different. The save event has to be detected, and then the file is encrypted into some sort of bundle of files. This is then uploaded to the cloud. I have just finished working on a Word document and when I looked at the upload queue in the SpiderOak client, three versions of the file where there waiting to go. I have also been working on my laptop for maybe 3 hrs from full charge. The relatively large amount of work that SpiderOak is doing to do all that encryption means I have warm laptop with 28% battery… not so good.
I think this system also causes problems for SpiderOak. The client reports that I am using 1.6TB of my 5TB of space. However, when the client reports the size of my files on their severs, its over 5TB. This is because of all those duplicate encrypted files. I am not sure how they go about solving that problem. The big duplications were caused when I changed round some computer systems and the client believed that the files on the hard disks were all new version of the entire content I store on the cloud. Oh dear.
So what to do. I like the extra storage space, and I like the encryption. I don’t like the battery usage or the CPU hammering. Its fine on my huge desktops that have 8+ cores and tons on ram. I don’t even notice. At the very least, live files like that Word doc, might have to be edited outside of SpiderOak and then copied in. That or I go looking for another solution.
I don’t spend much time with Windows, my desktops are largely Linux and my laptops Macs. I do have one rather ageing Windows machine, that recently got borked by an update. It was when I was reinstalling the drivers and software that Windows update couldn’t find that I came across DriverTuner. What a hateful piece of software this is. I have been using computers for years, and I started early enough to remember the days when you had to manually set IRQs on hardware with little jumpers. So tracking through a website using the model numbers of my hardware isn’t much of a hardship. I don’t believe it would be to anyone really, we can all navigate websites…
Therefore I found it extremely irritating that when trying to install both my Canon printer and Epson scanner that I kept navigating to a specific page only to download DriverTuner. On the Epson site it even downloaded in a zip file that looked like the correct version of Epson Scan. DriverTuner is irritating because it doesn’t seem to work, it failed to find anything to install on my computer. Not only that it also seemed to want me to buy it. Would it have made me buy it to get my drivers? To me DriverTuner is nothing more than an annoying, overly complex, failed, solution to a almost non-existent problem. Another piece of crapware clogging up my system.
Canon at least had a version of the drivers and software somewhere on their site that I was eventually able to locate and download. It installed and worked. Epson, not so. I had to resort to chatting to a helper to get a link to a page that I could download the driver from. Why, manufactures, insist on making everyone download this software? Why not let people try the automatic method if they want, and let those of us who want to just go to site and get the driver without any fuss do that?
So a resent update caused no end of problems with my Windows 10 machine. It would repeatedly fail to install the update, and then when it managed it I couldn’t log into the machine. User profile not accessible. I decided that it was probably time to re-install my machine anyway. However it seems the problem came back. A little different this time.
I reinstalled but chose to leave my Nvidia Soft/Fake RAID partition unchanged as I used it as my user space. The machine re-installed, and everything appeared to be fine. I could get to the RAID array, so I left it as is and went about installing drivers and updates. Updates! This is the problem. It seems I have become one of the many victims of a Windows 10 update that stops Nvidia RAID arrays from working (see here in German). So no sooner had I updated the machine and restarted, the RAID array vanished again. So annoying. This machine is a little old but it is by no means obsolete. Its a dual quad-core opteron with 16GB of ram and a half decent GPU. Plenty of live left in it yet, esp as all I use it for is scanning and printing photographs. The RAID array still reports as healthy at boot. I suppose I should have known not to trust a fake/soft RAID long term. However, wasn’t expecting an update to do it in. So what to do… Buy a cheap RAID card off ebay and use that, turn off Nvidia RAID and use the Windows fake RAID instead? Whatever, they should have warned us of this potential if they knew.