Nextcloud introduces Virtual Drive in Desktop Client to simplify desktop integration


#21

Correct me if I’m wrong but the assumption here is that all devices are always connected and have huge band width (read capital city capacity)
In my instance for 70% of my time I have zero connectivity for days and at times patchy service at best.
I also do a lot of air travel and work on flights. No band width to manage files.
Seems like I need to store locally files that with the current system are already there.
I hope my assumptions are totally flawed.


#22

This is a common feature in many clouds, eg One Drive. It seems that you can choose to have all your files synced on all your computers if you want. But you can also choose not to have them synced on your computer but only “sync” an icon that shows that there is a file that you can download whenever you need it. All your files are displayed.

It is as far as I understand not a feature that will destroy the current functionality, but only add an option. It sound interesting that the access of the cloud file for editing or whatever can be done with a time limit so that the local version is removed automatically while the source file remains in the cloud. That is an interesting feature.

To me this would be useful as I use larger storing space in the cloud than in some of my computers. This means that I can have real access to all my files although my HDD is small. Very useful.


#23

For those of us on Windows with limited space on the C: drive (SSD), it would be very beneficial to be able to set the location of the cache. My %appdata% folder (being on drive C:) can’t handle the contents of my local Music collection, for example.

Just a use-case to keep in mind to avoid regression.


#24

Don’t mean to take away from how awesome the continued development of Nextcloud has been. Thanks for all the hard work to all the contributors.

Maybe there is a better way to handle my use case, but I have people with authority to access many projects’ data but assigned on specific projects. For ease of use, our directory tree includes client and topic which we consider confidential information. I don’t want to bar team members from accessing the information for other clients or past clients projects but I can’t have all that information on everyone’s laptop with all the deliverable documents labels available for viewing by anyone looking over their shoulder.

To address that use case, we have typically synchronized folders for active projects to keep the user’s view simple on their device and prevent them from having to navigate the whole directory structure every time they access files. This also cuts down on saving or moving files to the wrong folder. Users can log on to web portal to access the full directory where they have access to all.

Individual users can manage this with explorer’s favorites or symlinks and not open the full virtual drive but I would prefer to manage that as admin rather than support team members setting it up themselves.

Also, I assume bandwidth limitations would remain applicable…


#25

I am also hoping picture thumbnails would work. As we share a huge photo collection with colleagues who are only able to work via a mobile hotspot, it is hard to even do the first sync because it would destroy the data limit. Having thumbnails on place holders would help a great deal.


#26

I don’t think this would be an improvement for all use cases. If the client crashes while I’m working on a file, and that file therefore suddenly disappears, that would be pretty bad in some cases. Or if the client wouldn’t start anymore after an update, for example, and I’d lose access to my files (especially while I’m offline - and I have pretty much all of them in my Nextcloud). So for me, I absolutely want to have my files in my local filesystem and only have them synced with my Nextcloud in the background, and I really hope this will still be possible with the official client in the future.

The option to have a virtual drive is nice, for some people this could clearly be an improvement, and I really
appreciate your work on this. But I’d also be really happy if you gave your users the choice, and still let them use the classical sync if they prefer :slight_smile:


#27

Re: [Nextcloud community] [news] Nextcloud introduces Virtual Drive in Desktop Client to simplify desktop integration
If you have a time sensitive support request,

please call our office at 586-580-2213.

Thank you

Hello,

I have to agree.

I have 3 PCs all connected to NextCloud right now. The data I need at those 3 PCs is now in four places.

I would like to have one PC set as the duplicate of the cloud, and the others set to have no local copies.

I would like to have the ability to configure a PC to work like the android client; I can see the files, but they don’t exist locally until I open them. And when I am done, they are no longer local.

I have a TB of data in 4 places, ugh!

Sincerely,

Jason Gottschalk

Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 10:24:23 AM, you wrote:

jtf

January 30

jospoortvliet:
But the files don’t exist when the client isn’t running, which is a big improvement over today (where you can make changes to files, forget to run the client, get in the plane and have outdated files).I don’t think this would be an improvement for all use cases. If the client crashes while I’m working on a file, and that file therefore suddenly disappears, that would be pretty bad in some cases. Or if the client wouldn’t start anymore after an update, for example, and I’d lose access to my files (especially while I’m offline - and I have pretty much all of them in my Nextcloud). So for me, I absolutely want to have my files in my local filesystem and only have them synced with my Nextcloud in the background, and I really hope this will still be possible with the official client in the future.
The option to have a virtual drive is nice, for some people this could clearly be an improvement, and I really
appreciate your work on this. But I’d also be really happy if you gave your users the choice, and still let them use the classical sync if they prefer


#28

@jospoortvliet The MSI installation file is under work maybe? It will be very helpful for deployment and update for large enterprise environments.

Regards.


#29

If there are many enterprise users asking for such a feature, there is a high chance to get it.


#30

I agree with many others that this virtual drive has some great potential. @jospoortvliet said

But the files don’t exist when the client isn’t running, which is a big improvement over today

which raises some questions:

  • If my laptop is in airplane mode and I have to restart the nextcloud/dokan virtual drive setup, will all files that are cached locally be immediately available?
  • Or does a (re)starting instance of dokan need at least momentary connectivity to validate its cache?

I had several significant problems with the installation (based on both dokan and nextcloud); seeing others with similar problems, I don’t know that I can add much to the discussion. (I have since returned to the main 2.5.1 release to get it working again.) After viewing the branch graph comparing “master” with “virtual-drive-techpreview”, the latter is still based on client code from August 2018 with no apparent merges (though I have not checked for cherry-picks).

I had hoped that this blog post suggested “close to ready”, but from a dev viewpoint being almost 6 months behind master suggests this is well before “release candidate” status.

  • Since the roadmap does not mention the virtual drive, can you provide insight on where virtual-drive fits into the roadmap, and perhaps update the schedule since the 2.5.2 release estimate has since passed?

Lastly, it appeared that dokan automatically determined the “X:” drive letter, and I saw no ability to configure this. Some more questions:

  • With multiple servers configured, will this automatically and consistently choose additional drive letters, or are all somehow shown under one drive?
  • How is/are the drive letter(s) determined and deconflicted from pre-existing mounts/drives?
  • Is there an ability to customize the letter(s) used?

#31

Please don’t remove the folder sync method we currently have, that would be to completely change the product.
A virtual drive demands that we move the files we want on nextcloud to that drive’s path. The current system means we can leave the files at their current path.
Eg: I have folders c:\documents\computer and c:\documents\reading synchronised on nextcloud, but not c:\documents\jokes.
I would have to move my ‘computer’ and ‘reading’ folders to a new path - but I want them in ‘c:\documents’, and any files that link to files within those folders will get broken links.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” - Abraham Lincoln et al


#32

David

I assume that this can be solved with symbolic links?

Roland


#33

@rollanders, have you found symbolic links to be usable and reliable on Windows? (I have not.)


#34

@davidhw, I wonder (do not know for certain, looking for confirmation from NC) if the c:/documents/computer (etc) is the true backing store of files that are downloaded, while the drive letter shows all files regardless of their local-cache status. That is, with the new virtual-drive premise, let’s assume you have the following dir structure in the NC server:

/david
+- dir1 -- file11, file12
+- dir2 -- file21, file22
+- dir3 -- file31, file32

(and assuming you have not yet synced any of these dirs/files to the local drive). When you start, your local dirs will be empty, and the drive letter itself X: will show all dirs/files. Let’s say you open dir1/file11, then your X: drive will still show all six files, but your local directory would then contain

c:/documents/computer
+- dir1 -- file11

So the local c:/documents/computer/ is the actual tree of dirs/files, and the X: drive is the online-available (not necessarily local yet) tree of dirs/files.

Again, disclaimer, I’m not NC, I’m just interpreting what I believe the virtual-drive behavior will look like. If it is not this, then the concept of a shadow/virtual drive is perhaps lost on me …

For me the biggest questions (still to be proven) are: how do we configure the caching period? Can we say “once synced, always sync”, or must it always “expire”? I’m confident we can configure each file to be “always available offline”, can we do the same for whole directories?


#35

@r2evans answering (most of?) your biggest questions from previous post:

It would appear you can set entire directories and/or individual files to be permanently available, just like you can currently.

My guess about your first question is there would be a single ‘cache duration’ and/or ‘cache size’ setting that applies to all except the files/directories you’ve set to be available permanently.


#36

Yes symbolic links are reliable and perfectly usable since Win 7.
But people are not used to using them on Windows.


#37

That makes one of us :wink: . I’ve always found symlinks (ln -s ...) in windows to be unreliable in the long term: they might work well solely within git-for-windows, for instance, but most other apps break with them. Perhaps I’ll play with them some more.


#38

Could not install the Tech preview. Got an error after an attempt to install Dokan - the installation packet could not be opened. Verify that the packet existand that you can reach it.


#39

Even though I got this errormessage it seems the installation succeeded. I got a Nextcloud syncfolder. But I got an error message that “All the files in your local folder “Appdata\Roaming\Nextcloud\cached files” were deleted. These deletes wil be synchronized with your server, making such files unavailable unless restored. Are you sure you want to sync those actions with the server? If it was an accident and you decide to keep your files they will be re-synced from the server” And the alternatives Keep local files , or Download new files.

It was not clear to me what action I would take to save my files. I choosed Download new files. I found a few deleted files on the server side that I restored but am not sure this happened becasue of this incident.

I went on uninstalling some programs from the computer. Every time I got the same message although the uninstallation had nothing to do with NC.

I noticed some hidden files was visible in the syncfolders. They were disturbing.
For now I uninstalled the client and the Dokan.


#40

I would really like to see some positive/successful uses of the tech-previous virtual drive. Is anybody using it able to comment:

  1. what version of nextcloud desktop was installed before installing the tech-preview?
  2. to what version of nextcloud server are you connecting?
  3. do you connect with more than one nextcloud server?
  4. did this tech-previous (and dokan) install without errors? if errors, were they superfluous or did you have to manually fix things?
  5. once started, did the X: virtual drive thing work without data-deletion errors such as @rollanders experienced?
  6. have you tried and have any feedback on the virtual-ness of it, i.e., dealt with files that are seen on the X: drive but not yet cached locally? (this would likely require some work and faith on your part)

(This isn’t a smear campaign against NC, it’s trying to offset a known self-report bias in support forums where most questions are generally not positive success stories.)

Thanks!