The facts:

  • I have 1.2TB of data (work 0.8TB, personal 0.4TB)
  • I like to have all my files in on place, one folder with subfolders. It's more convenient to backup one folder stored on a single HDD, than multiple folders on multiple HDD.
  • I like to have all my files on my laptop without having to plug an external HDD all the time.
  • My laptop can only contain 1TB.

My actual work around:

  • I use OneDrive with a 1TB account.
  • I put all my work files on OneDrive (0.8TB)
  • I set old work folders (0.5TB) to status "File On-Demande" on OneDrive.
  • From there those files no longer use space on my computer. Then I have enough space to have my personal files (0.4TB)

It works pretty well; when I need some space, I just have to set some other folders to Files on demand. Files on demand in blue. Files available offline in green

It's really convenient. When a file is needed, it's automatically downloaded without any action required. When the file is not needed anymore, it's automatically deleted from my computer. I don't have to think about it. I just have the feeling that my laptop can contain all my data. Even when I make a backup, it works well. The backup automatically trigger the downloading of the file if the date or the size is different from the last backup. Otherwise, the file is already backup correctly, so the file stays offline.

My issues:

  • I want to extend my storage to 3TB, and OneDrive stops at 1TB.
  • I'd like to keep my data safe and not having to put them on a commercial "cloud" offer.
  • I'd like something more efficient than OneDrive (when there are hundreds of files to sync, it can crash).

Ideally, I'd like to sync with a network drive. This way I can have all my files all the time when I'm on my network. And when I'm outside, the "on demand files" are simply unavailable until I connect to my network (remotely via a VPN, or physically). It would work exactly as one drive, but with the possibility to set a network drive as "source" instead of the Microsoft cloud.

What I tried:

  • Mountain Duck with a local ftp server (Filezilla): very laggy
  • Mountain Duck with a external HDD: better, but still not reliable with hundreds of files enter image description here
  • Symlinks: some softwares detect they are symlinks and/or don't read them even if the destination is available. And it's not convenient to make file-by-file symlinks

enter image description here

Next cloud is about to get the "files on demand" feature. I could install it on a local computer and make it work on my local network but I'm not sure that I need such a complex system to get the result that I need. I don't need user privileges system for example. NextCloud on-demande files

So I'm searching for a simpler solution. A simple sync software with a placeholder file system and a convenient way to mark them (always available, on demand)

I hope I'm clear.

EDIT : I just found this post. It talks about expandrive. It seems to offer the same functionnalities as Mountain Duck (connect to webdav server, ftp server, etc.). My problem with this kind of softwares, is that it mount a virtual drive. And I need my files to be on my physical drive (just as how it works with OneDrive, Google Drive, and others). Files are stored in a specific folder on my physical drive. If it doesn't, softwares like Lightroom refuse to load files because they're not on my physical drive :(

EDIT 2 : I tried OwnCloud Client with virtual files support. It works pretty well. I think it's the same level of quality than OneDrive. A little slower depending on your server I guess. But it's not reliable enough to me. I tried it with a lot of thousands files and it crashes too. And worst than OneDrive, after the crash, it thinks the files are synced up while they're not :/

  • There's some demo code here for building a cloud sync engine that uses the same "file hydration" as OneDrive (see also this article). In its current state it uses a local drive for the storage, so maybe worth looking into...
    – Greedo
    Oct 17, 2020 at 14:47


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