Using Cloud Storage with The Archive?
Hi to everyone, I am new to the forum, and I've enjoyed experimenting with The Archive.app
I have a question which I thought must have been asked before but after searching the Forum I can't find anything on it (apologies if it has in fact been dealt with).
Has anyone tried using a cloud-based storage system, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud drive, or MS OneDrive as the place to house their Notes folder for The Archive?
The reason I ask is that I have an iMac in the office and a laptop (Macbook Pro) at home, and for The Archive to be useful to me I would have to have both computers accessing a synchronized Zettelkasten.
I imagine it will work, but I wonder whether anyone can say from experience how well it works and whether they've encountered any issues.
thanks in advance
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Hi Nick - I (and many others) use Dropbox to house our Zettelkasten folder. You simply go to The Archive preferences (click on the following dropdown menu - The Archive...Preferences). Then click on the icon for storage. The upper entry is to set the directory / folder for your Zettelkasten files. Here is an image of mine:
from which you can see that my main ZK folder is /Users/johnsobkowicz/Dropbox/zettelkasten
On this same screen you also set the location of the folder into which you want to place all your images - in my case, the folder is named "media" and it is a sub-folder to my main ZK folder.
Note that on my iPad, I use 1Writer to access this same ZK folder, from which I can view and edit any of the zettel files.
I haven't tried this with other cloud-based storage, but the principle is the same for each.
Hi Nick_D! I'm a Mac user and love love LOVE using DropBox for my cloud-based storage system. (I'm a PhD student, so having all my factoids and insights at my fingertips has been a lifesaver!)
A word of advice, as I literally just had to do a reinstall (because my Macbook Pro got scrubbed) -
If you run into any issues with DropBox not installing on your Mac, download the FULL software option instead of the regular one that's immediately offered. Here's the link, which only appears to be offered once the regular install fails: https://help.dropbox.com/installs-integrations/desktop/install-failed
Cheers, and best to you on your ZK adventure!
I have a question for users of DropBox.
When syncing to two or more Macs, does the file's creation time get set and reset to Dropbox's sync time when using different macs, thereby obliterating the original creation time of the file?
This probably removes all doubt as to my technological incompetence. I can not figure out what is going on. I've learned to live with it as every zettel has a creation UUID in the date and time format.
The modification time seems likewise modified by the way DropBox copies and syncs files. 204 of my zettel have a creation date of May 3, 2020. No way! May 3, 2020, is the oldest creation date, but I started zettelkasting on November 15, 2018.
The quality of our thinking is directly proportional to the quality of our reading. To think better, we must read better. - Rohan
Many thanks for these replies, everyone. Glad to know that The Archive works well with Dropbox. I've been using Dropbox since 2010, but I can't answer Will's question about how exactly it deals with things file creation dates. I have sometimes noticed that the dates seem 'wrong' but never to an extent that it interfered with anything else.
My own sense is that of the various cloud storage services I use, Dropbox should handle the text files of The Archive well enough (and quickly enough). I've found iCloud Drive sometimes takes a surprisingly long time to sync; OneDrive is still slightly unstable and 'clunky' on macOS; and Google Drive now behaves like a mounted drive rather than just a folder, and so is less accessible to the Finder or Spotlight (it is also somehow not very friendly to plain text). I would be interested to hear what others have found.
The main requirements, I suppose, are fast and reliable syncs (and so no versioning concerns), and no worries about data corruption.
In the past I used to find it quite common to have various version of files and folders ("conflicted copies" is what Dropbox and OneDrive call them) created by Dropbox because of "clashes" between the syncs (so you end up with duplicates, one labelled for each computer, and you then have to work out which one is the 'master' copy to work with); I think this usually was created by starting work with a file that is in Dropbox before Dropbox on that machine had had time to sync. This used to happen a lot but I've not seen it recently, perhaps because internet speeds and bandwidths have increased.
I just checked for files with "conflicted copy" in the filename and the last one I have within Dropbox is from 2018; I am still occasionally getting them with OneDrive.
I guess if you had conflicted copies of any individual notes in your The Archive Notes folder, your Zettelkasten would be confusing but still functional (because you'll see the duplicate versions of the conflicted files each time you search for a term) -- though this would not be that bad a problem to have.
I have once experienced file corruption which caused me to lose some work: working with a Pages document, and then finding that the OS could not open it because it was "corrupted". This actually happened with a file stored within iCloud drive (in 2018).
Thanks again: I'm now going to have to work out whether it's a good idea to try to copy notes in from other folders (into an Archive Zettelkasten)...
I checked my ZK directory on Dropbox. I have about 300 zettels (I'm a slow "creator"), extending back to mid-2000. Most (>90%) of the file creation dates match the UUID date, but I found a few that did not - in those cases, the file creation date was a bit later than the UUID date.
As for the file modification dates, they are all over the place, but always at or later than the file creation date, which makes sense, as I often edit zettels.
I would say my set-up is pretty straight forward - my ZK directory is in my Dropbox account. I access it from The Archive and occasionally from iA Writer on a Mac, fairly frequently from 1Writer on an iPad, and occasionally from iA Writer on an iPad. For the latter, I both read and modify existing files.
I am not sure why you are having the issue you stated, Will. It may, as you suspect, be due to syncing from two different Macs, but I don't see the same problem when syncing from multiple apps, two on a Mac and two on an iPad.
I know of users who rely on iCloud Drive. Not sure how often they try to access changed notes immediately from other devices (you're right in pointing out it sometimes can take forever), but in principle it's working.
I've started with Dropbox sync as well, but moved to a private Nextcloud, and that's working just as well.
Box.net and Google Drive have also been used. I have no intimate knowledge of pitfalls with any of these. With Dropbox, the worst that the end user can get is a "Conflicted Copy".
In principle, other services could fare worse, so you could lose data by overwriting/syncing an outdated version. Not sure if this happens in practice, though, because sync models like that will likely go out of business quickly
Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/
Google Drive has given me problems with Android and Windows. Dropbox has worked consistently. iA Writer has problems with the new Dropbox API for some users--I'm one of them. iA Writer lists only files that are months old.
.Erdős #2. GitHub
Sheesh, that's horrible -- thanks for sharing these findings, @ZettelDistraction! I honestly wouldn't have expected cloud storage to become worse, but that's 2022 for us.
Author at Zettelkasten.de • https://christiantietze.de/
I had stuck invisible files in Windows using iCloud, and these seemed to persist with Dropbox, until it was rectified. The cure at the time seemed to be to reinstall Windows and not use iCloud for Windows. I kid you not.
Google Drive would not play well with Zettlr. I even gave up on ZettelNotes, to my great disappointment--somehow it would cross out Zettels that it touched. I had to restore them from DropBox backups.
Then we have the iA Writer story. The developers amiably inform me that this problem affects only a small number of users. I replied that I paid the same amount for my software on two platforms as the users that received the full value for their money.
.Erdős #2. GitHub
I don’t use Dropbox and can’t recommend it after having a huge problem with this service (apparently it corrupted my data and the company decided to shut down my account, with no explanation and no money back).
Since then I’ve had a good experience with iCloud. But eventually I had the opportunity to buy a cheap Chromebook and needed something that worked with Linux and emacs.
I’ve settled with my own self-hosted infrastructure based on Seafile, which is easy to deploy (it’s simpler than Nextcloud), is multi platform, and has appropriate WebDAV support to work with 1Writer. I run it on a USD 6 per month host on Digital Ocean.