2021, Allison Sheridan
Chit Chat Across the Pond

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[0:00] Music.

[0:07] Well, it's that time of the week again. It's time for Chit Chat Across the Pond. This is episode number 764 for April 13th, 2023, and I'm your host, Alison Sheridan. Well, I've always said that I enjoy talking to Adam Angst of Tidbits so much that I'd listen to him talk about advances in toenail clipper technology. So I'd like to welcome back to the show— I have opinions there. I have opinion.
Of course you do.
Hello, Alison. I don't believe that. It's like when Adam and I get together, it's instant improv. Whatever I say he's already got the answer to it.
And answer to. There's probably multiple ones. That's true. That's true.
But I'm more reliable than chatGPT.
Well, that's, that's, set your bar a little bit higher. Just, just, just a little bit higher than that.
Well, Adam wrote a really interesting article at the beginning of February in tidbits.
And it would have been really, really good if I had read that article before I ran into some huge problems that I didn't realize were caused by what he's going to teach us about today.

[1:06] That's why I write it at specific times, because I know you're going to, but you've got to read the article. I'm telling you. Yeah, my attention span.
They're timed properly. Exactly. You just have to get to it.
If I just read it. I did eventually circle back to realizing this was the root cause, but I didn't even know it was the root cause until I was most of the way done reading your article. So it's really unfortunate. So everybody should subscribe to Tidbits. Sorry, not just subscribe, actually read what they write in Tidbits, because it's amazing stuff.
Because it will solve the problem you're going to have next week.
Just guarantee. That's what I need to do. I got to put it on the schedule.
All right. So maybe you want to set up what it is we're talking about here.
Let me give one quick, I'll give a quick setup.
Has anybody here noticed that all of a sudden all of their cloud services moved into the location section of the left sidebar of their Finder window?
That's what we're going to talk about today, which I thought was just, oh, cool, they're more convenient now. I had no idea what was going on under the hood until I read Adam's article.

[2:03] Adam Backman Yeah, that's probably the most overt thing. I mean, they might have been good and told you they were doing something, but let's face it.
Apps update and tell us they're doing something all the time. And so it's a blah, blah, blah, whatever. You're busy, you're trying to get something done. It's thrown up this dialogue, and yeah, fine, go away. And...
JG Well, and we're trained. Do your updates. Always do the updates, right? Because that's how you stay secure. You better do your updates.
Updates. So this one turned out to be interesting and who read it?
Yeah. And depending on who you are and what you do, it could have happened like three or four times with different services.

[2:42] So we're talking cloud storage here. That's the real thing. So Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive, not iCloud Drive.
Interestingly, iCloud Drive is special, like so many other things from Apple.
It also affected KeepIt that I use from Reinvented Software.
It's like an Evernote replacement, and it moved.
Yep. Yep. So basically...

[3:06] These things have been around for a long time, these services. And what their great innovation was, way back when was they integrated with the Finder. And let's focus on Dropbox because they were the first and kind of the most interesting to begin with. And so you got a Dropbox folder in your home folder, and it was just a normal folder with normal files in it. But anything you put in there automatically uploaded to the Dropbox cloud, and then down to any other of your devices you you had. Now there's other collaboration features in two, but that's not relevant for this talk.
So basically, you suddenly got this Finder folder that was automatically synced with all your other devices, which is pretty cool, right?
I thought so. I still think so, actually. We still think so. It was really neat. We all we all loved it. And then as we got Google Drive, and we got Box and we got Microsoft OneDrive, and they all more or less worked in the same way.
There were differences between them, and they actually, different ones changed over time.

[4:12] So, some of them, for instance, used a product called MacFuse to turn themselves into literally volumes. So, it was more like, you know, the data was all on your drive, but it looked like a disc.
So, when you have a disc showing up in the Finder on the desktop, they were their own discs. So, some of them did that for a while. It varied. The important thing is it was all that way and different for each one of them. So what was true of Dropbox was not necessarily true of Google Drive was not necessarily true of OneDrive. There was also another interesting fact, which we'll get to in a minute, which was you could say that you wanted your Dropbox folder, Google Drive folder, or whatever to be stored on an external drive.

[4:55] Oh, okay. So if you didn't have enough internal storage, you could have offline storage there.
Okay. Precisely. Precisely.
Makes sense. So this is all good. However, Apple, in its infinite loop wisdom, decides that...
I see what you did there.
Yeah, very good. Right on the spot, too. I wasn't even planning that.
The Apple decides that they want to kind of create a unified approach to online storage services within macOS.
And so they come up with something called the- I'm not against that. No, no, no.

[5:34] This is actually not a bad thing. It was confusing how they all were different and some of them like Google Drive was sitting at the top level, but I didn't want it there and I tried to move it and it would come back and put it in the sidebar, but then it would disappear. It was weird.
Absolutely. Absolutely. You know, that's so right. So to be clear, Apple is not doing this from like ill intent. And so it makes the goal is to make everything consistent and so that they all work in the same way, which Apple, I mean, this is really kind of one of Apple's things, right? You know, consistency, you know, when you want to do something, it should work the same way every time. And whether it's Dropbox or Google Drive, it shouldn't really be that different.
This change was also part of getting rid of kernel extensions too, wasn't it?
Yeah, precisely. So that's the other thing is that all of these to be able to really muck with a finder in this way, and to do all the file transfers in the background and whatnot, you had to have a kernel extension. And Apple announces, I'm not sure, two years ago, maybe? At least, yeah.
That kernel extensions are going away. Really, we mean it sometime. Now, Apple is pretty good about not making that happen too soon. They understand that it's a big deal for a developer to completely re-architect their software.
Well, and they also notify the users a lot. I mean, I got rid of my Drobos a couple of years ago and I'm still getting the notice telling me the Drobos software because I can't find it. It's a kernel extension, but if it's on my Mac, I can't find it.

[6:57] Oh, we can talk more about clean installs some other time. If you'd read tidbits, off this week, you'd know. Level 2 clean install.
I would love to talk to you about clean installs because I have opinions.
Always the best. So, so in any event, so Apple says, okay, we're going to do, you know, we're going to deprecate kernel extensions. And so but we've come up with a better way for you all to deal with this. And it's frankly, it's probably easier for all of these companies too, because they're going to say, hey, look, there's now this thing called the file provider API. And you basically you do your stuff talking to your service, no problem. And then you just call the FileProvider API and we do all the stuff on the Mac.

[7:39] And this makes it easier for the developers. They don't have to maintain all this weird Mac code.
Safer and more reliable for users, no kernel extensions. And Apple has a consistent user experience.
This is not a bad thing in any way, shape, or form.
However, there's some consequences. And that's where this article came from, which is these consequences, because they're sort of subtle.
So they're a little hard for the cloud storage services to convey concisely.
And what I kept running into... I mean, actually, it took me a long time to write this article, because at first, it was just like stream of consciousness. Oh, this happens in Dropbox. Oh, look, Google Drive's different. Oh, look, OneDrive still does this.
And then you thought maybe you should try to draw a cohesive story.
Yeah, right. And then I'm like, okay, I got it. I spent three days doing this. Sort of like, okay, now I gotta dive back in and rearrange everything once again.
RLF So you know what your problem is? You seem to like to be concise and clear and factual in your writing. MW Damn it!

[8:47] RLF It's a lot easier if you just fling crap out there and just move along.
MW There's definitely something about monkeys and Shakespeare and flinging, but I'm not going to go there. So in any event, I started trying to pin down these services and what they were doing and figure out where they were similar, where they were different. And that's where the article comes from. And indeed, as you called out at the top, one of the really key things that people notice first is that sidebar locations in Finder Windows change.
That you probably had them in some location before, but it was not locations, almost certainly.
And that's now just a checkbox in the Finder settings.
And so if you actually go to, you know, Finder settings or Finder preferences and look in the sidebar pane, you'll see there's now a cloud storage checkbox and click that and they'll just show up there. So that's, you know, that's sort of the simple thing.
But here's where part of this is where this is like my personal experience, it's better now, but when they were first doing this, and it's obviously it's been sporadic over time, they weren't very good at making the move, from where they had stuff before.

[10:03] To where it has to be now.
Brief moment of let's talk about where all data has to live now.
There is one location, which is your user folders, library folder, in a folder called cloud storage.
So tilde slash library slash cloud storage.

[10:21] And that is the one location to rule them all. Yeah, okay.
That's good. That's good. Again, good, good, good. So, you know, like, they're all in one spot.
We now know if you need to do backups, restoring, things like that, you know that that's a place you can look for things, etc., etc.
So, but that's different, right? And so the upgrade process for a number of them wasn't very smooth.

[10:46] They tend to, because you had this folder, like you had your Dropbox folder, your Google Drive folder, whatever. And then they went and sort of installed all this new stuff.
And maybe they moved everything, but they didn't necessarily get rid of the old folder reliably.
Plus, and then if you add sidebar aliases, basically sidebar items to things in that folder.
So like I have the tidbits financials folder in Google Drive, which I had a sidebar item for.
And when my folder got disconnected, in other words, my Google Drive folder, they moved all its contents, but they didn't get rid of the old one.
My sidebar item was pointing at something that wasn't being synced, because it wasn't actually pointing at the new location.
Did you talk about the sidebar stuff in the article? Because I didn't see that. Yes.
And I did... Look out for disconnected local folders. Well, I read about disconnected local folders, but I didn't realize that the sidebar was doing it. Oh, this has gotten real weird. Oh, yeah, I am going to have to go through what you... Yeah.

[11:46] What? Yep. So, basically... So what you should see is till the library cloud storage, and then for example, Dropbox. And if you look in Dropbox, that's all your stuff, correct?
Right, correct. But if you see stuff anywhere else, That's deep in the hierarchy, right?
And if you keep anything in like your home folder, well, we'll talk about that.
Because what was true in the earlier days of this migration isn't necessarily true for people who have migrated more recently. Okay.
So, so. And let's say again, I'm not sure people, maybe everybody else paid better attention than I did, but I didn't realize I'd migrated. I just pushed, sure, do the update. So I didn't know any migration had happened. And Dropbox hasn't completed it yet.

[12:31] Some people are getting like, hey, you should upgrade your Dropbox on one Mac, but not on another. Oh, that's cool.
So it's actually okay, because the Dropbox service is between them. But that's my point, is it's confusing right now to what state you're in, mostly with Dropbox. The others have all pushed the migration harder. So they're not as concerning. But if it happened relatively recently and you didn't notice, and you say you don't use Google Drive a ton, but you do use it for certain things, you might not have noticed that your folders are disconnected.

[13:06] And so you could be working the disk. And this is what happened to me. I was like, that was literally saving, like payroll PDFs and stuff like that in the Tibbets Financials folder.
And then I came to my desktop, I was doing it on my laptop, I came to my desktop, I'm like, where are they? Why aren't they here? And I realized...
But I'm so used to that happening, like between Steve and me. We do all our travel stuff is in Google Drive. And I'm really used to going, okay, well, let me go figure out why Google Drive stopped syncing today, but I still wouldn't have been able to diagnose it.
So, yeah, so it wasn't until... And actually, the same thing happened on Tanya's machine, where she ended up with these two folders. And then, of course, you've got to go back and think, how much work have I put into this system that might not have been synced anywhere? Because then you can't just throw out the disconnected folder, right? It might contain data that's not anywhere else. So, yeah, so that's sort of the big kind of warning, warning, warning that you got to be careful of.
So, but the reason why I said it's not quite as simple as just looking, like, oh, no one looks in library slash cloud storage slash dropbox whatever, is because, all the services now they wised up and they make a symlink in your home folder.
So you do have a dropbox folder and a Google Drive folder in your home folder. But.

[14:27] If they're done right, their simlinks, not standalone folders, and you can tell that easily in Terminal, but not in the Finder. It's not trivial to determine in the Finder what's a simlink and what's not.
Okay. So, again, the article has a little bit of, you know, Terminal command to look at, to explain what's what, because it's useful to be able to figure that out.
I'm gonna give you one little tip while you're here that I think you might enjoy in the ease of explaining how to, Open a folder in the finder if you have the path bar showing. Oh, yes, you can right-click and, And open in terminal so you can go right there without a bunch of shenanigans But you you had extra shenanigans in there that you said you do the open and turn. Oh, see I always do that, Well, it's not quite the same thing though Let's see if I hang on let me let me go to a deeper one.

[15:29] Oh, yeah. So I tend to do, I know what I'm doing here is more dragging. The tip that my tip is if you drag a folder from the finder into terminal, you'll get the real path to it, which is important when working with these things in the library cloud storage folder, because it turns out they actually can have slightly funny names.
Yeah, like it had your, my drive had my email address as part of the name.
Google Drive does that. And I believe Box does too, but Dropbox does not.
Yeah, I wonder whether the right-click open in terminal does or not.
Yeah, the right-click open in terminal is just kind of sweet little...
I didn't actually... I mean, I sort of...
I was where you could right-click and get on those folders, but I actually had never done the right-click in terminals, so that's a good one to have. It was a listener sent in, and I don't remember who it was.
They knew, they knew.
Yeah, okay. So you have instructions in there on how to find out whether the folders that you see in your home folder are symlinks or whether they're duplicate folders, which I thought I didn't have, and I do.

[16:30] Right. Sim links are duplicates or aliases. An alias is not the same as a sim link, but that's why I say the finder is not really reliable. Because if you do get info on your, like, the Dropbox folder and your home folder, if it's a sim link, it'll say it's an alias in the finder.
Yeah, I think that's a feature of Apple nowadays, is to just sprinkle random names around the exact same thing. Like a workflow and a quick action. There's like 11 names for it.
Yeah, precisely. So that's nice.
Yeah. And they're all part of continuity, just so we're clear.

[17:06] Now that's continuity camera? Wait, no.
Continuity. It's all continuity. I don't know what continuity is, but I know it when I see it.

[17:16] So in any event... So you've got instructions on how to figure that out.
I got it. I got it. But so there's another corollary to this, like the folder might get disconnected, which is some apps and things that you've made aliases to and whatnot.

[17:32] If they're hard-coded and this symlink thing doesn't work or you don't have it or whatever, they might break. Those paths might no longer resolve. So for instance, BBEdit and Keyboard Maestro have options to store your application support files and your macros and stuff like that, in Dropbox. And so at one point in all this mess, I had trouble because BBEdit didn't know where any of its stuff was. And KeyboardMyshell was like, all my macros were gone. It wasn't that they were gone again. It was that they weren't updating because it was pointing at some local version.
Okay. And I was like, yeah! So it's just sort of a reminder that it can be more than just a sidebar item that gets confused by this. So those disconnected local folders can actually cause apps to misbehave as well.
Right, right. Okay, okay. I'm glad you're not going through all of the specific instructions, but it was pretty easy to follow to see. Now that I'm looking, two of mine are sim links.
Good. But my drive is not. And that's bad. And it also explains a symptom that I saw that I thought I'd fixed and I couldn't figure out why I didn't fix it was the sidebar item.
One of my sidebar items says, Mammoth 2023, parentheses one.
Like, why does it have parentheses one? Let me go fix that. It's back.

[18:59] So I didn't really fix it because I went and fixed it over in my drive, but it's not really fixed here in whatever this sidebar thing is, which is... And I've also been running out of disk space. Might have both. A perfect segue. Because so this was one of the big things.
So when I started researching this, it sounds like you and I use these services relatively similarly, like relatively small files, a fair number of them, but not millions. I mean, I mean, we're kind of normal users.
There are people who are not normal users. Again, we were talking earlier, people who are not like me, which is fine, which is fine, I'm not criticizing, but there are people who do video work, who have terabytes in Dropbox.

[19:43] Now, I personally think this is kind of crazy because I frankly wouldn't trust Dropbox with terabyte-sized files and whatnot, but hey, if it works for them, it works for them.
I'm not gonna criticize. And so there is an incredibly long thread. It's like, I don't know, 50 screens of comments about this problem, which is that you cannot have your Dropbox folder on an external drive anymore.
It has to live in tilde slash library slash cloud storage, which is on your internal drive.
Because of the API. Apple mandated that. because of the API. Apple mandated that. So this is a big problem for all the Dropbox people.
And I was like, hundreds and hundreds of comments. And when people are saying like, I pay Dropbox thousands of dollars a month because they have multiple terabytes of data with a Dropbox business account. They've got bunches of users. They've got 20 users who are all working on this stuff, etc, etc. They consider this... This is like mission critical core of their business. And so you can imagine how happy they are with the, oh, it has to all live on in your internal drive.
I'm sure they blame Dropbox.
They're very unhappy with Dropbox. I mean, it's not entirely Dropbox's fault, obviously, but yeah, Dropbox has not solved this for them.
And to be fair, their Dropbox is customer in this particular case.
So, however, of the four, the big four.

[21:11] Microsoft solved it. Oh, really? So, yep, with OneDrive, and this is only OneDrive, Microsoft figured out how to separate, they called it their sync route, which has to be in library slash cloud storage.
From their cache, and their cache, you can now push off to an external drive.
And the cache is where all the data lives of offline files, so files you've downloaded.
We'll talk a minute about the offline versus online files in a minute too.
But so Dropbox, to their credit, at some point says, we get that this hurts.
We are working on it and we are stopping upgrades for everyone who has their Dropbox folder pointed to an external volume.
That's good. So, yeah.
I have a question here. What happens to that cache thing?
Yes, yes, yes, in the back, Allison. Yeah.
No, I always sit in the front row, you know. That's true, so do I.
That's why we're sitting right.
That's how we met in person, was sitting side by side. Teacher, so what happens if you run an app like CleanMyMac and it has that thing that says, recover 22 gigabytes of space if you purge these caches.

[22:23] Don't know. Good question. That would be sad.
I would suspect that they would know that OneDrive's cache is separate.
Different cache. Is different. Yeah. I mean, I suspect that CleanMyMac's cache is stuff that's like really well-known Apple slash Unix caches that are... Because just if nothing else.

[22:44] In the kind of like, if you're going to build a utility like that, and the MacPaw people are not dumb. You only work on data that you know is safe to delete. I mean, cache data is usually for just for performance reasons. So you would only touch that. So I think that's safe.
Yeah. It's good to start with MacPod. Not stupid.
Yeah, right. Not stupid. Very nice people. Real nice people. Very nice people.
Very nice people holding on like crazy in Ukraine. So, you know...
Yeah. I think that should be in every ad for them. Also, they're in Ukraine.
I mean, those are people who sent an apology because they were going to be a little late getting back to people because their country got invaded. Yeah, right.
So sorry. Customer service is a little delayed because of missiles. Yeah.
Oops. Yeah. Yeah. No.
Super nice people. Yeah. I hung out with them at a conference shortly before the pandemic.
So I was like, they were kind of foremost in my mind when all this nonsense happened.
So. Yeah. about external drive stuff. There's a couple other workarounds which give me the... Well.

[23:52] There's one workaround for Dropbox, which I have not tried, but I think is a cool idea.
There's an open source Dropbox client called Maestral. M-A-E-S-T-R-A-L.
I've heard about that.
I have not used it yet. And part of the reason is because I need to install it on an older...
It's best if it's used when you don't want Dropbox installed for real. And Dropbox has three device limit for free accounts. I need to like spin up another Mac and install Maestro on it so I can see how it works in that scenario. I just haven't gotten around to it yet.
But Maestro does not. It uses the public Dropbox API. So it's pretty much guaranteed to survive.

[24:33] Dropbox isn't going to kill that API willy-nilly because they're not Elon Musk.
But it does, the one thing it doesn't do that Dropbox does, it doesn't do what's called binary diffs. So with Dropbox, let's say you have a, you know, a 50 megabyte file and you change one word, Dropbox is smart enough to just upload that one word.
And then download that one word to everyone else. So it's very efficient in its transmission.
The Dropbox API does not allow that, the public one. So Maestro says, oh, that 50 megabyte file has changed.
I don't care if it's one word, I'm uploading 50 megabytes up and 50 megabytes down to everyone else.
So if you edit a part of a 200 gigabyte video file, you're uploading and downloading 200 gigabytes again.
So that's the problem. Sort of just the people who need this.

[25:23] Yeah. Okay. Right. It's not really going to work for the big video, folks.
So, so this is a screen flow. The video editor I use for doing screencasting very specifically throws up a warning saying, do not save your files on Dropbox because it's unreliable, because it's unreliable, not because of this.
Yeah. So the problem is, is that apps do not like having their data moved around underneath them.
And that can happen. So what if someone's opened the same file somewhere else?
Yeah. You know, that like bad stuff can happen.
Happen. So there is actually a solution. And I did a second article about this because I didn't know about it when I wrote this first one. For the video people who really do have terabytes of video and a 20-person work group who need constant access to all this, there's a service called Lucid Link. And it's not cheap, but it's not expensive in the category of people who are spending thousands of dollars a month on Dropbox. And I would say that it's, like twice as expensive as Dropbox for or something like for your normal user. But, anyway, what Lucidlink does, which is mind-bogglingly clever, is they go back to the MacFUSE idea. So they actually mount what looks like a drive on your desktop. But unlike all the old cloud storage services in the past, Lucidlink's backing store, where the data really is, is a cloud-native file system.

[26:50] Okay, Dropbox and Google Drive are not that? No, no, no. You're always working on local data. You are never working on anything in the cloud.
This is a cloud-native file system.
So you need a lot of bandwidth?
You do need a fair amount of bandwidth, but they and I, immediately, I hit exactly the same things like, you got to have fiber or whatnot, like fiber be good, no question. But they say basically for a couple of reasons, one, they have very significant caching. So they do cache a lot of data locally. And also a normal SSD or hard drive would read data in 4K chunks. That's what the block sizes, and whereas they make 256 kilobyte chunks. So they're bringing in, you know, somewhat larger buts. But basically, apparently, I'm taking this on faith, and you know, customers saying it works, video apps are kind of happy to stream, to bring in data like this.
They're really not perturbed by it at all. Word doesn't like it so much.

[28:04] But you're never going to have a file that you probably couldn't deal with like that.
So, I mean, in some sense, every...
Because remember, think about it, this is just a file system. So Word says, you double-click a document, Finder says, open this in Word, and Word's like, waiting for this file. That file, think about when it was on floppy. It was slower than when it's coming from SSD.

[28:27] Word still has to wait until it's gotten what it needs. So this is just, it could be a slight delay longer, but if you have 100 megabits down, that used to be Ethernet, right?
Right, right, right. So in any event, so Lucidlink is very cool.
And anyone who's doing significant video or has terabytes of data should absolutely look at it. So that's as an alternative to Dropbox? Not... As an alternative to...
Yes. Okay. Yes. And they actually have a comparison between Dropbox and Lucidlink and Google Drive and Lucidlink.
Okay. So, but as I said, they seem like... I'm fascinated by what they're doing because it's technically brilliant in terms of having the internet be your backing store, I mean, like instead of a hard drive or an SSD, so underneath the file system.
So, okay. Let's stick into the part about what's stored locally and in the cloud, because that's where things get real dicey for normal people.
That's so, okay. So again, this is not new, but it is Apple made it consistent.
So there's a problem with these cloud storage services, which is you have a 256 gigabyte drive on your MacBook Air.

[29:40] Or something like that.
And you've got a two terabyte Dropbox account. There's no way you can fit all this stuff on your Mac.
And this has been true for years, nothing new here. Well, that's part of why those things are so useful.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Because I mean, Dropbox had the idea of selective sync, for instance.
It's why I used it instead of iCloud.
Yeah, precisely. And they all had something along those lines. So you could either say, I need this stuff to be local at all times so that I can use it on an airplane, so it's fast to open, etc., etc. And this other stuff, yeah, I can wait. I can wait for it to come in. It's not going to be a problem. And so what Apple said is, okay, fine. We understand that this is is important. And so Apple has the concept, the terminology differs a little bit because they all tweak it around. But, you'll see offline used or pinned sometimes to indicate files that live on your drive, they have been downloaded, right, versus online only. And online only files, as the name suggests, are just like their icons, their placeholders. And when you double click them or open them in any other way, they have to download before they can be opened.
But you're in control of what's in that versus not in that as it goes to iCloud, where it's going, don't worry, you're pretty little ahead about it.
I'm gonna move these files that you don't need.
We got this, we got this. Even if you have a massive drive.

[31:08] Yeah, yeah. So, right, precisely. So, well, at least in theory, I haven't done exhaustive testing on this, but yes, you can specify at a folder level whether something's online only or offline.
And of course, anytime you open something, it automatically becomes offline.
So the important thing about this is that online-only files don't really exist.

[31:35] Right? Think about it. Consider, think of it on your dive. On your drive, they don't.
So think about them like an alias. Think of them as an alias to this cloud storage.
So you click filename.pdf, and it's gonna download and open.
But could you search the contents of filename.pdf before you download it? No, no, no.
There's no contents. Spotlight can't do a thing. There's nothing to search. Right.
Similarly, can you back up the contents of file name.pdf? No, no, no, no, because there's nothing to do.
There's no context there. You're backing up an alias, basically.
At best, you're backing up an alias. And I say that at best, because in fact, this is one of the places where the different services, vary. For instance, with Google Drive, I have to verify this.

[32:38] With Dropbox, you'll see folders that contain online-only files, but there'll be nothing in, them. With Google Drive, you won't even see those folders if there's nothing in them.
And that when you like you go to a restore from from a backup app.
Because again, it's like there's nothing there, right? No, they're there.
It's like, I'm not gonna say it's like Oakland. But the so so basically, these these things are really amorphous.
And what that means is, or what I recommend to everybody is let's say you've done this migration.
I can't predict what's going to have happened, but I believe that what it will try to do is have everything be online only, in most cases. Online only?
Online only, because that's the truth, right? Truth is in the cloud.
And so the local version is just a copy. And so when you first do the migration, easiest thing for them to do is just say, truth's in the cloud, all this local stuff, whatever.
That seems like a poor way to do it if you have specifically said, I would like this folder to be offline.

[33:50] Well, so again, this is at the migration level, when you first done your migration.
Okay, not knowing you've done your migration, by the way. Yeah, right, right.
So we don't know if you have or not.
And I don't know that this is the case, but when looking at mine, man, there's a lot of stuff offline, which I don't think it should ever have been offline.
So what I'm recommending is that if you are interested in searching or backups on these files- Working on a plane.
Working on a plane. Well, working on a plane's different from what I'm gonna get to in just a second, which is that for searching and backups, immediately go in and make everything offline If you control click, select all the folders, control click, and there's some kind of a command in there.
It varies a little bit by service, and I've got some of the examples in the article, whatever.
But it's pretty obvious. It's like download now or make offline or something like that.
Again, like Dropbox and Google Drive are quite different that way.
But they've all got something along those lines. If you make everything offline, that has download every piece of data I have in Dropbox and Google Drive, whatever. If you have enough disk space.
If you have enough disk space, again, assuming that's possible.
And if you don't, you can probably do it folder by folder to make sure you have enough for and go back and forth. And then let it sit until it backs up and Spotlight indexes it.
Right? Because once that's done...

[35:13] It should be in the index. And even if you then later go back and say, I need this disk space back, and you evict them by saying, remove download or make online only, whatever the command is.

[35:26] They'll be in your backups at that moment. They should be in Spotlight for searching. Spotlight's a little fluffy on the searching. And so, you basically will have all those capabilities back.
Now, as you said, with planes, yeah, you got to make it offline before you leave.
There's no two ways about it. Can I tell you the weird way I found this? So I said, had I read your article, and by the way, I said at the beginning that it was in February, but that was when you had a title of an article, Cloud Storage Forecast Unsettled with Possible Storms.
That was actually February of last year. Oh gosh, it was. Well, I'm really not paying attention.
This has been going on for a while, right? No, this one was early March.
So yeah, the article we're talking about was March 10th.
I sort of thought it was all going to be cleared up by now. So clearly not.
Exactly. But you are a good weather forecaster. So the way I discovered this was really obscure.
I run a WordPress site for and I run a plugin called UpdraftPlus.
And UpdraftPlus takes a snapshot of my website and it uploads it to Dropbox.

[36:29] Well, I don't need a million of these. So I have Paul Kim's wonderful Hazel look at that folder and delete everything that's older than a month.
So I only need like the last month's worth.
And so it cleans it up, cleans it up, cleans it up. And then one day I'm looking, I'm going, why is it full? I mean, there's like 40 of these folders in there.
And so I go in and I look at the errors that are coming from Hazel and it says, resource deadlock avoided.

[36:58] Excuse me? So, luckily, Paul is an incredibly responsive, wonderful developer, and he said, I don't know what that is, but I've been getting a lot of reports about it from people who use OneDrive. I'm going to need you to contact Dropbox.
So, I wrote to Dropbox, and they kind of started in the middle of the story, but eventually took me back to, oh, we wrote a blog post about what was happening, and here's why.
Don't you read our blog? Well, I gave him a hard time about that, going, yes, it's the first thing I read every morning is the Dropbox blog, but the bottom line was the files weren't local.
So Hazel couldn't delete them because they didn't exist here.
But I sent that information back to Paul, and I'm going to send him a link to this article that goes into more depth, because I said, if you get any comments from people from Dropbox, just send them right to this blog post, because it says very clearly you might not be able to do stuff with these files because they don't actually exist.
And they said, go to the top level Dropbox folder, right click and say, make offline.
And that brought everything in.
And, but here's an interesting question for you, which is if you're still doing this, new ones come in, do they come in as online only?
If I create a new folder, you mean?

[38:11] Or a new file in a folder? The backups are happening automatically, aren't they?
From updraft plus? Oh, yes.
Let's see, Dropbox apps. Let's see, Dropbox apps.
I'm betting those are online only when they come in.
As of two days ago, it's online. Offline. Yeah. No, no, no. Sorry.
It's offline. I have dark green check marks next to everything.
Okay. So they said that would work. Okay.

[38:39] That once you declare the folder level. Oh, okay. Yes. So that's a good student at the folder level. Yeah. So basically that's, that's my, my, my, my concern here is, is that it's not quite clear to me what will happen going forward. And again, that's Dropbox who knows what box and Google drive and one drive do for their default action for new stuff. So hopefully it all works, but we don't actually know that. Let's count on it. Yeah. Let's count. It always works.
So there's another thing, which is, it's not actually related to the offline online thing, but I do want to mention, which is some of... Okay, this was weird before too. So remember, some of these services sort of set themselves up as drives and others as folders.
Oh, right. That could be a little weird for volumes and... Yeah, right. Volumes and folders. And so you You could run into some weirdnesses in two places.
One was moving files, right? Because if you move a file between volumes, it copies.
If you move a file between folders, it moves. Oh, but that behavior is different now.
But it always moves now.

[39:47] That makes sense. Because they're on library slash cloud storage, right?
It makes total sense. But that's different enough that they warn you about it.
Some of them warn you about it.
Okay. There could be, some of the dialects, they're not confusing, but if you don't know why you're being told this, you're like, okay, fine.
It moves down the copies. I don't know. But if you were used to, I could move it from my OneDrive over to this folder I share with Adam, and it's gonna be a copy, and then all of a sudden it's leaving, and I don't think of that. That's a good warning, but you're right.
It would be, why are you telling me this?
Right, precisely. So that's important fact number one that's related to this.
The important fact number two is, let's say you move something from your Dropbox Google Drive hierarchy over to your desktop.

[40:36] Perfectly reasonable move, right? But what happens to the file in Dropbox?
Well, it's gone, isn't it?
Precisely. So, on your Mac, it moves from really library class slash cloud storage slash Dropbox onto your desktop. No problem. You've still got the file. But in the Dropbox view of the universe, that file has just been deleted and is now in the Dropbox, what did I forget what they call it?
30-day deleted something. 30-day, right, precisely, trash. They all have slightly different names for it. And that is true of all of them in some form or fashion. Because again, once a file has been taken out of their control, from their perspective, it's deleted. And they're not going to just remove it, they put it in usually the 30-day protected thing. So that's good. But it's something you got to be aware of because, I mean, it makes sense, but you still have to think about it, right? Because Because the file is deleted from Dropbox's perspective, but it's still sitting on your desktop for you.
Didn't you say one of them doesn't put it in a 30-day delete folder, though?
No, they all do. There's another, where I was stumbling a little bit, there's another oddity here is, okay.
The things you, the things I do for you. The things I do for you.
Okay. You have an online only file.

[42:01] And it's in Dropbox. And you select it and hit command delete in the finder. What happens to it?

[42:08] So I would have guessed it would go into the finder trash? And you would be wrong!
If it was from Google Drive you would be right. Yeah, right. See, that's the problem. So basically.

[42:25] An offline file is a real file, right? That's no problem.
And so offline files, yes, if you delete one, Dropbox, it will get deleted on the Dropbox cloud and it'll go into their recently deleted folder and it will go into the Mac OS trash.
Oh, it'll go into both. Okay, if it's offline.
Right, it's offline because it exists as a real file on your hard drive and it exists in the cloud too.
But if it's an online only file, and Google Drive does the same thing.
And one thing we haven't mentioned, you can actually tell when anything is online only because it has one of those great little cloud icons next to it in the Finder.
And so if it has all the cloud icons next to it in the file name or in the Finder listing, it's online only.
And so in Google Drive, you move it into the trash and it shows up in the trash with its little cloud icon still.
But Dropbox, for reasons I do not know and probably will never be known to humankind, it just disappears the placeholder.

[43:32] So that online only icon just goes away. It never ends up in the Mac OS trash. Oh.
Oh. Yeah. That's nice. I mean, again, it's not the end of the world.
We're not talking, you know, we're not talking, you know, like, you know, panic in the streets or anything.
But you might want to know.
And to be absolutely fair, all of them warn you about this stuff.
But again, it's those dialogues, like you don't quite understand what they're saying at that moment because you're working on something else, right?
Like, you're not thinking, I need to understand my cloud storage service right now.
You're thinking, I need to get the PDF done so I can hand it in by two o'clock, you know?
Right, right, right, right. So would the bottom line be, pay attention?

[44:20] I think for a while, you get what your service is doing. Yeah, pay attention.
Would perhaps not even that much more just like file this away as something to niggle at you if something ever is weird. Okay, like if I had read this beforehand or had this conversation, I would have gone, hey, remember that thing Adam talked about? I wonder if that's involved here.
Precisely. I really don't expect people to remember this whole article. It's way too finicky and detailed and stuff like that. You shouldn't have to. No one should have to.
But it's good to read through the finicky details, I think, to say, okay, there's this many weirdnesses, pay attention to weird.
Right, precisely. And I believe strongly in the trigger neuron concept, which is, I don't have to remember something, I just have to like, ooh, there's something.
Let me go check. Like a neuron fired, but I don't know why it fired, but let me go deal with it.
It's when the neurons don't fire that you're just like, well, how should I have known?
No one told me. Now Adam told you. Yeah, precisely.
So would, one last question. When we talked about symlinks, can we delete those with impunity?

[45:30] Yes. So I've got symlinks to a couple of them at my top level, Allison, and I don't want them there. Never wanted them there, and now I can get rid of them.
Yes. But not the one that's a real folder. Right, and do it in the finder.
Yeah, okay. I say that because you don't want to accidentally do an RM in terminal that traverses it.

[45:51] Right? Because it's one of those RM commands that since the early days of Unix has been like, yeah, don't do this. Because you could erase your entire drive, you know, RM desktop.
Not that anybody has ever done that. Bart tells a great story about having done that. And he tells it to new people to say, you're never going to do anything as dumb as what I did.

[46:14] Precisely. So yeah, if you just drag those to the finder, you know. And then again, also if you keep using it, if it were something, like say it were a real folder and you dragged the finder of the trash and you try to use it the finder would yell at you.
Because you'd be trying to open something with the trash and it won't do that.
So that's a nice... I mean, it's like... One thing I...
I mean, I know there's people out there who drag something in the trash and immediately empty, but I really don't recommend that. You like letting it simmer for a little while?
Let it simmer. I mean, you... I let Hazel delete it after a while.
Yeah, yeah. You know, it's like, unless you're low on disk space, I'm just like, yeah, whatever, I'll get to you sometime.
I just every once in a while go, whoa, eight gigabytes. I better, I could probably get rid of that now.
All unnecessary. Well, this has been fantastic, Adam. I definitely would like to plan some more talks.
We're definitely gonna talk about clean installs. Oh man, I can't compete on this topic because you knew so much more, but I might be able to hold my own chat in clean installs.
I'll send you my latest articles.

[47:21] I read your articles. Do you? Oh, look at you.
I signed up for them and my the RSI of an RSS to email service that sends me stuff.
They look like something fun. Very cool. Very cool.
So if people want to follow you online other than going to, is there a let's see a mastodon link?
There is a mastodon link which let me think, let me think at Adam angst at Cool.
One of the standards. I haven't quite figured out how to relate a mastodon handle efficiently yet.
But I'm actually animangst basically everywhere.
There is another animangst, but I feel a little sorry for him because I was there first.
I'm older than he is. Oh, well, poor guy. Okay. Well, this has been great.
Thank you so much for coming on. I really, really enjoyed it.
You're very welcome. I had a great time too.
I hope you enjoyed this episode of Chit Chat Across the Pondlight.
Maya had a great time too.

[48:17] I hope you enjoyed this episode of Chit Chat Across the Pond Light.
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[49:00] Another way to contribute is to record a listener contribution.
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[49:16] Music.