Put That OneDrive Space To Use: Move Music Collection to the Cloud and Stream It

With online storage costs dropping rapidly, it makes sense to move music collection to the cloud. I moved mine to OneDrive and realized I can stream music!

Put That OneDrive Space To Use: Move Music Collection to the Cloud and Stream It

OneDrive Increases Free Storage and Office 365 Gets 1TB Free

OneDrive announces a new free tier of 15GB, reduces prices for storage purchase and increases storage included with Office 365 to 1TB.

OneDrive Increases Free Storage and Office 365 Gets 1TB Free

OneDrive for Business Now Offers 1TB per User

Microsoft announced several updates to OneDrive for Business including storage bump to 1TB per user. It is a serious contender for businesses of any size.

OneDrive for Business Now Offers 1TB per User

Backing up

Just read this post on Medium about backing up your data and I thought the setup was very similar to mine, so I felt like writing one to talk about my own.

My setup consists of:

An HP Proliant Microserver N36L which is a fantastic form factor for this purpose. Over time, I did add a graphics card to it so that I can get HDMI out to connect it to an external monitor for those times when I need to upgrade something that I cannot do over remote desktop, like when I moved from Windows Home Server 2011 to Windows 8 and then to Windows 8.1

The server is also great because in that compact form factor, it still allows for 4 hard drives. I had bought two 1TB hard drives and had let Windows Home Server run them in mirror mode. After I moved to Windows 8, I manually implemented that feature via File History. Not technically the same, but works for me in terms of keeping a copy of my data on a second hard drive in case it fails. Windows 8 also provides me the capability to restore to factory settings or to restore to a pre-determined point, in case I need to.

Since I have enough space on my hard drives, I haven’t deployed my other USB drives. Also, since this setup is in our closet, I also don’t want my wife to one day throw it all out of there 🙂 It would be nice to use Storage Spaces and make use of all my USB drives as a single shared pool of storage. After all, the server does provide a ton of USB ports on front and back.

I do not need VNC because I use the excellent Remote Desktop which now is available on iOS (and Mac and Android too but at this time I don’t have those devices).

Instead of Dropbox, I use SkyDrive for all types of file sync from and to multiple devices. Like Remote Desktop, the SkyDrive app exists on all the devices I use, and works quite well for me. In addition, on my home network, I have set up a HomeGroup and in Windows, I have set up all Libraries to point to the server’s respective locations (Documents, Photos, Music, Videos, etc.) and made that the default save location. That way, the need to sync is reduced when I am on the home network. Pictures from phones are backed up to SkyDrive from my iPhone as well as my Lumia automatically and show up on the server because of the SkyDrive app.

Finally, the best part: Crashplan automatic cloud backup running on the server, which is set to never sleep. In this way, I have multiple versions of all the files on the server, always backing up automatically to the cloud. I have been able to restore my backed up files on different PCs as and when I have needed to. It does not provide bare metal restore but I don’t need it because of the excellent Reset/Refresh features introduced in Windows 8. In fact, if I wanted to, I could even use Crashplan to do USB backups (it uses multiple “destinations” so cloud is the only destination I am using currently but there is no extra cost to add local USB as a destination).

One issue I have noticed and it comes as a result of using the server not just as a backup machine but also as a media server, is that videos take a long time to stream to tablets or TV. I suspect it is because the processor is quite old and slow and it is the server that is doing the CPU-intensive stuff so it ends up choking a bit. I also suspect the hard drives are a bottleneck as well in such cases. I don’t think I want to invest much into this setup at this point but I would love to see a modern version of this form factor. I haven’t found it yet. Most of the small form factor cases today skip the hard drive expansion slots and as a result make me afraid of losing the low-cost, big-sized storage capacity.

But that’s a separate story. I am just happy I have been able to get to a point where I don’t have to worry about losing my digital memories as well as important papers and hard work from my past several years. Huge thanks to Crashplan for making this happen via their inexpensive and unlimited backup service.

Cloud-based services for the win

Two things happened recently which delighted me and I thank cloud-based services (vs. locally installed apps/applications) for that.

When Office Web Apps Preview released recently, I noticed that they were talking about Excel Web App supporting the creation of Forms, but in the preview I did not see that functionality. I was really looking forward to using it because that was one thing I liked with Google Spreadsheets and wanted to see it in Excel Web App. However, last week as I was playing around with Excel Web App, I saw the “Form” entry in the Insert tab! It was greyed out but it was there and I did not even know it. No announcement, no updates to make, just there. Nice.

This morning, when I went to share an article I was reading using the Bitmarklet from bitly, I noticed that they had updated the UI for the same. Whereas earlier there was too much “noise” on the screens within that Bitmarklet window, now it was streamlined and looked much cleaner. Again, I had to do nothing to receive the updated functionality.

Granted, not everyone is comfortable getting stuff updated without their knowing, and granted sometimes functionality could be removed as opposed to added, but still, having a constantly updated “app” in the cloud/on the web is a thing of beauty. I have a feeling the next version of Office is going down that route with the Office 365 subscription and I may be one of the customers willing to pay a small fee for getting seamless updates for my software.