I finally managed to say to goodbye to Dropbox, and am now ready to figure out what is next.
Do I still need storage?
I’ve never had a hard drive die on me in all my years of owning computers. (Hm. Is that true? It’s very possible I’ve forgotten, because it was long ago and because I did have backup, making the experience completely unmemorable.) When I think about what would happen if this laptop disappeared or failed on me right now, it strikes me that the consequences don’t seem quite as dramatic as earlier years. I would loose a lot of files that matter to me, but not everything. My password vault and markdown files are synced and backed up in iCloud, all my most important work is now code on GitHub (which is a very different scenario compared to the importance of work in progress and client files in jobs I had before). I use Things with their cloud sync service. All recent years of photos are also on my phone.
Not sure I’ve ever thought about this in relation to backup before; that more and more of my digital life is backed up in a multitude of services — compared to my first computers, where almost everything was stored solely on their hard drives. But either way, I am convinced that storing files somewhere other than only this laptop is a worthwhile insurance for the kind of accidents that can happen to a laptop.
I trust Proton
Proton is a technology company building products with privacy as default. I signed up for my Proton Mail account in 2017, and have been super happy with the product, web app and iOS app. It’s been fun to see them launch more products. So far, I have only used Proton VPN, but I have intentions of migrating to the new password manager Proton Pass. Their cloud storage has been under development for a couple of years, and less than two months ago, the Proton Drive macOS app was released.
The end-to-end encryption, the Swiss privacy laws and how all their apps are open source — this is all fantastic 🥇. But also, and honestly this is the most essential in how I choose which companies to rely on; I trust Proton to successfully build strong digital products that are great to use.
Take my money!
My current plan is Mail Plus at 47.88 € for 12 months. With this subscription I already have Proton Drive, but only 15 GB. I am ready for Proton Unlimited at 119.88 € for 12 months, giving me 500 GB total storage across all products. The upgrade was super smooth, automatically giving me credit on the payment for the unused portion of my previous plan that had 8 months left.
Setting up and moving in
Installing the macOS app was a breeze, and so far it seems great. Simple and minimal, which is exactly what I wanted and expected. The icon in the menu bar shows a badge for syncing 🔄 or synced ✅. Initially, I thought that “I probably should” finish setting up new cloud storage before quitting Dropbox. But I ended up taking my chances on some days without backup, and now I have the luxury of moving my stuff in steps, tidy up a bit and create a new file structure. This also means I get to incrementally test how Proton Drive works, without trying to move all my 150 GB in one go.
I’ve seen two types of minor hiccups. When I moved a directory over and then immediately started renaming and moving files around, I got some sync errors that were logged. But the files were then synced later, so it was just a notification. I’ve also seen a couple of files duplicated. The originally named file was empty, and then the version of the file that had succeeded in syncing had a longer file name that included ‘Name Clash’. Easily enough spotted and fixed.
So, are upload speeds fast? Ha! Not at all! But there’s a reason for it taking time:
Unlike iCloud, which does not offer end-to-end encryption by default for files and folders, Proton Drive uses end-to-end encryption for all your data across all devices. File encryption happens automatically on your device before uploading to the cloud. That means nobody — not even Proton — can see your files’ contents. End-to-end encryption is also used for all metadata, such as file names and modified date.
I have no idea if this will bug me. But for now, it gives me another reason to move in slowly and actually look at my stuff in the process.