The cloud is an interesting place. Organizations can run their businesses there, people can store photos and music and files of all sizes there. To help manage the files stored in the cloud, there are options from the cloud providers to allow access to files stored there. While cloud storage is affordable, many general consumers use the complimentary storage amounts from several different providers. While free storage is great, and Microsoft has dropped the unlimited free OneDrive storage, there are likely many using cloud storage from Amazon, Microsoft, Google, among others. While these are useful, they each come with their own client application. While they work, a single client might be a solid alternative.
Enter Cloudberry Labs
Cloudberry Labs has developed Cloudberry Drive, a cross cloud storage client that will allow users to map drives to their local systems from online storage accounts. Being able to map drives to all of the storage accounts available is a huge feature set but doing that without having to load a client for each one… perfect.
Once the product is installed, you will be asked to restart because the application interacts as a file system driver with Windows, other than that there are no hurdles to installation that I saw. From there, it’s all about adding clouds.
Adding Cloud Storage Accounts
From the options dialog for the application, click the Add button to get started. For the purposes of this review, I will be using a Microsoft Azure storage account to configure the application.
The Cloudberry Drive application runs in the background when first installed (you’ll find it waiting in the system tray), right click it and select Options (or double click the icon) to open the options dialog (shown below in figure A)
Initially, the options dialog is empty as nothing has been added, simply click the add button to choose a storage account to connect. On the next dialog, you need to choose the cloud provider and give the application some information about the storage account it should use. I selected Azure from the list of available providers, then provided the storage account name and key. These values exist inside of Azure and act as a unique value pair for identifying storage accounts. The Storage account is created to store information from within the Azure portal and must be unique. Once this account gets created, a key will be created for access. These are the values used here. You will not need to provide your Azure login credentials to use this service – the account/key pair provides this authentication.
Once entered, click the test connection button to make sure that things are working as needed. This dialog is shown in figure B.
With your information entered and the account connected you are almost set. You will need to provide the path to a storage container within the account and a drive letter (although the next available one is filled in by default). The storage container is similar to a folder in a traditional file system. If this does not exist, you will need to login to your Azure account and access the storage account to add one. Without this, you cannot add any data to the service and Cloudberry Drive will not find anything to connect to.
Once a container is selected, the application will be able to add a drive mapping to the computer. In addition you can mount the disk as a network drive or as a removable drive. Since the storage itself is accessible as long as there is an Internet connection, the network mapping is recommended. When OK is clicked, you will be asked if you want to map this connection as the drive previously specified, clicking yes will add the drive to File Explorer with the chosen letter. That’s about all there is to adding a cloud service to your computer as a mapped drive.
From the remaining tabs in the Cloudberry Drive interface you can add other storage accounts and disks to your computer and monitor logging for the connections you have created. The real interesting features within the product are more about filtering than about connection:
Bandwidth – the bandwidth tab allows you to specify the amount of bandwidth Cloudberry Drive should use when connecting to cloud services. Unlimited is the default, but you can select a limited bandwidth if you are on a metered connection.
Upload Rules – Cloudberry Drive can specify rules based on HTTP header information that will limit storage of matching information or disallow certain types of data from being stored in the cloud. This can be useful if you wish to have certain information expire after a specific date. The rules can apply to all containers, specific containers, or even skip certain file types. If you have data that you wish to share for only a certain time, this might be very helpful in getting that to happen.
Encryption – these settings will configure encryption of all items that the Cloudberry Drive application sends to the cloud. If your information is sensitive, this may be an option worth considering. If you do use the encryption options, please be sure to store the password used for encryption in a safe place as it is not accessible to anyone outside of the system where it was created.
This review was certainly not an exhaustive review of the Cloudberry Drive product as the use cases for most are to make cloud storage more accessible for those who need it. I think this application does that very well, and while there are some advanced features or additional features available, the core idea of mapping drives to cloud storage accounts gets the job done for most.
One thing I wish were possible is the use of consumer storage services like Dropbox and Onedrive from within the Cloudberry Drive application to allow one application to manage all of the clouds I use… maybe in a future release. Overall this is a great way to connect to multiple clouds and integrate them into your normal workflow.
What cloud management tools do you use and would a product like this be useful to you? Let us know in the comments.