Friday, 29 January 2016

Cloud woes again

After preparing a sermon for Sunday and working on an office document at home, I went into town mid afternoon for a short spell this afternoon, but it turned into a longer spell than intended, as we realised that Julie's HP All in one PC 'admin central' hadn't synced with MS OneDrive for the past three weeks. It's now the third time this has happened since the the machine was upgraded from Windows 7 to 10 at the end of September last. We discovered this because Julie couldn't find some template documents I had prepared at home a few weeks ago. They were there in the Cloud, but not on her machine as they should have been.

As Julie's worked almost exclusively on issuing invoices in the past three weeks, all I had to do was copy the missing files to a flash drive, and upload them to OneDrive form another machine, then Julie could continue working uninterrupted. For me, it gave an impressive reminder of how productive she's been recently. I completed the missing template task after Julie had finished work for the day and didn't get home until well after eight.

Thank goodness we haven't given up using a network drive and flash drive to back up all that we also keep into the Cloud. Frankly, I wonder if this new way of working is ever going to be quite as good as office back up hardware system under our exclusive control. Mobile computing is great for anyone who works at different locations. In our outfit, I'm the only one that does. Before Windows 10 and OneDrive file system sync by default, we kept files in the Cloud, accessed them from a browser, and/or emailed documents being worked on, admittedly struggling some times to maintain version control. Moving from there to the new status quo seems not a big step, but three sync breakdowns in six months without an obvious reason, using reliable hardware and internet services is ominous.

Trouble shooting to find out exactly how the sync mechanism aborts could take a long time, and might not be possible in the limited hours I have available to spend in the office from Monday to Wednesday, to do the job while she's not at work. Julie's machine's been in use two years and four months. It was solidly reliable syncing to OneDrive under Windows 7, but now no longer. It's the one machine which does need to be completely reliably up to date in every respect.

It's time to get a new PC and set it up, make sure it syncs correctly, before next Thursday so as not to interrupt Julie's workflow. Then, if syncing proves unreliable on an all-new machine, we simply revert to the way we used to do things, restrict our file system to office hardware, and back up to the Cloud just once a week. And maybe ditch OneDrive for Google Drive storage. It's not slick and perfectly safe, but better controllable and safe than sorry.

Our company accountant works on what seems to me like an insanely fast depreciation rate for office electronic equipment, and regularly expects us to include a sum for replacements in our annual budget. So far I've avoided replacing equipment unless its really dead. Older kit has not necessarily proved to be much slower in action for normal office tasks, thanks to our increased use of on-line resources and a faster office internet connection. As with one's car, reliability is the most decisive criterion, not glitz or speed.

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