RT Cunningham

Blogging For As Long As I'm Able

My Google Drive Alternative

Tagged with cinnamon, google, laptop computer, linux, nemo, overgrive, raspberry pi, rsync, ssh, vnc on April 13, 2024

Google Drive Alternative I’ve used Google Drive for years. First with Windows and then with Linux. There is no official client for Linux, so I’ve been using overGrive (which I no longer need). Syncing to Google Drive is slow, regardless of what client’s being used. Thinking about how I can reduce my reliance on Google led me to a realization: I already own what I need to eliminate my need for Google Drive completely.

Replacing Google Drive

Since I own more than one computer and the other one, a Raspberry Pi 400 (“Pi” for short), is going to be used for a remote connection anyway, I can use it for other things as well. I can do everything I need to do with SSH, rsync and Nemo, which is the file manager for Linux Mint Cinnamon. There are other options available, such as WebDAV and SSHFS, but both of those are overkill for what I require.

If you’re interested in WebDAV, check out “How to create a webdav server with Nginx”. If you’re interested in SSHFS, check out “How To Use SSHFS to Mount Remote File Systems Over SSH”. When I had my website hosted at DigitalOcean and then Linode, I used both of them to transfer files back and forth from the server. SSHFS was more reliable.

I’m using a 120 gigabyte SSD with the Pi instead of the micro SD card that came with it. The operating system, without a bunch of recommended applications, takes up less than 20 gigabytes. The basic upgrade from Google Drive to Google One would cost me $1.99 a month or $19.99 a year for 100 gigabytes. I already have 100 gigabytes free, and I don’t even need that much.

Computer Security

Being paranoid about computer security is a good thing. There are plenty of hackers out there targeting any system they can, sometimes just for fun. Making sure any windows of opportunity are as small as possible is another good thing.

Convenience is overrated. I have a VNC server set up on the Pi. To reduce the attack surface, the service is disabled and has to be started manually. I have to connect by SSH to start it when I want to use it. With the SSH connection still open, I stop the VNC server when I no longer need it. If the VNC server isn’t listening, I don’t have to worry about miscreants trying to guess usernames and passwords.

Using Rsync to Back Up Directories

I only have one directory to back up regularly, and it’s my “Documents” directory, along with its subdirectories. That’s where I store all the files and PHP scripts pertaining to this blog, along with anything else of significance. It’s not a lot, really. The last time I deployed my “deploy” folder to Cloudflare, it came out to less than eight megabytes. Altogether, I think I’m backing up around 60 megabytes, a very tiny percentage of what I have available.

If I need to retrieve one or more files from the other computer, I rely on the Nemo file manager. I can connect by SSH with it and then copy files from the remote computer to the local computer. There are other ways, I know, but at my age, I really don’t need to learn more.

A Revised Timeline

I was going to leave everything alone until I got ready to leave for the United States next year, but I really need to put what I own to good use. The Pi is sitting next to my laptop computer in the master bedroom, and it’s only there because we have too many visitors coming to visit in the next few months. When the last one leaves, I’ll move it to the third bedroom, where it belongs near the router.

I now leave it on, headless (without the mouse or the computer monitor connected). I’ve moved everything that was being synced to Google Drive to my “Document” directory. Rsync is now backing those files to the Pi. This is the terminal command:

rsync -avzh -e ssh /home/localusername/Documents/ [email protected]:/home/remoteusername/laptop_backups/ > /home/localusername/rsync.log 2>&1

I’m no longer using Google Drive for anything on my laptop computer. My phone, well, that’s a different story and something I may need to work on.

Image by Kes├Ąperuna, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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