I was going to include this write up in my previous post, How Many Hours Wasted This Week? Well, the thing is, I re-read that post and realized I didn’t include the wasted time I really wanted to write about. I only got to the point of figuring out the setup was gonna start heading towards $50,000 or so just to set up. I changed the post to “Microsoft’s High Cost of Free.
I had a couple of different times where I needed immediate access to information that was only on my work station. In my office. Across town. So I decided to look at One Drive. I didn’t want to use Google Drive – I don’t like mixing personal and business uses on the same service or the same account. I know, people browse Ebay, Facebook and Craigslist from work all the time. While I may not be perfect about my internet use while on the clock, I prefer at least some separation. Yes, I check work email on my phone outside work hours. I rarely respond unless the email seems to need an immediate response. Plus, typing email on a phone…
So I clicked on the One Drive icon already on my computer. It would not recognize my account and/or password. I fought with the damned thing for at least an hour. Since we use the 365 service I tried to download it from the 365 Dashboard (who the hell came up with the name Dashboard? It’s used everywhere and I hate it. Everywhere.) The result of that attempt (failed, by the way) is that I get a message telling me that it’s incompatible with Office when loaded to my computer from disk. Are you kidding me? Because I bought a disk – well the district has the disk image for our use – I can’t use the version that downloads and installs on my local computer?
After fighting this for at least an hour, I called our tech people. Apparently, the version we used was not the personal version of One Drive but the business version. OK, we’re “paying” for it so that’s appropriate. And I broke it because I’m supposed to just know how it installs and runs and that there are at least three different, yet completely incompatible versions. And the error is something along the lines of: The server has an incompatible login protocol and just doesn’t work with your client. I paraphrased of course. Another hour goes by on the phone with tech support – has anyone noticed that I’m not a plebe? I had to remove One Drive from my Office install, reboot, add One Drive back to my office install via the control panel and the Office modify installation settings. Oh, reboot again. Now, go back to Office 365 online, go to One Drive and click on sync files. This will restart the process of downloading files you have previously uploaded. Otherwise you end up with an empty folder where you put files to share/sync.
The files I wanted to share have to do with tracking outside charters when I have to book buses with charter companies instead of ourselves. I was tracking it via spreadsheets (poor man’s database) with links in the cells to the charter agreement. You know, click the link with the charter or invoice number and the underlying document opens. It worked pretty well unless I was not at my desk. I needed a way to access the same, synced files from my work laptop as well. This is what all the online “drives” claim to do. So I moved my spreadsheet and the folders with all the charter orders and invoices. I created some symbolic links from where I used to keep them to where they now reside. One annoying thing I discovered is that Microsoft messes up my links. If I create a link to, say, invoice 1 that resides in a folder called invoices with a path like invoices/1.pdf Excel changes it to point to the One Drive folder and now the link is <sharepoint/username/invoices/1.pdf> and it doesn’t work until the sync occurs. (Thanks Microsoft! That’s so stupid. If I wanted an absolute link I would have used one. Relative links work everywhere else, but you know better than I do how I want to do things.) Well, it’s also kind of creepy that I don’t have control over this admittedly little thing – what else did they remove from my control?
So I’m happily – defined by the restrictions and forced changes by MS -sharing these files and folders between my desktop, laptop and accessing them online as needed (not that I really like O365, but it’s there) And then, O365 required an password update when I logged in for email. I dutifully updated my email password, the same password for everything in the O365 environment. This broke One Drive on my desktop. I had to go through Windows Credential manager (or whatever it’s called) and remove the saved password credential for One Drive. This takes a half hour or more to finally resync passwords and allow me back in. Then the laptop requires the same thing. Jump forward to last week. I noticed there were files showing they were pending being synced on the laptop. I could not get them to sync. An hour worth of work – I eventually deleted the folders from the laptop, uninstalled One Drive, rebooted, installed One Drive, rebooted and then did that again. I had to log into O365 from the laptop and do the whole damn process over again to sync all those files back to my laptop. It makes one wonder what Microsoft’s goal is by making this a total cluster bomb. Are they trying to get people to stop using desktop clients? That’s not the business world – the cloud is not everything, OK? I mean what happens in the cloud when it rains? I still use a desktop client for Outlook/Exchange because it works. I don’t have to upload a spreadsheet or csv file that I use for email merge to O365, in fact I don’t wanna.
One Drive – so far it hasn’t actually saved me any time. I think it can, but it’s cost me well over a day futzing around with settings and passwords and whatever the hell else so that someday I may be able to save some time and answer a question quickly.
How much of your life has Microsoft cost you?