OneDrive Data Dump, Part 2: Photos

OneDrive Data Dump, Part 2: Photos

A more positive experience

So things are looking up. As you may recall, I've started testing what it's like to push my archival data into OneDrive, and after starting with videos I've moved on to the types of files—documents, photos and music—that will be the more likely choice of most users. And on that note, my full photo archive upload has gone well, and I have an update to the previous post about videos as well.

Microsoft's decision to offer unlimited OneDrive storage to Office 365 subscribers will have ripple effects we'll be dealing with and trying to understand for months and maybe even years to come. For now it's at least clear that the availability of unlimited storage—from a provider everyone trusts, from a service that is available everywhere—changes everything. And I expect that my experiences this week will shape an evolved understanding of backup strategies and more.

It's a complex topic. But first steps first. As you may recall from So What's It Like Pushing All Your Data Into OneDrive, I pushed almost 40 GB worth of videos into OneDrive the other day to see how the service handled very large files. The answer—slowly—should come as no surprise as many of these videos are about 2 GB big and one, a full concert video, is 4 GB.

But I reported that I couldn't get the videos to play from the web. This is incorrect: I can't get the videos to play in Internet Explorer on my PC. But when I try with Chrome on a PC or device, the videos play just fine. I even tested the 1080p concert rip on that little HP Stream 11 and after a brief pause, it came right up and played reliably (with the video and audio in sync). It looked and sounded great.

I don't know why IE can't handle the videos, but I decided to see what the experience would be like on phones. Navigating to that same concert video in the OneDrive app on my iPhone 6 Plus, I hit Play and it just worked. I can scrub the video, whatever. The quality of the picture is a bit rough, and I would never want to stream this on my very limited data plan. But it works.

There is the matter of file name extensions. You may also recall that video files with an .mp4 extension display thumbnails—in OneDrive on the web and in the OneDrive apps—but that those with an .mp4v extension, which is common in Apple-land—do not display a thumbnail and will not play at all. If you're at all familiar with DVD ripping (and Handbrake in particular), you may already know the solution: Just rename those files to have .mp4 extensions. When you do, they work normally.

But, there's a problem. You can't rename the extension the web; OneDrive only lets you rename the file name sans extension. I did so using the command line in Windows.

And instead of triggering a re-sync, it was ready to go almost immediately: I refreshed the web page (in Chrome), the thumbnail appeared, and the video would play. So I renamed the rest of the .mp4v files to .mp4 and will do that before syncing when I get back to video uploads later.

OK, on to photos.

I have a lot of them, most digital from the early 2000s on and a steadily growing collection of pre-2000 paper photo scans. On my home server, the actual photo collection is about 110 GB, and I've got an additional 167 GB or so in older home movies (8mm, etc.) and other pictures. So I started with the photo collection, which was divided into batches of newer folders (year 2000 to present) and older folders (Favorites, Old pictures and so on) of photos. I copied these over to the OneDrive folder on my PC and let nature take its course, so to speak.

That started at approximately 11:30 am yesterday. As I write this now, at 9:30 am the following day (which is really 23 hours later due to the daylight savings change), OneDrive still has 30 GB of files to sync. So the full 110 GB photo collection copy and sync will take over a day, possibly a day and a half. Part of that is no doubt Comcast's sucktastic upload speeds. Part of is no doubt some form of OneDrive throttling. But whatever: Getting an entire life's worth of photos from here to there in a day or two is perfectly acceptable.

And now that they're up there, they're accessible from everywhere. And that's really the point, isn't it?

The Penton part of my document archive, dating back to the mid-1990s, is 169 GB. And that's next.

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