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Insync, the Google Drive client for Linux

posted Oct 7, 2016, 12:32 PM by Nathan Wolf   [ updated Oct 8, 2016, 8:48 AM ]
Google Drive is a free or paid for service from Google to back up data from your computer to a remote server often referred to as "the cloud". The term "cloud" actually annoys me, it is merely a marketing term for referring to the client-server relationship, but alas, it is just how the masses refer to such things...

Google has promised for years to offer a client to do the automatic synchronizing but has yet to deliver. Thankfully, there are several answers that the community has provided, some free, some for pay and this one in particular that I have been using for about 4 years now and I have been quite pleased.

There are many that use Linux that believe that everything should be free and open source. Although, I think that is ideal and possibly be best for users, I still think there is room for closed source proprietary projects. I have no problem paying for software so long as I think it is worth it and I believe that if Linux users don't financially support the projects out there that are not free, that will discourage future development. Not all but some. I also want to help financially support those that actively develop for Linux Desktop.

I started using Insync when it was free, in beta stages, and when it went to a payed for use, project, I wanted to continue to financially support it. It is a one-time pay per Google account and I am more than happy to financially contribute to it. I like the features, the customer service and the fact that they create a nicely integrated product.

Installation

There isn't an RPM package implicitly for openSUSE to download on the website but that is not a problem. Depending on which version of openSUSE you are running will determine which of the Installers to use that are available for download.

With a little effort I have determined that openSUSE Leap 42.1 is the Fedora 64-bit rpm (17-20) and openSUSE Leap 42.2 will use the Fedora 64-bit rpm (21+). There is a library issue with 42.1 and the "21+" package. Unfortunately, there is not a way to auto update from repository so you will have to return to the site from time to time to get the latest version for upgrade.

Memory Usage

I was initially suspicious of how much memory was being utilized by the application but it is surprisingly less than what I was expecting. Processor usage never seems to be an issue either. On start-up of the program, it does use some resources as it scans the file system for changes but is not a long process even with the contents of my file system.

Selective Sync

This is not an exclusive feature by any means, the Google Drive application works just just about the same but I just happen to like the interface much better with Insync. The tree view is much more familiar and comfortable for me to navigate and understand then what is offered on the Google Drive client.

I also really appreciate the My Drive and the Shared With Me segregation of files. It makes it easy to determine what is shared with you at a quick glance.

I also appreciate the fact that the color scheme and layout of this application fits my preference as well.

Ignore List

If you have certain files or file types that you want to ignore within your sink tree, you have the option to do so by using the traditional glob syntax in which you can set patterns by specifying sets of filenames or file types with wildcard characters.  For example, if you want to set a rule on all svg files you would enter *.svg than specify whether not to download or upload or not download and upload.

Convert

Convert Google Office documents to Microsoft Office or OpenDocument format. If you do not convert them, Google Office documents will not be stored locally, they will be a link to the location on the drive. Should you want to open up a Google Office document, Insync has a "helper" application that will launch a browser (of your choice) to access / edit the document.

Synchronization feed

I really appreciate the look and verbosity of the synchronization feed.  The integration in the desktop is also real nice as when you click on the file name or on the magnifying glass it will open the file within the file manager.

If the file is a Google drive document, sheet or presentation, it will open it up using a browser of your choice. I currently use Firefox mostly because it is interestingly more memory conscious than Chrome.

The synchronization progress screen is very verbose, you can watch the progress of files it is working on synchronizing. I haven't observed more then two or three files being synchronized at a time and since I never seem to have issues with the software, I don't often look at it unless I am transferring some larger files.

If you get an incoming share from a fellow Google Drive user, the system tray icon will notify you or if there are any actions requiring your intervention, there will also be notification for that.

The most common interaction you will have, after you set up the application, will likely be errors that happen from time to time. Not a big deal, usually, just selecting "retry" will remedy the error. The errors I have encountered have all been some sort of network timeout and I have not yet observed any data loss.

Another real nice tool is the Stats tool. Shows a nice breakdown of the status of your storage. If you don't pay attention, a lot of your storage will be taken up by what is in the Trash. I have found that my Gmail / Google+ hardly uses up any of my storage. Do I need this information? Maybe but I find it real handy and I'm glad to have it.

Tech help

I've used the technical help once, but not really for technical help, exactly. My issue was specifically with the available binaries and that openSUSE isn't implicitly listed.

Assessment of Reliability

I have literally had no issues with reliability under normal operating situations. The only issue I had was with one of my computers that was shut down for several months and when I brought it back online, the file structure had significantly diverged enough so that when it synced up, it made a lot of duplicate files. I didn't lose any files, just had some repeat old files. At the very worse, this is just a special case annoyance.

Cost and Value of Purchase

There are 3 options to purchase the product. For my needs the Insync Plus For Consumers works best for me. It's a $25 one-time payment and the license is linked with the Google Account of your choosing. I have no buyer's remorse for this purchase. I have been using it for nearly 4 years regularly on more than one machine. The cost is minimal and I find this to be a great value. More information on options and pricing here.

Conclusion

I have tried a few sync clients for Google Drive, this one has been my go-to client, they actively support Linux, I like the quality well polished commercial feel of this product. It works for Linux, Windows and Mac and if they are supporting Windows and Mac any more than Linux, I can't tell. You can also try it for free for 15 days to see it if it works for you.

For those that want only free software, this is not for you. If you don't mind shelling out a few dollars for a quality product, than this may work just fine for you.

For more information, visit the Insync site here:
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