Could a cloud storage manager really replace your desktop? When looking into cloud storage managers a few weeks ago, I was intrigued by the idea of Jolidrive. It’s one of two products from Jolicloud. The other is JoliOS, the developers’ attempt to provide a free cloud-based operating system that works online and on PCs.
That system is now powering more than 2 million computers worldwide, according to the founders. It features an HTML5 interface, 1,500 free applications, is always up to date and also works offline. Since you can take the web version for a test drive – it works in all major browsers – that’s exactly what I decided to do. Here’s my account of using Jolidrive for a day.
Getting Set Up with Jolidrive
While the difference between the different iterations of Jolidrive remained confusing, the setup was anything but. As you know, I had already added several of the cloud storage services I use Box, Dropbox, Google and OneDrive, Flickr, YouTube, SoundCloud and Pocket to my Jolidrive.
That process was simple, consisting of clicking an icon, putting in credentials and waiting for the cloud operating system to work its magic. I thought the services that were already on my account would provide a good starting point for the trial. But one of the first things I discovered when I logged back in was that it hadn’t kept the status of those files up to date, at least not in Google Drive.
Instead, I had to manually sync these files. Granted, it only took a couple of seconds, but if I were using it as an OS I’d want it to always have the latest files.
Adding New Services
Jolidrive works with a whole bunch of online services, though you have to send a tweet or social media share to unlock some of them. One question I had was about security. You provide your credentials to login to your services, but Jolidrive says it doesn’t store any of them. I wonder, but so far the accounts I’ve added appear to remain secure.
I really liked the way it handled YouTube, making it easier for me to find what I wanted than in the video site’s own web interface. It also made my saved items from Pocket very easy to navigate. With the ability to also get access to my Slideshare account and view everything inline, I could see how this could become a useful one stop shop for media content discovery and searching my online stuff.
However, I found that although Jolidrive handled media files well, any time I wanted to access a text file, it took me to the cloud storage site where the file was stored. This seemed counter intuitive.
Having finished adding my services, it was time to take the web OS for a proper run through. To do that, I needed to go into my account settings and enable applications.
That gave me access to a tablet like interface (even down to the ability to change wallpaper) with a number of built in apps. These included the main social apps, Wikipedia, some other research sources, Office Online, along with the Space Invaders game and more. The collection of apps seemed a bit eclectic, but it was easy to delete irrelevant ones by hovering the mouse over the icon.
At the bottom right of the screen was a little green icon with a plus sign, which took me to the app center. There you can browse more than 1,500 apps sorted by category.
I was easily able to add my favorite news source (BBC News) and to look at some of the available options under the headings of communication, education, games, media, office, publishing, social media, travel and lifestyle, developers, enterprise, graphics, music, productivity, search storage and video, with several choices within each category.
Jolidrive at Work
So how did the OS work in practice? Did it have all the functionality built into the OS? I’ve never used it on a netbook, but the web version proved a bit disappointing. Many of the apps took you to the online or cloud app itself when you clicked the link, making Jolidrive more like a start page.
Now, online research suggests that there are some apps which will work online after you login the first time, and the developers have confirmed that there is a word processing app, Write, which will work natively in the JoliOs system, but this wasn’t clear in my test.
Overall, I I think Jolidrive/JoliOs could work well to give slow netbooks speedy access to cloud services. It also makes a great place to discover cloud apps and create a start page for cloud based services.
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That’s more in keeping with what founder and developer Tariq Kim sees as the future of the service: “With Jolidrive we really want to reinvent the way to access, manage and enjoy your digital life.” So far, so good, though I won’t be changing my PC’s operating system just yet.