Alternatives to Regular Cloud Storage

Here's the current state of cloud storage:
  • Apple iCloud:
    • Maximum Storage: 2TB
    • $10/month Good
    • Surprising amount of lock-in from iOS 13 photos curation
    • Horrible functionality for ignoring kinds of files
  • Dropbox:
    • Maximum Storage: 3TB Good
    • Horrible functionality for ignoring kinds of files
    • $16/month
    • Interface tries to take over your machine and upsell
  • Google One:
    • Maximum Storage: 2TB
    • Is from Google
    • $10/month Good
    • Never used, but I’ve heard the macOS story is not great
  • OneDrive
    • Maximum Storage: 1TB
    • $6/month Good
    • Must buy with Office365

Nice rant about the state of cloud providers

I’m not considering any plans for Teams as they require a minimum of 3 people.

At the moment, what I store in iCloud is roughly 40GB of data. But, I worry about eventually reaching the maximum capacity of storage. (Dunno if it’s a rational worry, but it’s there). In part, the reason I store little data in iCloud because of this worry. I’d consider putting a lot of the data I backup on Backblaze in to a cloud as well.

Which brings me to a crazy idea I had.

What about something like Backblaze B2?

B2 is cloud storage for cloud storage providers. Their pricing is usually in the Terabytes. See Wasabi’s default price comparison using 250TB as the example amount used

What if you use MountainDuck or ExpanDrive on macOS and FileBrowser Professional on iOS to treat these like another FileProvider?

Has anyone else had such a crazy idea? And tried it out?

You could theoretically do it. I think you’re in for a world of hurt, though.

First off, without going deep into specifics, some cloud systems are designed for fast access, writing and retrieval (the backend of Dropbox, iCloud and such), others are designed for easy storage and slow retrieval, others are designed for long-term cold storage. (B2 tends to be more of the latter.) You don’t need the same access priority or performance if you solely intend to store things for a backup you might need one day (where you do intermittent restores) than continuous access such as live files. It does not cost the same, either, because the data accesses are prioritised differently. (The aforementioned chart is a little dishonest, since S3 and B2 do not really operate on the same level – B2 is for storage, S3, Azure and others are more “live”).

Also, good luck configuring any of those systems for cloud storage daily use if you’re not already very familiar with how they work. I considered using B2 and/or Amazon Glacier for backing up my Synology. The answer? I’m gonna buy a Mac mini to use as a server and slap the consumer Backblaze on it. It’s going to be way, way simpler.

So, daily use for a cloud storage? Well… good luck with that. :sweat_smile:

iCloud had a 2 Tb plan. Your live files, the ones you need for daily tasks, will never reach that ceiling if you currently have 40 Gb only – or at least, the plans will keep scaling way faster than your needs. (Because they keep scaling every few years, where you get more space at the same price.)


I’d forgotten about the retrieval types. For B2/S3. That’s a very good point. Thanks!

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For typical backup storage Degoo has good 10Tb lifetime offers. One-off $10/Tb. Upload is through desktop browser of mobile app though, so definitely a convenience impact. For cold storage however it works brilliantly.

There is also WD MyCloud drives or similar devices. I have a WD MyCloud and it’s nice to know my data is stored at my house but accessible anywhere I am.

I would not recommend using WD’s privacy or security features, especially for anything cloud-facing. Over the years their drive and cloud products have had numerous security problems which they have been slow to correct (nearly always after someone else finds them for them).

Aside from that they’ve been very slow with updates. MyCloud was not supported on Catalina until late October last year, and even then users had connectivity problems going well into 2020.


I think 2TB of iCloud is your best option.

But just to throw out another option: MacStadium.

Get a Mac mini. Get a 5TB external drive. Now you are your own provider.

You can backup your Mini to Backblaze (or wherever else you want) as another layer of protection.

Secure ShellFish - SSH Terminal and Storage on iOS would allow you to use it in iOS as a file provider.

You could also use Dropbox, iCloud, Hazel, Screens/Jump Desktop, and any other Mac app that you might want to use.

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I think another version of @tjluoma’s idea is to think about another device in between you and the cloud. He proposes a remote mac, but it could also be a NAS device located elsewhere in your dwelling – with its back up being Backblaze B2 or whatever.

In doing so you solve the problem of offsite back up AND the problem of more real-time file availability.

Man, you’re such a downer with your facts (sarcasm).

Are there any home based cloud drives like that you would suggest? I’ll probably be getting rid of my MyCloud drive here soon after reading those articles and taking your advice.

The latest of those articles is from 2018 so maybe they’ve tightened up things, so I wouldn’t throw away the MyCloud, but I’m just uncomfortable trusting my data given their history. If I were looking for an easy, lightweight server I’d probably get a consumer-level Synology NAS. They have affordable 1-bay & 2-bay units starting at $99 (before adding a drive).

Something like the 1-bay DS118 sells for $180 (without drive) and can serve files, transcode video, stream to your TV, back up your devices, etc and uses QuickConnect for easy-peasy secure access over the internet.

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Can you directly connect a Synology drive to your computer to get files off of it? You can’t with a MyCloud drive, unless I missed something.

NAS units are designed to work on a network, not direct-attached, but you can connect by cable by assigning an IP address within your own network. For detailed info Google adhoc ethernet to mac synology, but this article might be helpful.

There are a handful of QNAP models of NAS which offer both network and direct attached storage (DAS), but I’m not familiar with QNAP.

Also, QNAP hasn’t been having a good year, security-wise.

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You can access the shell on the MyCloud drive and lock it down. It’s a pain but doable. I made the same mistake years ago and had to keep it for a bit because I refused to throw it out. Good luck!

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You can do the reverse very easily – store the files you want on the Synology, mount the network drive on the Mac and keep the connection alive via an app like AutoMounter (available on the MAS). In effect, that’s going to do the same thing.

I have most of my data on my synology and back that up through their hyper backup solution to the Synology C2 service. I have 1TB over there and pay $60 for that. I can choose where I store the data and Hyperbackup fully encrypts it before sending it over.

I also have the 2TB icloud plan for the family, and the most important data from that goes to my synology (through Resilio Sync) to be backed up directly to C2.

So, in my case it’s 1 “live” solution: iCloud + 1 “Cold storage” solution: C2.
And since my Synology holds most, if not all of my data, I also have access to that everywhere through the Synology Drive app.

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My 2 cents on the topic.

I use Backblaze, but with the 1 year expiry, because I’ve also lost data and not realised it for 9 months.

I use B2 as well, as an archive (not a backup because I never overwrite). I store a copy of my photos. Guess which data I lost for 9 months. I also store some old podcasts up there.

I also use iCloud, currently 200GB, for my day to day syncing needs (and I have Desktop and Documents there).

I tried both MyCloud and the other one, using my Digital Ocean VPS. Both were a hot mess at the Mac client end. Completely unreliable with anything like large files.

I’ve never been a fan of NAS because my experience (admittedly years ago now) has been that macOS can’t keep a network drive connection to save itself.

And finally, I have WAY too many portable and not-so portable hard drives lying around. No, I don’t even know what’s on some of them.

Correction. When I said MyCloud I was meaning OwnCloud and a similar one. These are open source apps you put on a server.