Indexing and Searching Multiple Cloud Storage Services Across Different Platforms

Cloud storage services have become an integral part of nearly everyone’s digital filing system. It’s great to be able to access your documents anytime and anywhere, while also having a back up in case your hardware fails. With the proliferation of cloud storages services many people will use a host of them, whether it is Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive or Evernote. As a result it has become increasingly difficult to organise your files across these systems.

Personally, I have been using Dropbox longest and use it to store work, study and personal documents. I started using Google Drive when it was still called Google Docs, as it allowed multiple people to work on the same document. A couple of months ago I started using Evernote, as it great for making notes and clipping bits of online information for later use. Because of these multiple systems, I often find myself wondering where I saved what.

So I had an epiphany this week. What if there was an application that would allow you to search all of the cloud storage services you are using? Surely someone must have already created something like that? I took to Google and didn’t find an immediate stand-out, although there were a couple of contenders: Cloudmagic, Octonius, Doo and iDocument.

First Cloudmagic. It got OK reviews and so I went to take it for a test drive. I grew suspicious though when I only noticed icons for email services on their website. After some more searching it turned out they ceased their cloud searching feature that day (!). According to the post: “[Their] usage logs suggested that 80% of our users were using CloudMagic solely to search their mailboxes.”  Hence they moved to searching email services only.

Then I found Octonius, which makes Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive searchable from your iPhone. Although it supports the services I use, Octonius does not have a desktop client. I consider this to be indispensable for serious cloud storage searching, as you don’t want to use your iPhone every time you want to perform a cloud search. Hence I decided against its use. Octonius launched only recently though, so hopefully there are more developments and improvements to come.

Doo has an awkward name but an absolutely stunning design and syncs multiple cloud services across multiple platforms. Why wasn’t this the number one listed search result? It’s exactly what I am looking for and it looks stunning! There were a few downsides however, mainly the search results not showing all relevant documents, despite using a very obvious keyword. Although this defeats the purpose of the app, I am sure Doo could have resolved these issues. Unfortunately, only three days (!) after the Cloudmagic service shutting down, Doo announced it will be suspending its services as well: “After launching all these apps, delivering our core feature set and continuously improving on performance and stability, we still couldn’t generate the necessary growth and user activity. We had to face it. Either our hypotheses were wrong or we didn’t get the product right to address the problem. We simply do not seem to address the needs of a large enough audience.”

Lastly I found iDocument, which unlike the above platforms is a paid service. While searching for reviews the difference between iDocument 2 and iDocument Plus did not become sufficiently clear to me, which was off-putting. Evernote is not supported by iDocument either, which combined with its pricing, meant that this isn’t the platform I am searching for either.

Summarising: the two platforms with the most potential, Cloudmagic and Doo, pulled the plug on their services, while Octonius and iDocument don’t quite cut it yet. In their reasons for calling it quits, Cloudmagic mention that users either didn’t search cloud documents much at all. This is reflected in Doo not being able to generate enough user activity to make continuing their service viable. I find it hard to believe there isn’t more use interest in this, but it is hard to argue with their stats.

After having interviewed many entrepreneurs in Sydney and reading a lot about start-ups, it has become clear to me that ‘failure’ in entrepreneurship is not always a bad thing. It is in this context that we must read the concluding remark by the Doo CEO: “Even though we’ve been chasing the wrong rabbit, we have built outstanding cloud storage, sync and search technologies. Plus, we have great investors, who believe in our team. So there is only one option: we have already started working on new products based on what we’ve learned … we’ll keep you posted!”

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