Shifting off Cloud Software Services

While I’d dropped Windows long ago, permanently since the nightmare that was “Windows - Where’s my Start menu? 8”, I’ve still had a bunch of things tied up in their software services, thankfully I’m on the tail end of that journey and wanted to put a few thoughts down.

  • Email : has been really great for integration with Linux, as well as mobile devices, I have caldav/carddav working well in Thunderbird, alongside imap. For those based in Europe, it’s a great option. The amount of vendor lockin with MS here was infuriating, from mailbox folders not properly syncing or displaying in 3rd party imap to just plain bad faith for exporting content away from them. Try deleting calendar entries in bulk on the web frontend - you can’t.

  • File Storage : This one’s been shifted off the cloud to a local Synology NAS, with multiple backups as mentioned in a previous post. Plasma handles this beautifully in Dolphin with nfs-tools and UUID mount points in fstab.

  • Photos/Media : Again these are sitting in the NAS, with regular backups. This was a difficult one, - the straw that broke the camels back was OneDrive’s “For You - On This Day” memories bar, - absolutely no way to permanently disable it on the web UI, and none in the app. I can’t put into words how painful it is to have photos of loved ones no longer here, forced into your feed, without your express permission, with no way to say no. It was a situation made worse by an absolutely tone deaf response from their “support” team. Never again, - every last image was stripped and stored locally using Plex for the backend.

  • Password Management : Microsoft Authenticator → Bitwarden, - another great service with web and mobile apps/extensions.

  • Notes : I can’t quite put into words how freaking good Obsidian is… and in comparison to OneNote, once markdown clicks, and you “get” backlinks and brain mapping, how much of a revelation it can be for learning and personal development. For tasks, I honestly think it beats org mode.

The one thing I’m really struggling with is 2FA, if Bitwarden did 2FA, I’d jump right in, but for now, that’s been a blocker for me. The older I get, the more I’ve found that shifting away from vendor lock-in and proprietary formats makes more sense. Do I really need an office suite that updates every few weeks and sends all my data to be analysed for “creative content services”? Probably not… :slight_smile:

The journey continues, and hopefully by the end of the year, I’d expect to be a bit further along this path of taking back control of my own data. I think it’s worth the effort!

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It absolutely does, see here:

It is not part of the free plan, you have to upgrade to premium. It’s only ten bucks per year though (about nineteen cents per week :wink:), which seems very reasonable to me. It comes with other stuff too, like a gig of encrypted file storage, plus more authentication options like Yubikey, etc.

If you are interested in a self-hosted option, the Nextcloud office suite is actually pretty decent. It works right through a browser, like O365 stuff does but of course using your own server. If you have basic needs, like editing docs or some simple spreadsheet stuff it is more than enough. The MS compatibility has gotten pretty good, too; you can install MS fonts and save docs as .docx and stuff if needed.

You are trying to move away from cloud services? Bitwarden is a cloud services since your password data is stored in their cloud. You can probably run Vaultwarden on your nas to host your own Password manager, it’s a opensource clone of Bitwarden. Obsidian seems alright since it’s free and with you have to take a subscription. Why not try and find workable opensource solutions for all of the functionalities that you need?

I’ve been on the Premium plan for Bitwarden for years and didn’t realise that… :smiley: Looks like that’s my next project then!

I tried NextCloud a few years back, both on a Raspberry Pi and on the NAS, for some reason I couldn’t get the sync to perform that well. Perhaps it’s time to give that another try too, although the simplicity of an nfs file share really can’t be faulted. Ironically seems to have a lot of the apps and tools built in to their service, I wonder if they use it as the backend. Thanks for the poke on Bitwarden…!

The key word there is workable, and finding that balance between being functional and more pain than it’s worth is a tricky one. :slight_smile: I can export my Bitwarden vault and encrypt it securely, and my NAS is locked down hard enough that there’s no external access beyond my own LAN, so I would have to find a way to make a local service effective and flexible enough to run wherever I am. It’s a journey… :slight_smile:

Give tailscale a try, very simple VPN solution.

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