Rclone as a helper for external backups

Browser or Terminal

After copy or sync actions, you can see in the browser whether the transfer was successful. Simply call the corresponding service's web front end (Figure 4). For a faster response, use the following command at the command line:

rclone lsd gdrv:/Pictures
Figure 4: After the upload, you can check in the browser whether Rclone has uploaded the data completely.

This call tells Rclone to display the last action in relation to the specified folder.

For more information, use

rclone ls gdrv:/Pictures

which lists each transferred file and its size (Figure 5). If you omit the folder for both commands (assuming that you selected the 1 option for full access to cloud storage during configuration), Rclone will list all of the drive instance's folders or files.

Figure 5: If you are dealing with machine-readable-only data that you can't check visually, the terminal offers an easier option than the browser.

Encryption Must-Have

As previously mentioned, any data you store on Google Drive should be encrypted to protect your privacy. Now that you know that Rclone is working as expected, it's time for automatic encryption during the upload [7].

Call rclone config again, and select 9 to create a new remote of the type Encrypt/Decrypt a remote. The configuration is similar to before. In addition to passwords, you are also prompted to decide whether the system should encrypt the file and folder names (Figure 6). During the test, I named this remote secret.

Figure 6: Rclone uses its own remote to encrypt your data during the upload to provide protection against unauthorized access even on proprietary clouds.

As the target, I specified gdrv:Images and told Rclone to encrypt file names but not folder names. Then I used the command from the first line of Listing 3 to save the test data that I had previously deleted from the online storage for more clarity. After that, the encrypted file names were visible in the terminal (line 2), as well as in the browser (Figure 7).

Listing 3

Making Encrypted File Names Visible


Figure 7: After uploading with encryption enabled, the browser and thus the cloud storage provider only see cryptic file names.

Working Graphically

If you want to use Rclone with a graphical user interface (GUI), the Rclone Browser [8] front end lets you do so; it covers most of the Rclone functions (Figure 8). The program lets you upload and download data and mount Google Drive in your home directory, supporting many parameters. If several remotes are used, you manage them together within the GUI.

Figure 8: When uploading, Rclone Browser supports the most important options of the command-line application.

Rclone Browser can be found in the package sources of Debian and Ubuntu. However, if you have built Rclone yourself, you will also want to compile the latest version of Rclone Browser. The package manager will again try to set up the Rclone version from the repository together with the GUI, which will tend to lag behind the current state of development.

The GUI turned out to be bottleneck in the test. In tests over several days, Rclone Browser only achieved a little more than half the throughput that I achieved at the command line. I couldn't find an explanation for this. You should therefore always start a big initial upload via the terminal.

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