SME Web Cloud File Manager updated: Unify your Clouds

We have done a major update of our Web File Manager today. You may have used our File Manager beta over the last few months. This File Manager has gone live and there are shot of new features that business and individual users can take advantage of. The include:

1. Simplified Layout: The whole File Manager has been simplified. Now the two panes of how files are shown works just as it does not the desktop with files being shown in both panes. Also the menu bar has been vastly simplified to concentrate on the options that are used the most, such as sharing, folder creation, and upload.





Also all file and folders function has been consolidated on a right click. Right clicking on a file brings up the options for the file, the same with folders:





2. Improvements in Links sharing and link expiry: We always supported password protecting files on upload via file encryption and link expiry on email generation for file sharing but we have extended this for password protecting any shared link generated with link expiration:


3. Improvements in how to copy and move files between different services: This is as easy as shift and click and then dragging and dropping. Refer to the below video for more details.

This works with folders too, you can drag and drop folders between services easily.

4. Improvements when using a tablet: When using a tablet, the File Manager reacts differently and is optimised for touch screens. Selecting multiple files is just a matter of clicking to the left of the file, and a tick will appear to let you know the file is selected. File options can be done by doing a long touch or press on the file as right click is not applicable on tablets.

We hope you like the new look File Manager. We continue to work on it and have some even further optimisations to come soon !

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Cloud File Manager for Windows Phone updated: Unify access to your Cloud Files

We recently updated The Windows Phone Cloud File Manager. Features include:

– Instant access to unified Cloud files anytime, anywhere direct from a WP7 device.

– Assign lengthy tasks and operations to the SME Platform Tasks Engine (PTE). Use your phone while tasks are completed in background. Check progress at anytime in cloud tasks.

– Manage multiple Clouds in a single view. Easily move files between different clouds, done in background.

– Advanced Cloud Search feature that can search for files across multiple clouds.

– Unique Cloud Clipboard feature enables file management from different clouds in batches, without downloading & then uploading.

– Unique Direct Upload uploads files from web directly, no need to download and then upload, just enter file address and our servers will upload it in background.

– Open files in the phone in Microsoft Office, MediaPlayer etc.

– Share and collaborate – share files to social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Windows Live, etc.), over email or with users groups.

– Record audio (even with screen locked), take notes and 2-way sync with chosen Cloud(s). No need for another recording App.

– 2-way sync pictures with different Clouds. Integrated with Pictures hub. Pictures can be uploaded (shared) directly from the hub.

We have seen a recent surge in business customers wanting to use the Windows Phone with our Cloud File Server SaaS and hosted hybrid appliance and expect this to continue with the recently announced windows phone business features.

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Amazon S3 file encryption now supported

We have for quite a while enabled public/private key AES 256 bit file encryption for files in which the private key is not stored on our servers. Many providers now support their own encryption and what we offer is over and above that (and in many cases our encryption is used as an additional security as it is truly private whereas in most cases the vendor stores the public and private key).

We believe it makes sense for us to support vendor Cloud encryption mechanisms were they add value and are possible. To this end we now support the Amazon S3 Cloud encryption and we’ve made it pretty easy to turn the encryption on, straight from the settings of the S3 provider (accessible from the Web DashBoard):

Once you are in the settings page of the S3 provider you simply turn it on:

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Linux Cloud Tools updated to 3.0.12

We’ve updated our Linux Cloud Tools to 3.0.12. The changes include:

1. Supports deleting of files during sync

If a user deletes files locally and syncs then the files will be deleted on the server. If a user  deletes files on the server and then syncs then files will be deleted locally. These 2 options are ‘Off’ by default. and can be turned on in settings of the sync center.

2. In Ubuntu 11.10+ “Hide in tray” works correctly.

3. Fixed Menu duplication

4. Fix for large fonts bug.

5. In Explorer new option to upload folder (previously only individual files were possible to upload).

6. Fixed bug with trash in explorer (not all files from trash were displayed)

7. Sync center works as per other OS sync tooling.  The “My syncs” folder concept is not used any more and desktop to different cloud folders can be mapped. ie. any folder can now be nominated for sync.  The free version has a restriction of 3 folders that can be sync’d

8. Encryption now supported (only for Personal Cloud or Business Cloud users.). In the Properties window it is possible to set a password for encryption of files during sync.

9. Small fix for Properties window for small screens. Scrolling works correctly now.

The Linux Cloud Tools can be used with the following Clouds:

Google Docs, Google Storage, Google Sites,
Amazon S3, MobileMe, Microsoft Live Mesh (read only),
Microsoft SkyDrive, DropBox, Azure Blob Storage,
Box.net, RackSpace Cloud Files, OpenStack Swift,
Gmail-as-a-Cloud, Email-as-a-Cloud, Mezeo,
HP Object Cloud Storage, S3 compliant Clouds such as (Eucalyptus Walrus),
Ubuntu One Cloud, iKeepinCloud, PogoPlug,
BaseCamp SaaS Service, IBM Connections Files,
EMC Atmos, Office365, SharePoint, CloudMe,
HostingSolutions.it, Scality, Alfresco (on-premise),
Zimbra Briefcase, SafeSync(WebDav enabled),
FilesAnywhere (WebDav enabled), and any WebDav enabled Cloud.

The tools can be downloaded from the Linux Cloud Tools Page.

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Integrating iAnnotate with Google Drive, Amazon S3, OpenStack, and other Cloud Storage solutions

The latest version of iAnnotate PDF, the iPad App that enables editing of PDF Documents, adds support for WebDav which means that you can use the SME ClouDav Protocol Adaptor, free with the iOS SME iOS App, to connect iAnnotate to many Clouds that it does not natively support. SMES supports integration with more Storage and SaaS Clouds than any other service.

The steps to enable access to the Clouds mapped to your SME Account are simple:

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CloudDav is enabled with all Business Cloud File Server Accounts and also available in the on-premise enterprise version of the Storage Made Easy EFSS solution.

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Amazon S3 West (Oregon) region now supported

Amazon Recently announced their West (Oregon) region for their Amazon S3 service. We now added support for this so you can use and create buckets in/for the West (Oregon) region. To access this feature you need to go to ‘My DashBoard’ after login and then from the My DashBoard screen choose to enter the settings of the S3 Provider that you wish to change.

 

Also, we updated the way we display Amazon files in the Web Explorer. Users had requested that they could easily distinguish what were buckets and what were folders so we added some extra visual icons to make this identification easier.

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You don’t need to Jailbreak to have the full files experience on your iPad / iPhone

I was talking to a friend recently and he was bemoaning the fact that he had upgraded his iPad 2 and therefore lost his jailbreak Apps, and in particular the iFile application which he felt made the iPad into more of a a laptop replacement. Without this he felt that as well as his iPad he also needed his laptop on trips “just in case”.

This got me thinking and I asked him what it was he needed to do. His answer was:

I need to be able to save files from my email locally, and then be able to send files I’ve saved on my device as an attachment, and I also need to be able to download any file type from the web browser and email if I need to. I also need  access to my internal office files over WebDav, my own personal DropBox files, and also files stored from our supplier which are hosted on a Amazon S3 Account they give us. With the Amazon S3 files I need to download then locally as I need to be able to share them with our customers as they are product information sheets, and I cannot just set them public in Amazon S3 as I don’t want to make these files available to everyone.

Additional to all of this I also want to be able to work with my Local files ie create directories, and even cut and paste files so that I can organise them, just like I would do on my laptop.”

I stepped through with him how he could do all of this with our Storage Made Easy iOS client and he was amazed. He did not know he could do some of these things without jailbreaking his iPad. Given the value he got from our chat he cajoled me into putting together this blog post outlining what I went through with him to share any value other readers / users would get from it.

Lets take the things he mentioned one by one:

1. Requirement: I need to be able to save files from email and web browser locally – You can save any attachment from your email into SME, even if the iPad does not recognise the file. The SME App lets you save any file type from email or Safari. Once it is saved you can choose to view it within SME, or send it as an attachment using the iOS email client. You can also choose to open the file into another iOS App and work with/on the file from there.

2. Requirement: I need to access my internal office files that I can share using WebDav and also my DropBox files – The SME App fully support access to local files over the WebDav protocol directly from the iPad and also works with DropBox. Both sets of files are presented in a unified file system so that they can easily be managed and you can even copy and paste files between the two.

3. Requirement: I need to be able to work with my Amazon S3 files and be able to download and share them over email with my supplier: As with DropBox and WebDav The SME App supports Amazon S3 and enables files to be managed or moved between clouds, as well as being download locally. However SME also enables you to share Amazon S3 files without making the files public on Amazon S3. You can even set a link expiry so that the file links that are shared eventually expire.

The SME App does not just work with WebDav, Amazon S3, and DropBox it now works with over 50 Storage Clouds.

4. Requirement: I also want to be able to work with my Local files ie create directories, and even cut and paste files so that I can organise them, just like I would do on my laptop – You can do exactly this in SME local files view. You can move files about using cut and paste and you can also create directories to help organise your files.

This touches only part of what can be done with the Storage Made EasyCloud and Local File Manager. Please see the slideshow below to see more:

 

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Cloud Computing Use Case: Automating Website backup to Amazon S3 using Plesk

Continuing on our theme of presenting interesting use cases that we come across when dealing with customers and businesses, this one is to do with backing up data to Amazon S3 in an automated fashion using Plesk. This was the request from the company involved. The condition being that the control panel can only backup to an external server via FTP. There is no native way to back up to S3 via Plesk.

This of course is tailor made for our CloudFTP product which turns any Storage Cloud into an FTP Server even if the Storage Cloud does not support FTP. This works with any of the Clouds you add to a SME Account, and of course S3 is one of these.

To satisfy this use case, the first thing to do is ensure the relevant S3 account is added to your account. This can even be a free account. You can do this either as part of sign up or from the Cloud DashBoard.

SME Dashboard

 

 

 

Once you have added the S3 Provider You can add CloudFTP to your account from “Cloud Add On’s” available on the right sidebar after login to the website. Once this is added to your account you can access any Cloud mapped to your account over ftp (Ftp://ftp.storagemadeeasy.com) with your username and password as authentication. This works even though the underlying Cloud, in this case, S3 does not natively support the FTP protocol.

Once this is done you can then automate your website backups using Plesk and your recently created S3-FTP. First login to the Plesk Control Panel:

 

 

 

 

 

Next navigate to the correct domain:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and finally navigate to the Backup Manager:

 

 

 

 

 

from here you can select to backup to a personal FTP repository:

 

 

 

 

 

and then enter the StorageMadeEasy.com FTP settings as outlined earlier in the post:

 

 

 

 

 

The end result is your website backed up safely to S3 (or any other Cloud that we support that you can choose).

 

 

 

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Creating Amazon S3 public, private and encrypted shared links for business use

Amazon S3 is a great robust reliant storage service but sharing files could be easier. This post will step you through how you can easily create and share links for Amazon S3 using SMEStorage clients and tools.

If you wish to make file links available for sharing using Amazon S3 then you need to edit the Access Control List list for that file and grant read access. Amazon provides API’s and programmatic access to do this and there are many tools that work with Amazon that enable to visually alter the ACL. S3Fox is one popular one that comes to mind.

The SMEStorage tools are more focused on the use of shared links from a knowledge worker or business perspective. How they are generated and used works above any Cloud File mapped to a SMEStorage Account (ie. Not just Amazon S3).

The way SMEStorage works is that it becomes an abstraction of any Cloud that it is mapped to it. During the initial setup SMEStorage syncs information about the files. This includes the filename, date, creation and modify time, location etc. The files don’t move and continue to reside at their original location, and this mechanism enables SMEStorage to provide a virtual Cloud directory of files available to your account from the different storage providers you have mapped to it.

This meta mapping mechanism is transparent to users and enables SMEStorage to add value added services, such as the link creation for example (other examples that come to mind are adding FTP and WebDav even when the underlying Clouds do not support them).

Once the Amazon S3 Provider has been added to an account and the meta information sync, as outlined above, completed it is possible to generate secure private, or public file links for sharing files.

When you generate a link using any of the SMEStorage tools for Amazon S3 you are not changing the ACL of the file, which remains private, but granting access to the file via SMEStorage.

There are a few ways you can share files in this way:

1. Generate a SMEStorage link (which in turn can be given as a TinyURL). This link is generated using a 30 character created URL. The URL string is created using multiple input seeds: the filename, file size, and a random seed. The link does not exist until it is requested. Once requested the link remains available until the file is changed (ie renamed, or moved).

The advantage of this is that you can share a link with one or two people whilst keeping the actual file private.

All tools can generate such links, below is an example of this using iSMEStorage for the iPad.

2. Managed file sharing link: you can choose to share files using a SMEStorage generated email. The advantage of this is you can set an expiry time on the links which prevents the link from being reused or passed around at some point in the future.

Below is a screenshot of this sharing method from iSMEStorage for iPad.

3. Setting a file to public. When you set an Amazon S3 file (or any other file mapped to your account) to public it appears on your public files page, RSS page and is available via the web as it can be indexed by Search engines.

4. Sharing a file with a Collaboration Group: With SMEStorage you can choose to create Virtual Groups, to which you can invite members. You can do this directly from Client Tools, including mobile tools. You can then choose to share a file with the group and all members of the group will automatically be notified that there is a new file, without you needing to do anything. They are also notified automatically if a file is changed or updated.

Below are some mobile groups that have been created from a Windows Phone 7 mobile device:

5. Encrypted file shares: if you upload the file using any SMEStorage client you can choose to encrypt the file using AES-256 encryption, in which you keep the private key. SMEStorage does not store it. If you lose the key you will not be able to access the file. Once encrypted you can choose to share using any of the above mechanisms, but anyone clicking on the file link will need the password you chose when you encrypted the file. If you don’t provide this to them they will not be able to access the file.

The picture below shows the screen that is shown when a user tries to access an encrypted file.

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Automating OpenStack Swift backup to Amazon S3

One of the interesting things you can do when you have added an OpenStack Swift Provider to an Account is to automate the backing up off data to another Cloud, something we call ‘Cloud Safe’. This means if the OpenStack Swift data is not available then you can access the data from the backup Cloud.

We’ll step through an example of how to automate the backing up of data from OpenStack Swift to Amazon S3.

First you’ll need an account that supports such a backup. For this you’ll need either a Personal Lifetime Cloud or an Organisation Cloud File Server Account, or you’ll need to be using the SMEStorage Open Cloud Platform Appliance.

Once you have mapped OpenStack to your Account you can proceed to the Cloud Dashboard to assign a backup Cloud Provider for OpenStack:

If you click on the “Add Cloud Provider” dialog you will be asked to choose whether you wish to add a primary cloud provider or a backup cloud provider:

Ensure you Select the backup provider radio button and also Amazon S3 as the cloud to be used for backup. Once you have done this you will be taken to a wizard to enter your Amazon S3 Details:

Once you have stepped through the wizard and completed adding your S3 account a sync task will be generated that will synchronise the existing data that resides on OpenStack with the Amazon S3 Cloud you just added. You can check on the status of this Cloud sync task from the Cloud Sync task link in the right sidebar after login from SMEStorage.com.

Once this task has completed your data is sync’d to S3. If you upload any new data a sync task will be created to also transfer this to S3. If you delete any data then it will be deleted from your primary cloud but the default action is not to remove it from your backup cloud, in the event you later wish to find such removed data.

This mechanism of “Cloud Safe” or Cloud-to-Cloud backup will actually work with any combination of Clouds that are mapped to your account.

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Version 2.11 of iSMECloud File Manager for iPad and iPhone now in App Store

The latest version of the iSMEStorage Cloud File Manager for iPhone / iPad is now in the App Store. There are a host of new features including a re-designed workflow for easier Cloud Files (and local flies) interactions, a new PDF component that supports large PDF files, and support for OpenStack and Google Sites Clouds.

The below presentation showcases the Cloud File Manager for the iPad:

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