Using Midnight Commander to work with Amazon S3, OpenStack, DropBox, OneDrive and almost any other Cloud

Midnight Commander is probably the most popular command line file manager in the world, and certainly for Linux distros. Its design was initially inspired by the classic two pane interface that was found in Norton Commander which was a DOS file manager (for those who remember !).

One of the unsung features of the Midnight Commander (also available on other platforms including phones (I used to use this on my old Nokia N900) and windows and mac) is that it can connect to server over FTP.

This is interesting from a Storage Made Easy viewpoint as although SME providers a full suite of Linux tools, SME also provider protocol interoperability as part of its Cloud Gateway features. What is this I hear you ask ? Well, simply put, it enables files you have stored on public or private storage to be accessible over any of the protocols Storage Made Easy exposes ie FTP, FTPS, WebDav, S3, SFTP.

SME Protocol Gateway

Midnight Commander supports the FTP protocol which makes it easy to get direct access to any storage that is added to a SME Account using the SME FTP cloud protocol adaptor. To do this:

Choose the Left or Right option
Choose FTP link
Enter connection to SME as follows:

or if you are using the SME EU Server:

Midnight Commander FTP

The net result is a very easy way to bring the cloud into the linux desktop integrated with tools you already know and use. This can be used with the SME Personal CLoud plan, Business Team, and on-site enterprise editions of the product.

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New Folder Sharing feature for team users

We have implemented a new folder sharing feature for Business Cloud / on-site Enterprise File Share and Sync Users. It simply provides the ability to share folders and sub-folders of files with external companies or other users who can receive the link, enter the password and gain access to the files without the need for an SME Account.

The video below shows the feature in action.

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New Storage Made Easy Google Chrome Cloud Unifier File Manager Extension

We’ve added a new Storage Made Easy Chrome extension to the Chrome Web Store. The sole function of this extension is to enable auto-login and launch of the SME Web File Manager for quick access.

The SME Web File Manager is a hierarchical file manager which makes it ideal to deal with large data set and also data from different on-premise or public cloud storage, which are unified in the file tree. A Storage Made Easy Account is needed but a free account can be signed up directly from the extension.

The reason for this extension was to make it a lot easier for users to be able to gain access to the Web Cloud File Manager for one of our business customers who had equipped their salesforce with Chromebook Pixel’s.

The Web File Manager enabled them to have a workflow which included editing and commenting of documents directly from the Chromebook on various clouds that they used which includes BaseCamp and Amazon S3.

The extension can also be used for securely sharing files which include setting passwords on files and/or time expiry.

The web file manager, from a single user perspective provides a very nice way to work with data between cloud providers and even collaborate with other people using Business Group WorkSpaces. For business users it provides a complete collaboration environment between user which includes files editing, file commenting, file versioning and file locking.

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SME Windows 8 optimised RT Cloud FIle Explorer Surface App

Our Windows 8 optimised Surface RT App has been out for a while now but we thought we should formally introduce it on the blog!

The App is optimised for touch and Windows 8 tablets, although it can be used by an Windows 8 OS.

It works with any free, Personal Cloud,  or Business Cloud File Server Account, and it is free from the Windows App Store (and to remind those who don’t know the SME Windows Phone App is also available for free from the Windows Phone App Store).

You can see a brief video overview of the App below:

Remember that the full version of our tools is also Windows 8 ready and it includes a native desktop drive, Sync, Microsoft Office Plug In’s and also Microsoft Outlooks secure link sharing. It is available for Personal Cloud and Business Cloud Users.

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Web File Manager Updates: Shared file link management improved

We have today updated the way in which shared links are managed for all Cloud Files mapped to an account from the web Cloud File Manager. It is now possible to have multiple links for a single file and to easily manage them. These file share links can be either a direct private share, a time expired share or a secure share. Please see the below video for a detailed overview.

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Giving up MobileMe ? Don’t worry SME now supports iCloud !

Please note that since June 2017 the iCloud connector has been deprecated and the File Fabric no longer supports it

It’s taken a while but we are finally happy to let you know that we support iCloud. As MobileMe’s comes to an end and we have to retire our MobileMe Provider we’ll now be supporting iCLoud instead.

We had held off implementing iCLoud for a while as support for document’s is basically limited to .Pages, .Number and .Keynote. However we have implemented full file support in our iCloud provider. How have you done that you may ask ! Well we’ve done this by implementing a “hybrid” iCloud provider in which you can save iWork documents to the relevant locations but any other documents will be stored as file attachements in your iCloud email enabling you to make full use of your iCloud Space.

To start, first sign up for a free account at SMEStorage. Once you have your account then sign in, navigate to the Cloud DashBoard and choose to add a new Cloud Provider and choose iCloud:

Next enter your iCloud authentication details so that SME can sync the meta-data from your iCloud account.:

Once done you can choose to synchronise your files:

Once this is done then we can navigate our files in the Cloud File Manager:

Any iWork file that you upload within the Document directory of Pages, Keynote and Numbers should be available from any of the iCloud Apps. If you wish iWork files to be seen by other iCloud Apps you must put them in these folders.

Also note that you must have added some iWork files already to see these folders. If you have not they won’t be present and you’ll need to re-sync your account once you have added files.

You are free to create other Folder and upload any type of files and these files will actually reside in your iCloud email account and if you use any of the SME Cloud Access clients you will be able to download, create share links, etc for all files types within your iCloud. Note that you cannot upload files to root unless you have an active iCloud email account and have logged in at least once to this email account.

Below is an example of what is seen from an iCloud mail view when files types are stored on iCloud email.

and what these files look like in the Cloud File Manager:

iCloud is a beta provider right now and is available for all free, personal and business accounts.

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What does Apple iCloud mean to users and vendors ?

Lauren Carlson recently published an interesting post entitled “Can the Apple iCloud Make it Rain in the Enterprise”. The premise of the post was to explore whether iCloud has a future in the Enterprise as well as for the consumer market.

Our own view on this is that the requirements for small business users, never mind Enterprise, far outstrip what most storage vendors build into their products. Our own Cloud File Server offering has educated us regarding what some of these features and functions are. Let me outline just a few:

User Management – sounds easy right ? Not so easy when you throw in managing also file and directory permission

Ubiquitous Access – Users want to be able to access their data over standard API’s such as WebDav and FTP and also from heterogeneous operating systems using integration and tools that also support the other features they want such as the user permission we talked about earlier. They want desktop drives, support on all mobile devices, support on a plethora of Operating Systems. They want what their business demands and they are all different…..

Groups / Shared Directories: Shared directory structures and the ability to manage groups at a granular level is another ‘must’

Encryption’: Managed encryption of data from the file store to the device is also one of the things many users request.

On premise solution: Many customers want an appliance as they want to use local data as well as public clouds. It’s hard to see a time when absolutely all data will be managed in the Cloud and we see many customers who want a best of breed combination of both. It’s unlikely that Apple would make iCloud available as a server-side solution.

Other Data Clouds: As per our recent InfoGraphic we see must of our business customers and even single knowledge workers do not use only one cloud. They use best of breed public clouds combined with private storage clouds and want ease of use and access to manage these in one file system.

– Best of Breed Integrations: Apple is likely to integrate with everything they provide, the same way that Google does with its product set and Microsoft does with its own product set. This is fine if you only ever want to use these products, but what if you  want to mix and match or have your data integrate with other best of breed solutions ?

We could go on and on I guess. We don’t see anyone vendor becoming dominant. The world is quite big enough for all of them to co-exist and we will support iCloud and continue to broker between them all and provide innovative additional services, access from any mobile client and desktop and providing our open cloud file server platform so that users can choose to work with the clouds that they need, in the way they want to.

To summarise we see iCloud as an opportunity, not a threat, for users and small businesses who wish to extend iCloud’s functionality and who wish to integrate it into their information and collaboration processes.

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How make your Cloud Data public but still keep it private

Being able to share data publicly via a website is very attractive for lots of different reasons, especially when you want to give the widest possible reach to your data, from an internet search perspective.

However, there are times that you wish the data to be visible, but also be able to control who has access to it. We had a good example of this recently from an educational establishment who uses SMEStorage with their own FTP Server to make available course content publicly to remote learning students. They wanted the course data and titles of files to be available and entered into search engines to attract future  students, but they also wanted to be able to control access to the data so that only students who were enrolled on the course could download the content.

One of the features of the SMEStorage cloud Gateway is that it enables you to work with your cloud data but overlays certain features and functions that you may not get from your provider. One of these is encryption. If you upload your data to your storage cloud via SMEStorage then you can choose to add an encryption key which then encrypts the data with an AES encryption cipher (key) that you choose and which only you know. This is the key private key you then need to share with anyone who wants access to the files.

Lets look at the steps of this in practice:

1. Upload your data to your cloud via SMEStorage and choose to encrypt it. The key is not stored on the platform and is known only by you.

2. When the file is stored you will notice that in the Web File Manager it has a key next to it that notifies you it is encrypted.

3. If you now set this file to be public in the File Manager then it is stored in your public files page which is of the format

4. If a user then clicks on the file that you made public but which you also encrypted then they will be asked to enter the encryption key before they can download the file.

This works above all file storage clouds that SMEStorage supports, such as Google Docs, SkyDrive, DropBox, Amazon S3 etc. It is a great way to be able to limit access to files but still make them available.

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Android SME Cloud File Manager updated to 1.7

We have updated our Android SMEStorage Cloud File Manager on the Google Android Marketplace to version 1.7. This new release has the following changes:
– Enabled Notes to be emailed as attachments
– Accessing notes changed to a double tap
– Added support for HTTPS on login (https is slower)
– Added support to upload any file from phone to storage cloud chosen
– Added support for icloud, safesync & Sharepoint clouds. SharePoint can only be used by SMEStorage business accounts.

The next release will feature HTTP / FTP support for local file upload over Wi Fi and also sync from ‘cloud to phone’ / ‘phone to cloud’ scheduling, a much requested feature.

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