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This decentralized, encrypted cloud storage service might be your ticket out of Google Drive

If you're looking for a Google Drive alternative that's decentralized and encrypted, Jack Wallen believes Internxt might be exactly what you need.

I'm not gonna lie, I depend on Google Drive. I use it every day and have done so for a long time. At the same time, I'm always on the lookout for other services to either take the place of Drive or be used for those instances where I don't necessarily trust my data to Google. If that sounds like you, I have a service you might want to try out.

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The said service is Internxt, which is a zero-knowledge, encrypted, and decentralized platform that also happens to be open source. In fact, you can view and check out the source for not just the desktop and mobile clients, but the service itself. All of that code is hosted on the Internxt GitHub repository. Internxt has desktop clients for Linux, macOS, and Windows, as well as mobile clients for Android and iOS. 

I've found Internxt to be an exciting entry to the cloud storage game, primarily because of its decentralized nature. What does that mean? Simply put, a decentralized platform allocates resources (hardware and software) to multiple locations, so not one server or data center is relied upon. What this does is not only share the workload but also offer a better security model and better reliability for a service. Should one system go down, there are still plenty of others running to pick up the slack.

It's far more complicated than that, but you get the idea. 

So, Internxt is a decentralized cloud storage service, which means your files are fragmented and encrypted before they leave your device. Because of this, a third party will struggle to steal your data. If that sounds like a must-have feature for your cloud storage needs, read on.

Currently, Internxt offers four different plans:

  • 10 GB of storage - Free

  • 20 GB of storage - $0.94/month

  • 200 GB of storage - $3.69/month

  • 2TB of storage - $9.49/month

Currently, Internxt has two different products. The first is called Drive and is used for files. The second product is called Photos and is used for, you guessed it, photos. They're working on a third product, called Send, which will allow you to send files from your account.

You should probably start with a free account so you can test the waters before diving into the deep end of 200GB of 2TB of storage space.

The biggest question I always ask of cloud storage solutions off the bat is do you have a desktop client? If the answer is "yes," I'll give them a chance. If not, I'll generally move on to the next option. Internxt does have a desktop client, although it's fairly bare-bones. In fact, the Internxt desktop client is really just a way to add a local directory to your account to keep in sync. The one caveat to Internxt is there is no file manager integration. You can connect your account to the desktop, specify the folder to be associated with the account, and even back up other folders from your local drive. But if you're looking for a file manager context menu (such as when you right-click a folder you can easily add that folder to your Internxt cloud storage), you're out of luck. If you want to sync a folder to your account, it'll need to be configured in the desktop app preferences and anything you add into that folder will sync to your decentralized Internxt account.

That's not necessarily a deal-breaker for most users because you can simply work from within that synced folder and you're good to go. For power users, it would be nice if Internxt would add file manager integration. Maybe, with a bit of prodding, they'll make that happen.

Once you've installed the Internxt desktop client (which is downloaded from within your cloud account - Figure 1), you can then open the app and change the location of your synced folder.

Figure 1

internxt1.jpg

The desktop client download location.

After installing, open the Internxt client and, click the gear icon to access the preferences. Within the preferences (Figure 2), you can enable the service to run at startup and change the default folder.

Figure 2

internx2.jpg

Configuring Internxt from the desktop client on macOS Monterey.

I did run into an issue with the desktop client on both Pop!_OS Linux 22.04 and Ubuntu Desktop 22.04. Once the desktop client was running, there was no way to stop it. Should I accidentally start it twice, I'd have two instances and the only way to kill them was to do it manually (either using the killall command or from the System Monitor Center). On macOS, a two-finger tap of the Internxt icon in the top bar reveals a popup menu with two options: Show/hide and Quit. 

One final issue is that you have to manually create a bookmark for your Internxt local directory in your file manager. Again, that's not a dealbreaker, but it's something you'll want to know when setting up Internxt on your local machine for an efficient workflow.

My hot take

Internxt isn't perfect, but it is one of the few user-friendly decentralized cloud options on the market. So if you're looking for a more secure service to meet your cloud storage needs, and you don't want to have to work through a large number of configuration options and complex setups, Internxt is a great option. Hopefully, in the future, they'll not only fix the Linux desktop app issue but add file manager integration. If Internxt were to do those two things, their service could be a serious game-changer for cloud-based storage.

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