Box Drive - creating your future and managing your past

The Box Drive GA release is here and it's the future of Box on your desktop (or laptop).

That's not a hyperbole - Box Drive literally and figuratively creates your future - it's a file-system on your local machine that "creates" itself on demand. Your Box cloud might contain hundreds of thousands of files and folders and terabytes of data. Box Drive presents all that information on your local machine, only creating those parts of your Box cloud that you visit and use. It's pretty cool... you can navigate your way to some corner of your company's data... and there it is. Search for a document from 6 years ago and moments later it's open on your desktop –all from the comforts of Window's File Explorer or Mac's Finder.

A picture comes to mind. Imagine a team of brick masons creating the path you're on... finishing the last bricks as you travel through your day. That's Box Drive. Whether you're navigating around your desktop opening folders or using Box Drive's handy search feature, whenever you need to get to your files in Box, they will be there, the bricklayers will get the job done. Files and folders will appear and content will get downloaded.

Imagine you've been using Box Drive for some weeks or months. Picture that path you've walked and all those bricks that have been tirelessly laid... that could be a ton of bricks! Out of the countless files and folder that you've navigated to, out of the gigabytes of content you might have downloaded... all that stuff has costs, including:

  1. local storage
  2. memory (aka RAM)
  3. CPU (aka Time)
  4. network (aka time and $)

The brick path that's been laid... it's not free to maintain! Here are some of those costs:

  • When you restart you machine, Box Drive has to recreate itself. It recreates that huge brick path that you've traveled. This takes time and CPU.
  • Lots of the structure of your Box Drive file system is kept in memory. Navigate around to new parts of your Box Cloud, and more memory gets consumed. This takes RAM.
  • As changes are happening in Box, remember... all your colleagues are also working in this same cloud. Box Drive has to keep your local rendition of the file system in-sync. Those brick masons might have to move bricks around, re-route the path, etc. A partner moves a bunch of files from here to there. Well, if you have those files in your local Box Drive file-system then that same move has to happen on your system. This takes Time, CPU, and Network.
  • All the files you reviewed, all the contracts, all the slide decks, all the video files, all the whatever sort of content your business uses to kick butt - all of that content. This all takes Storage.

Box Drive has long removed content when storage space gets low, but even before that point, there's overhead to maintain data that no longer seems relevant. After all, with Box Drive the data will reappear whenever its needed again.

A new behavior in Box Drive is what we call "pruning". Extending my analogy - brick razing. Instead of forever paying the costs of a larger and larger filesystem, parts of it are pruned, not unlike brick-razers deconstructing parts of your path.

Box Drive created your future, and now with pruning it's managing your past. It's freeing up RAM because there's less of a file-system. It's freeing up disk space because never used content is gotten rid of. It's lowering CPU usage because there's a smaller file system to keep in-sync with your Cloud.

You might be wondering... so what's gonna get pruned?

We've got lots of ideas on that! Some obvious ones include:

  • Keeping to a reasonable overall "size" for the file system. Size here means the number of files and folder, not the size of the "content" of those files. Maintaining a reasonable size keeps things from getting too bloated on RAM and too slow on startup.
  • Getting rid of parts of your file system that haven't needed/used in a while. One of the amazing benefits of being your file-system... there aren't any secrets. Box Drive knows what's being used and what's not being used. And Box Drive can prune away areas that haven't been used in some time.

The result is a product more respectful of your time and resources. It's not a feature that you'll see, and yet we hope that you enjoy it's benefits. At Box non-features like this are often our favorite features!

We hope you'll give Box Drive a spin (or a walk down a brick path) and we hope that you find it delightful.

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