Over the past two weeks, we’ve offered a primer on cloud storage services, explaining what they are, what to look for in a provider, and some of the options that are available. With all of that in mind, we’re going to return to the IFTTT (If This Then That) automation service to consider some of the ways that cloud storage services can be used with your automation workflows.
While we’ve talked about IFTTT extensively, and even touched on some ways to log home data using some cloud services, we felt that with our recent series on cloud storage, it was worth taking a direct look at what IFTTT can do with each of the various cloud providers.
Right away, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are only a handful of major cloud storage providers that provide any kind of IFTTT integration at all, and of the services we looked at, you’re basically limited to Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. While each of these provides an IFTTT service, there are some differences in what you can do with each one. In this article we’ll go over the IFTTT features that each one offers, and in our second part we’ll provide some examples of how they can be used in IFTTT applets.
Amazon Cloud Drive and Microsoft OneDrive
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Amazon Cloud Drive’s IFTTT service is the most basic of the bunch — we’re including it here mostly for completeness. It offers no triggers at all, and only one very simple action — Add file from URL.
Unfortunately, this is also the case with Microsoft’s IFTTT service for OneDrive — something that we found more disappointing for a cloud storage service that is otherwise pretty robust, and a favorite choice for many Microsoft Office users.
In either case, this action allows you to specify the location of a file that’s already publicly available somewhere on the web — such as a photo — and save it as a file in your Cloud Drive.
Dropbox offers one of the most versatile IFTTT services, supporting not only some useful actions that allow you to create and append to text files, but also some helpful triggers for initiating applets based on what shows up in your Dropbox.
The three available triggers act on similar conditions — a new file appearing in a specified folder in your Dropbox — but allow you to choose whether you want any file to trigger your applet, or only a text file or photo file. Files triggering the applet can also be passed through to an action that supports file ingredients.
Dropbox provides the same Add file from URL action as Amazon Cloud Drive and OneDrive, but also adds the ability to create a new text file, or append to an existing one — a trick we demonstrated in a previous article on using IFTTT to log home data.
The Google Drive IFTTT service is interesting, as it provides triggers that are similar to those in Dropbox — and even adds a few — but has only a single Add file from URL action.
Like Dropbox, Google Drive’s IFTTT triggers offer the ability to initiate an action based on new files appearing in your Google Drive, but in this case, the triggers can operate on any new file, a new photo, or a new video. Additionally, there are triggers available to fire off an applet whenever a file is starred, or whenever a new file appears that matches a standard Google Drive search query. Both triggers offer some interesting possibilities beyond just scanning a folder.
Google Drive’s lack of actions may seem a bit more disappointing at first glance, until you realize that Google also offers IFTTT services for both Google Docs and Google Sheets that can be used to create and update files in your Google Drive instead. While you won’t be able to manipulate a plain text file (we recommend Dropbox for that), you can write data into a word processing document or spreadsheet with even more flexibility.
Although the Google Docs IFTTT service is pretty standard, offering a basic new file trigger as well as create and append actions, the Google Sheets IFTTT service is more versatile, not only offering the ability to append rows and update an existing cell in a spreadsheet, but also triggers that can initiate applets when a new row is added to a spreadsheet or a specific cell is updated.
Cloud storage integration is an important dimension of IFTTT, since many other IFTTT services can provide data such as photo and status information, and many users find it easier to write this data to cloud storage rather than receiving dozens of emails to collect the information. In part two we’ll take a closer look at some of the things you can do with these four cloud storage services and IFTTT, and even offer some tips on how users of the more IFTTT-limited Amazon Cloud Drive and OneDrive services can still take advantage of more advanced features.