Sneak Peek at Firefox's cloud storage integration study

Martin Brinkmann
May 28, 2018

Mozilla plans to run a Shield study soon in Firefox to gather data on user interest in regards to integrating cloud storage services in Firefox's downloads panel.

Many Internet users have access to cloud storage; those with Google or Microsoft accounts have it, and services like Dropbox ensure that anyone may sign-up for cloud storage to upload files to the Internet to sync it between devices, access it online, or share it.

While you may use web browsers to access cloud storage, none offer any form of native integration of cloud storage services.

Services created extensions in the past, for instance Dropbox for Gmail for Chrome, which integrate these services into browsers.

Mozilla's planned Shield study for the Firefox web browser is an attempt to find out whether users of the browser would like to have certain cloud storage services integrated into the browser in some regards.

firefox cloud storage downloads

The study is delivered as a WebExtension that adds options to Firefox's downloads panel to move downloads to the local cloud storage folder.

It is an opt-in study which means that Firefox users need to explicitly give consent to join the study. The main requirement for the study is that users need to have supported cloud sync software installed on the device Firefox runs on.

The context menu that Firefox displays when you right-click on downloads in the downloads panel has a new "move to" option. You may use it to move the download to cloud storage services installed on the machine, or to move it back to the local folder depending on where the download is located at the time.

Firefox users may set the folder of the cloud storage provider as the default in Firefox next to that so that downloads are saved to that folder automatically from that moment on.

Closing Words

I have to admit that I don't see a real benefit to the integration as you can configure Firefox right now to save all or some downloads to cloud storage folders already. The integration may make it easier for users to move downloaded files to the cloud storage folder on the device though; Firefox users who know where the folder is located can move any downloaded file manually to the folder either.

That's my personal view on this, however; Mozilla runs the study to find out whether interest is there and that is definitely better than integrating a new feature in Firefox without knowing if a large enough part of the userbase wants or needs it.

You can follow the bug here. The study is not the only download related change in Firefox. The browser will highlight the most recent download soon on the New Tab Page.

Now You: Would you like to see better integration of cloud services in browsers?

Now Read: How to download Firefox offline installers and how to customize file downloads in Firefox

Sneak Peek at Firefox's cloud storage integration study
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Sneak Peek at Firefox's cloud storage integration study
Mozilla plans to run a Shield study soon in Firefox to gather data on user interest in regards to integrating cloud storage services in Firefox's downloads panel.
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  1. JOHNMAYOR said on September 25, 2018 at 6:45 am

    I loathe Cloud Storage!… and for the reasons espoused by Professor Richard Stallman! I’m wondering… at this point… whether sundry at Firefox even know who Richard Stallman is!
    Please!… no emails!… or storage of personal data!

  2. John Fenderson said on May 30, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    “Would you like to see better integration of cloud services in browsers?”

    I don’t care.

    I consider using cloud services to be risky (for multiple reasons) and so I don’t use them. The level of integration between the browser and the cloud does not affect me.

  3. hihiho said on May 29, 2018 at 9:55 am

    Mozilla CEO in 2020:

    “Think of Firefox like healthy food. Think of it like broccoli. No one likes it, but everyone needs it. So you have to force people to use it. Unfortunately people didn’t want to hear they need broccoli. So you see why everything is the user’s fault. Everything. And we couldn’t compete with Chrome, since we we were also busy saving the whole internet. So it’s a bit unfair to compare us with anything besides broccoli.”

  4. ha said on May 29, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Goooooooooogleee thanks Mozilla for keep adding useless things to bloat the browser.

  5. Rush said on May 28, 2018 at 8:55 pm




  6. SuperSaiyan said on May 28, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    If Mozilla built cars –

    Users: We want faster acceleration, better gas mileage, don’t mess with our aftermarket parts, and please fix that leaky transmission that’s been broken since forever.

    Mozilla: I know, let’s add more choices of leather seat covers, floor mats, and add 0.001 cubic inches more glove compartment space.

    Users: please can you do the stuff we asked for first?

    8 years later…

    Mozilla: let’s “redesign” our car to look like our competitor’s car, replace everybody’s radio with our own “not sponsored” radio that we totally “don’t make any money from”, and turn on a bunch of “experimental” stuff without telling people.

    Users: starts shopping for other cars

    Mozilla: ooh ooh – heated cup holders! numerical gas tank monitors! factory integrated fuzzy dice!

    Users: swtiches to Chrome or Waterfox.

  7. John Doe 101 said on May 28, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Back on FF 52.7.0 ESR, works as expected.

  8. Mikhoul said on May 28, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    More Mozilla bloat…

  9. Jed said on May 28, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I personally would love to see this feature integrated.

  10. Anonymous said on May 28, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Tor is gone :{

  11. justice said on May 28, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Firefox continue their drive to alienate their traditional power users. Way to go Mozilla

  12. John said on May 28, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I’d prefer not to see this.

    1. It duplicates pre-existing file system and cloud application capabilities that allow you to send your downloaded files to the cloud, cluttering up Firefox menus and making it more difficult to find what one actually wants to do amid all the other stuff.

    I would suggest that an extension model is a better fit. If you use a cloud provider and want it integrated into your browser, you simply install the extension instead of creating friction between users and their intended action (probably not this) within the browser.

    2. This would effectively be a defacto form of in-browser advertising. I’m not saying that Mozilla would be paid for these placements by any means, I’m suggesting that having brand name services that require monthly service fees (If subscribed to) in a browser’s dropdown menu means the end user is exposed to and reminded of the brand name and its service’s availability everytime one enters the context menu.

    Ah, but this only shows the services you do use based on the apps you’ve installed, you say? Well, isn’t Onedrive now integrated into Windows? How about GDrive into Android? Though you can disable both services from both operating systems, it seems likely that the program is still there and would still generate an entry in these new Mozilla menu options even if one “turns off” Onedrive in Windows or “disables” the Gdrive app in Android. Similarly, Apple has a cloud service for their phones and computers, the name of which escapes me.

    So, it seems to me that on most devices and platforms, even someone who doesn’t use a cloud service will see this in their Firefox installation (If implemented beyond the testing period/group by Mozilla).

    Also, one may be using the service for a specific purpose that would never involve transferring files from the browser in this way- mirroring a local folder, making photos from one’s phone available on one’s computer for archiving and storing, or self-curated backups of files that one may organize through the file system or the program/app the cloud service offers.

    The Pocket stuff is bad enough. Mozilla’s userbase tells them again and again, hey, keep our browsers free of this stuff. Let people install extensions of they want it.

    The choice to use Firefox often initially came from the desire to use an Ad-Blocking add-on when Microsoft Internet Explorer was dominent and didn’t allow them (On Android, this can currently often be a key reason to pick Firefox over Chrome). In more recent times, it can be due to a user not liking Google Chrome’s tight perceived relationship with advertisements and integration and cross promotion between its own services, as well as its lack of concern for user privacy.

    This is a small thing, but I think cumulatively, Mozilla does a lot of things that undermine the perception of itself it should wish to, and sometimes actively promotes, creating. The idea is that Firefox is a small independent browser that lets you break free of ads and integration of things you don’t like- that its a foundation and avoids always going after your privacy and your pocketbook. Yet, one downloads Firefox and there are usually some things that seem to be promoting things in some ways or compromising privacy- less often and less severely than most of the competition, but perhaps not to the point where it can draw a clean black and white distinction and say “We don’t do that stuff” that users and potential users can all fully buy into with ease.

    I would also suggest that the likely iser group for Mozilla is probably at least a little less into the cloud than users of other browsers. Other browser companies are also ad and/or servixes companies in some cases and have an interest in pushing you to the cloud- either directly to their service that they charge you for, or just because the more of your computing time that you are actively engaging in Internet activity, the better they can construct advertising profiles of you and the more ads they can expose you to.

    Oftentimes this pushes users to say that they as might as well switch to the leading competitor if they are going to get a similar push from all the browsers, or to go the other way and be pushed to an obscure smaller browser (Often forks) that emphasize what they want more.

  13. Sam said on May 28, 2018 at 9:24 am

    The funny thing with FF is that it keeps integrating stuffs that nobody cares about (hello etc) or stuffs that should be opted in (pocket etc.) or stuffs that are much better done by existing addons (screenshot etc.), and keeps ignoring stuffs that users want. Their studies seem to serve their pre-determined goals rather than users.

    1. Jack said on June 5, 2018 at 7:37 am

      “stuff” is plural.

  14. Yuliya said on May 28, 2018 at 8:36 am

    I have this issue with Firefox where it starts using CPU resources for no reason at all. It can use an entire core at its fullest capacity. Extremely annoying, I only have one extension, uB0, and it happens without it too. It happens on a clean profile too. And I see it happening daily.

    Another problem, happening less frequently, is whenever dealing with large images (huge, 100MPx, 10000x10000px, etc), after being done with them, Process Explorer indicates sereverily high GPU usage on the Firefox’s process, 100% more precisely. There are many ways of monitoring the GPU usage, so it’s not really 100%, but whatever PE is monitoring by default, Fx uses it at 100%.

    These two issues are not present in Firefox 52. They started happening when I switched to 57-58 in January as my main browser, and they are still happening right now. I often have to restart Firefox, two, maybe three times a day, because it is hogging my CPU. Using it becomes a pain in the ass. There is no better browser to switch to, because I would gladly do it, but this alone does not make Firefox a good product. It is horrible. And the people behind it are absolutely insane if they think this is good behaviour and they focus their attention towards.. cloud integration. I am at a loss for words.

    1. Jack said on June 5, 2018 at 7:35 am

      Every Mozilla based browser (Firefox, Pale Moon, Kmeleon) has had a problem releasing memory. There’s a reason there are addons that restart after so it grows too large.

    2. Bob Hill said on May 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Yuliya, Thank you for posting this – I also get your first symptom exactly as you describe,
      currently on Firefox 60 on Windows 7 32-bit. Is your Firefox on Windows, Mac or Linux? Bob.

      1. Yuliya said on May 30, 2018 at 11:51 am

        Bob, I use 64-bit Firefox (for both ESR52 and 60) on Windows 7.

      2. Bob Hill said on May 30, 2018 at 1:30 pm

        Yuliya, Thank you for your feedback – so now we know that Firefox Quantum suddenly hogs a CPU core
        (and must be restarted) one or more times a day on Windows 7 in both 32 and 64 bit versions.

        Maybe a cryptocurrency miner? But then why not also in FF52 ESR? And why only after using Firefox
        for some hours? A miner would presumably have to make contact with some kind of server from time to
        time, but I could see no such TCP connections while letting Firefox hog a CPU core for maybe 15
        minutes (using ProcExp and/or TcpView, both downloaded from Microsoft’s “Sysinternals” site).

        Maybe a Firefox bug? Maybe a bug in Firefox’s memory management? This might explain why CPU core
        hogging only occurs after using Firefox for a few hours – as time goes on Firefox’s memory gets more
        and more fragmented, and at some point some buggy code can’t cope and starts going round in circles?
        While Firefox is still working I occasionally go to “about:memory” and do a “Minimize memory usage”
        (sometimes two or even three times on the trot) to minimize Firefox’s “Memory (Private Working Set)”
        in Windows Task Manager, in the hope of delaying the CPU core hog. I like to think it helps a bit.

        Do you have any ideas? Bob.

      3. Yuliya said on May 30, 2018 at 2:52 pm

        I have no idea what it might be, and judging the lack of any resolution from developers I believe neither Mozilla uderstands what is happening. They broke something down the road and even they can’t figure out what it is. I don’t believe it’s anything malicious*, it’s just bad programming.

        That, coupled with severe memory management issues:
        ESR52 x64 + 10 extensions = 200-250MB fresh start, after browsing for a while 600MB of RAM
        60 x64 + 1 extension = 400MB fresh start, after browsing for a while 1,2GB of RAM

        After browsing for a while, I don’t mean anything crazy, nothing more than 10-12 tabs. Fx v60 does not seem to discard used memory on tab close. Rarely I see v60 starting to use less memory once it reaches a threshold.

        Removal of XUL promised a better, faster, slimmer, lighter browser. I’m not experiencing anything of that. v60 is heavier, less flexible, more prone to crashing, and ultimately not faster in any situation when compared to v52.

        * (well, at least when it comes to this particular issue, I do believe however things like Pocket and other shenanigans Mozilla pulled lately, including associations with companies involved in tracking, installing extensions without user consent, etc to be malicious (behaviour))

      4. Bob Hill said on May 30, 2018 at 8:51 pm

        Yuliya, Many thanks for your thoughts, all of which make sense to me too. Bob.

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