Mozilla ran a cloud storage download experiment in Firefox - gHacks Tech News

Mozilla ran a cloud storage download experiment in Firefox

Is it a good idea to integrate options to save Internet files directly to cloud storage providers? That's a question that Mozilla tried to answer in a recent Shield experiment that it ran.

The traditional method to download files using web browsers is to save them to the local system. One reason for that is that web browsers don't include options to store files directly in the cloud.

Extensions may add functionality to save files directly to the cloud. Google's Save to Google Drive extension for Google Chrome has more than 5.6 million users, but that is the exception.

The main question that Mozilla tried to answer was whether Firefox users would like to see an "save to cloud storage" feature in the browser.

The goal of the Cloud Storage experiment is to evaluate whether there is a market fit for integrating the Firefox download feature with one of the existing cloud storage providers (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive).

Mozilla selected 1% of the Firefox 60+ release population that used the en-US locale for the study. A prompt was displayed to all users selected for the study so that users could decline the experiment.

Firefox users who took part in the study saw an updated download panel that would include options to save the download to one of the connected cloud storage providers.

firefox save to cloud storage

Firefox users could push the file to the cloud storage immediately or download it to the local system instead.

Study participants could move local downloads to the cloud with a right-click on the downloaded file in the Firefox download panel and the selection of one of the connected providers.

firefox cloud

Icons were attached to downloads saved to cloud storage providers to distinguish them from local downloads.

Firefox users who took part in the study could select a cloud provider as default storage to always save downloads to the cloud.

The key findings

Google Drive and Dropbox were the two most used cloud storage services followed by iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive.

Mozilla asked all participants questions and about 70% of them said that they would "choose to keep" the feature and 10% of study participants switched the default download behavior to a cloud provider.

The "move" feature that allowed users to move local downloads to a selected cloud provider was not used by many participants.

Closing Words

It remains to be seen how (and if) Mozilla will react on the findings of the study. Will we see the save to cloud storage option integrated into Firefox natively in the future?

Mozilla did reveal that the integration may open up new business opportunities.

Now You: Would you find the option useful?

Summary
Mozilla ran a cloud storage download experiment in Firefox
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Mozilla ran a cloud storage download experiment in Firefox
Description
Is it a good idea to integrate options to save Internet files directly to cloud storage providers? Mozilla's Firefox study has a potential answer.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Comments

  1. rip said on November 7, 2018 at 9:42 pm
    Reply

    I think it’s a good idea, when done right. Of course we are giving Firefox more knowledge of our storage configurations and possibly credential information. Still I trust Mozilla more than the rest of the crowd!

  2. Yuliya said on November 7, 2018 at 9:44 pm
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    At which point do you stop, whatever it is that you are doing as a developer, and ask yourself the question “is this really what my userbase wants?”? I don’t buy the “”power” user” vs “average user” argument, and that this is targeted more towards the said average user, because clearly no user agrees with the direction you’re heading towards. Fact: imgur.com/p3qJljw

    1. Klaas Vaak said on November 8, 2018 at 11:46 am
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      @Yuliya: you stated: “…. as a developer, and ask yourself the question “is this really what my userbase wants?” ”

      That is exactly what Mozilla did with this test. Instead of introducing a new feature out of the blue, they asked a sample of users. You can quibble with the representativeness of the sample (I cannot assess that), but how can you argue with the principle? This is exactly what you tell them to do !

    2. user17843 said on November 8, 2018 at 12:59 pm
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      @Yuliya: Developers don’t make decisions. Management does.

      The management has a locked-in contract with Yahoo that pays them around $350 million until the end of 2019, regardless of how many users they have.

      That means only in 2020 does Mozilla needs to start monetizing on all levels. And this is what they are slowly preparing the browser for, to push affiliate links into everything.

      Also the management sees Firefox as a cash cow to finance their political activities around the world.

      Those people don’t care about Firefox, they only see what they can do with the money it generates: fighting for women, minorities, privacy, equality, etc.

      1. Klaas Vaak said on November 8, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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        @user17843: those are noble causes to fight for, if those are really the causes they fight for.

      2. user17843 said on November 8, 2018 at 3:05 pm
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        Maybe it’s noble, but it explains the lack of focus. When you no longer hire based on merit, it is only natural that efficiency suffers.

      3. Klaas Vaak said on November 8, 2018 at 3:09 pm
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        @user17843: how do you know that that explains the lack of focus? Have you studied Mozilla’s business in detail?

      4. anonymous said on November 9, 2018 at 2:12 am
        Reply
      5. Klaas Vaak said on November 9, 2018 at 6:38 am
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        @anonymous: the article clearly shows that Brendan’s comments and donation were done on a personal basis, NOT as Mozilla CEO. Furthermore, the article is 4 years old.

        I am not saying Mozilla has not lost focus, I am asking: what concrete evidence is there? The only thing you came up with is an article that does not answer my question.

      6. anonymous said on November 9, 2018 at 11:00 pm
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        Mozilla forced him to resign over his personal donation. How is that not losing focus?

      7. Klaas Vaak said on November 10, 2018 at 9:18 am
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        @anonymous: the supervisory board, or whoever fired him, took a purely political decision, nothing to do with the business model at the time or Brendan’s losing focus. Whatever a person does privately is none of the supervisory’s business. Period.

        Whomever they appointed next would have made sure his donations would not come under political scrutiny and he would have carried on with the business model at that time. That business model may have changed since then, but a political firing of 4 years ago does not prove that Mozilla is not focused now.

        So, I repeat my question: what proves that Mozilla is not focused in 2018?

      8. Tom Hawack said on November 8, 2018 at 3:39 pm
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        @user17843, I’d rather say when you no longer hire only on qualification but as well (if not before all) on merit for foreign causes such as societal activities (if this is factual) then there will be a problem. I don’t think businesses should have political activities in the same way artists spreading their political views has always bothered me. Philanthropy is different. So if Mozilla is involved in political activities as you write it, which I ignored, then I’d start wondering if indeed their software might not be getting out of their first preoccupations elsewhere focused.

        Versatility, flexibility. Banks go into insurance business, insurances open their banks, software developers fight for a better world (theirs most of the time) and maybe tomorrow we’ll have politicians developing their own applications (I don’t know, Blue, Red, Tea browsers bringing the best of their ideas right into the navigator? Splendid)

      9. Anonymous said on November 9, 2018 at 8:58 pm
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        “Those people don’t care about Firefox, they only see what they can do with the money it generates: fighting for women, minorities, privacy, equality, etc.”

        That’s absolutely ridiculous, this is not how corporations work, it’s exactly the opposite. They don’t care about social causes, they only use them to polish their public face to make more money at the end with gullible consumers. And selling the browser to search engines like Google and Yahoo, and slowly turning it into a spyware converting browsing history into advertisers’ cash for Mozilla is not fighting for privacy, it’s exactly the opposite. Their contribution to social progress is negligible compared to the damage they did the the free software community ethical standards and society in general.

      10. user17843 said on November 10, 2018 at 12:20 pm
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        @Anonymous

        I suggest you read the “Internet Health Report” by Mozilla. Then you will understand what happens at Mozilla. Of course they are in it for the money, but mainly want the money for political campaigns.

        I think it is very important to shed light on the cultural myths of Mozilla, because if they are successful, they will actually make the web a worse place.

        Why?

        Because the report is biased, and their claims are not backed up by sources.

        In the report they write about their usual biases. According to Mozilla the following groups are victims:

        – Women
        – non-binary people
        – LGBTQ people
        – People of color
        – People in developed countries

        Who are the offenders? Of course, white (western) men are!

        One example:

        Mozilla writes that in Africa, more men then women participate in the web and claim this is an example of suppressing women. How can someone claim that? Where is the data to back this claim up?

        Then they write that in America more women than men use the internet. But suddenly this isn’t an example of suppressed men, but an example of equality and diversity.

        In reality, the actual studies show that it is women who use the web primarily for socialising and buying things, while men use it more for research and reading. The research also shows that women have the majority share of buying power in the west. But those facts are no longer allowed in Mozilla’s world.

        Then you look at the staff at Mozilla and you realize that their work culture has become entranched in this diversity myths, which means they preferably hire everyone who isn’t a white male.

        Additionally they claim that fake news is a big problem, without backing it up with sources either. But they want it to be true, to victimize users.

        It’s important to come back to this general issues when Mozilla does something that seems absurd from the outside, since their decisions are based on

        1) fighting for “good things”/virtue signaling
        2) transitioning the browser to prepare for a loss of revenue in 2020

      11. Klaas Vaak said on November 10, 2018 at 3:08 pm
        Reply

        @user17843: so the solution for you is simple: stop using Firefox so you don’t need to worry about whether Mozilla is focused on the right or wrong things. I doubt that whining about it will change anything.

      12. Tom Hawack said on November 10, 2018 at 3:35 pm
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        Personally (for whom might be interested!) I don’t really care of a developer’s deep motivations and inner ethics as long as the job is done, in the same way I prefer a politician handle a country correctly (that is: within my aspirations) whatever his personal life and even money saved for the old days in whatever fiscal paradise… than a man/woman all of honesty, integrity but obviously unqualified for the job. Ideal is of course both best and hell both worst, as always. I’m not voting for a pope but for a manager, in the same way I focus on an application/software not on the developer’s morality and way of life.

      13. Klaas Vaak said on November 10, 2018 at 3:57 pm
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        @Tom Hawack: +1

      14. Anonymous said on November 11, 2018 at 5:44 pm
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        “in the same way I prefer a politician handle a country correctly (that is: within my aspirations) whatever his personal life and even money saved for the old days in whatever fiscal paradise…”

        Poorly chosen example, as a politician with lots of money in a fiscal paradise, presumably from corruption, has handled a country according to the interests of those who gave him that money, not yours.

      15. Tom Hawack said on November 11, 2018 at 6:55 pm
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        @Anonymous, “as a politician with lots of money in a fiscal paradise, presumably from corruption[…].

        Presumably indeed. I don’t condemn on the basis of presumptions and such a weird approach is not that of democracies (in theory anyway). We’ve had politicians (here in France but elsewhere maybe) who’s fortunes were that of a family patrimony and had been managed off-shore to avoid the income. I have that in mind. Now, if there has been corruption assuming it as you do is frightening.

      16. Anonymous said on November 12, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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        “I don’t condemn on the basis of presumptions and such a weird approach is not that of democracies”

        My only presumption, a reasonable one, was that you were instead talking about the more common situation of politicians hiding corruption money, I never implied that people should be jailed with no proof, don’t be ridiculous.

      17. Tom Hawack said on November 12, 2018 at 1:10 pm
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        @Anonymous, you were presuming. In fact you were presuming a politician’s wealth provided by corruption, now you presume what I was talking about. In fact as many you interpret what is written according to your beliefs. But there’s worse : some don’t even mention that they are presuming; at least you did. Score: B- … this smile just to point out that I’m aware I may sound scholastic when the truth is I happen to get fed up with people reading what you haven’t wrote, hearing what you haven’t said.

      18. Anonymous said on November 12, 2018 at 3:03 pm
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        Then I disagree with your very naive political belief that money hidden by politicians is mostly honestly earned money. Sorry for initially presuming that you weren’t that naive, my bad. As for democracy, corruption and the people like you denying its prevalence are what destroy it, not me stating the obvious. But let’s agree that we disagree.

      19. Anonymous said on November 12, 2018 at 4:01 pm
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        @Anonymous,

        have I wrote — have I actually wrote — that money hidden by politicians is mostly honestly earned money? No.

        have I wrote — have I actually wrote — that money hidden by politicians is mostly fraudulently earned money? No.

        Speculation is demagogy and demagogy is speculation.

        To summarize, I don’t subscribe — but not at all — that politicians or anyone else should be exemplary; this requirement is making its way and is relevant of a morality dictatorship I just cannot stand. As long as one’s private life has no incidence on one’s talent and honesty in the very sphere of his professional life I just don’t give a damn and I even consider linking both is dangerous. Of course corruption is critical because by nature it links both. In the same way i’d be cautious about a “secretary of state to women’s condition” should evidence be established that the man is sexist and/or spends his free time with prostitutes, to take a raw example. But when private and public life are clearly distinct, let everyone live his life as he wants to, not my concern, not my problem (even if it may be his) : as long as the job is done, and well done is all that matters to me.

      20. Anonymous said on November 11, 2018 at 1:27 pm
        Reply

        “Of course they are in it for the money, but mainly want the money for political campaigns.”

        How much of the money goes in Mozilla people’s pockets, and how much is used for political campaigns ? It’s mostly cheap words that hardly changed anything, unlike what their code does. I doubt that it diverts a significant amount of resources.

        You make the common mistake of reducing the actual effect of a company on society, to what it says in its public relations campaigns. That’s what those campaigns exist for. In your case, being manifestly of a US republican party political sensitivity or similar, this was counterproductive for them. But still mostly unrelated to what their actual effect on society is.

        I agree with your unrelated point 2) however, they are dropping all ethical considerations in finding ways to finance themselves, and this is why people should hate them, not because of political statements devoid of any real consequence, positive or negative.

  3. Supergirl said on November 7, 2018 at 9:52 pm
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    Absolutely Not…I Trust NO business to be honest.
    Or to operate in anyone else’s best interest.

    Eventually they will sneak in a clause that all files on their ‘cloud’ are their property.

    Large entities are becoming a cancer on the ‘net & an ill for society.

  4. John Fenderson said on November 7, 2018 at 10:23 pm
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    “Would you find the option useful?”

    No, saving to the cloud has no benefits for me.

  5. Anonymous said on November 7, 2018 at 11:31 pm
    Reply

    “Mozilla did reveal that the integration may open up new business opportunities.”

    Sure, now sell your users to privacy hostile cloud storage services. Typical Mozilla. One more piece of code to remove.

  6. Tom Hawack said on November 8, 2018 at 1:22 am
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    An option to download files to a cloud storage? Not for myself, for two reasons,

    1.1- I’m not a cloud storage aficionado, to put it mildly because it’s getting late;
    1.2– I don’t even use Firefox’s Sync (disabled with Policy templates);
    2- I don’t need such a tool (Home-PC user) and if I sleep elsewhere it’s not to relay there my data.

    (Reason 1.2 to illustrate reason 1.1 so it soesn’t count… looks like i’m getting sleepy).

    But besides little old me remains quite a lot of users to what I’ve been told and for those whome such an option may come in useful : be it said, I’m not against, they have my benediction.
    Stay in peace while I peacefully go sleeping.

  7. 420 said on November 8, 2018 at 2:30 am
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    Mozilla, figuring out new and innovative ways to lose more customer base.

  8. beefsquid & frito said on November 8, 2018 at 2:52 am
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    70% of 1% is only 0.7%. That’s only 0.7% of all en-US users. I’m sure that’ll be enough for Mozilla to greenlight it. It’s probably more of something they want.

    Martin: Do they plan to run further tests with larger pool of users?

    If not then this “study” seems like it wasn’t really meant to find out what MOST users want baked in. I’m not necessarily for or against it (maybe more against it, if I’m honest) but this just doesn’t seem like an honest attempt at sampling the user base.

  9. fimmwolf said on November 8, 2018 at 3:40 am
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    I just discovered firefox also has a ‘send’ site where you can upload up to a 1GB file and send the url to a friend. Like snapchat, the file no longer exists once it’s been downloaded once. The site also encrypts the file.

    https://send.firefox.com

  10. ULBoom said on November 8, 2018 at 3:58 am
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    No value at all. I already have secure storage spaces my email provider offers that are used so those to whom I give links to particular files can access them. I trust a subscription encrypted email service; I don’t trust mozilla, google, microsoft or any of the other data brokers. Anything of any size takes forever to access, too.

    “Downloading to the cloud” doesn’t even make sense, it’s a file transfer if you never get the thing locally. Tech continues to make up stuff; do they think people live in clouds because tech lives in a bubble?

    1. Anonymous said on November 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm
      Reply

      > “Downloading to the cloud” doesn’t even make sense

      Improved speeds, perhaps?

      Additionally, in this case, the cloud provider’s servers download the file…

      1. John Fenderson said on November 8, 2018 at 7:19 pm
        Reply

        @Anonymous: “Improved speeds, perhaps?”

        How would this improve speeds? Assuming that you’ll want that download on your machine eventually, all introducing the cloud does is add another two network hops and an additional system into the download sequence. That can only make the entire process slower, not faster.

  11. lehnerus2000 said on November 8, 2018 at 4:11 am
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    I notice that dialogue implies that you can only save to the Cloud.
    Similar to the way that the original W8 & W10 installers implied you had to have an MS online account.

    IMO, “Not Now” != “Save to Your PC”.

  12. Anonymous said on November 8, 2018 at 4:29 am
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    Seems like it just save file temporarily to local and reupload the file on the background?

  13. TelV said on November 8, 2018 at 2:52 pm
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    I’m more concerned about the privacy issue with cloud servers. Dropbox experienced a major privacy breach in 2012 during which 68 million user passwords were leaked to the Internet according to The Guardian newspaper: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/31/dropbox-hack-passwords-68m-data-breach

    Google Drive also suffered a similar breach a year later although in this particular case it was Google itself which was siphoning up users data without their permission: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/technology/google-pays-fine-over-street-view-privacy-breach.html

    If it can happen once it can happen again.

    I backup my own data to local storage devices which I keep at home. The only way a breach would occur in these circumstances would be if someone broke into my home and stole the devices. The chances of that happening are minimal compared with cloud storage. Also, I don’t have to go online in order to access my files.

    1. Tom Hawack said on November 8, 2018 at 3:18 pm
      Reply

      @TelV, of course I acknowledge the information you recall but nevertheless Mozilla’s project here concerns cloud storage for downloading files from the web which is potentially less privacy related than storing one’s confidential data, unless to consider that what we download means what we like means another item in fulfilling a user’s profile. To paraphrase CNN’s Richard Quest (~”It’s now how much money you have it’s what you do with it”), it’s not the little you know of someone it’s what you do with it : added info brings life to an unknown’s life, indeed.

      1. TelV said on November 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm
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        @Tom Hawack,

        OK, I get your drift, but files users are downloading can also be considered sensitive such as adult content in mp4 format for example.

  14. 420 said on November 8, 2018 at 5:17 pm
    Reply

    cloud storage = your data on someones server somewhere, why would anyone think that is a good idea?

  15. stefann said on November 8, 2018 at 11:32 pm
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    Still on 52.9.0 ESR (not allowed to update at all – update file removed from install folder) where i on and off fake the user agent on some sites. Still works very great. Won’t upgrade to the BS named “Quantom” – my addons are too important !

  16. John Doe 101 said on November 9, 2018 at 10:53 am
    Reply

    Cloudstorage?

    Oh man, yeeees, that’s what we all need, cos there are no USB Sticks and no external Harddrives available?

    Mozilla, where are you going?

  17. Klaas Vaak said on November 9, 2018 at 12:07 pm
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    @John Doe: you may not be aware of it but some people like save their data in the cloud as a precaution against their house/apartment going up in flames, and those USBs, hard drives, computer disappearing with it.
    So, please explain what is so awful with Mozilla offering the possibility to save your data in a cloud of your choice.

  18. Klaas Vaak said on November 9, 2018 at 12:22 pm
    Reply

    A good initiative by Mozilla, but not quite right …. yet. Mozilla should give the user the option to store the info in a cloud of her/his choice – the option should be limited to Dropbox or Google Drive.

  19. 4711 said on November 9, 2018 at 11:44 pm
    Reply

    From a reliable source I learned that there is already a reserved spot for Firefox in the software museum.

  20. Tau said on November 10, 2018 at 12:33 pm
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    Does this save “directly” in the online storage or just saves it locally and then uploads it? I can see using the former for work without downloading loads of stuff I may never need, but if the latter is the case then it’s pointless. Could be midly interesting if they added a support for multiple “cloud” storage like they do with search engines.

    1. Tom Hawack said on November 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm
      Reply

      @Tau, as I understand it Mozilla’s cloud storage download would save directly on line; imagine a double task otherwise, first having the file downloaded locally and then uploaded to Mozilla servers, that would be nonsense IMO.

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