Uploading with a portable rclone?

I have a few terabytes of encrypted material I need uploaded to Google Drive. My home upload is 20Mbps. The university library nearby has about 500Mbps.

I use a desktop (windows), which is my main mount. However, when going to the library I would use my laptop (mac). How would I go about doing this? Is there a portable version of Rclone? Would I need it installed on my Mac? Would it matter that I'm copying the files from an external drive?

I thing only u need is your rclone config file from ur main mount.
This file will be like rclone.conf

And copy this file yo ur mac rclone config directory.

The answer to your question depends on where the current pile of data physically is. I'm also assuming your goal is to:

  1. Get the big pile of data onto the Google Drive, then
  2. Continue keeping it synchronized with something like rclone from then on

Correct? It is NOT likely that rclone is required - or desired - as an intermediary for the 1st step: just use the drag-n-drop upload function after you've logged in to your Google Drive account in a browser. (This can avoid an rclone "middleman" when establishing the 1st bulk upload of data from your PC environment.) rclone is great for subsequent change-by-change synchronization between local files and the Google Drive bulk store.

If the few TBy of data is on your home PC or in-house network, then - in the absence of a couple of TBy of removable storage - you will suffer the 20 Mbps bottleneck regardless. You'd do:
PC → 20Mbps drag-n-drop upload → Google
PC → 20Mbps local network copy → Mac@library
→ 500Mbps drag-n-drop upload → Google

If you have a USB "disk on a leash" drive big enough, copy to it, schlep the portable drive to where the better bandwidth is, and then upload after making the drive available on the Mac's desktop:
1. multi-TBy USB disk-on-a-leash → plug into local PC →
local copy directory tree → O(1Gbps) USB transfer copy → USB disk
→ safe remove the external disk
2. carry the disk to the library & your Mac ("sneakernet" has
ridiculously high bandwidth)
3. plug USB disk into MAC → use MacOS' ability to work w/ FAT32 / exFAT disks →
open Google Drive in Mac Browser → drag-n-drop to Google Drive window →
O(500Mbps) from library network → Google Drive

Am I missing - or misinterpreting - anything?

  1. install rclone on the mac
  2. copy the rclone.conf files from windows to mac
  3. run rclone on mac.
  4. you can an external drive, no problems.
  5. you would need to have two rclone commands, one for windows, one for mac.

I am not sure it suits your use case, but it is possible to keep the Rclone "installation" on an external drive. Rclone is portable in the sense of "cross platform" but also in the sense of "PortableApp". It does not need to be installed other than to download and extract the program files to a folder. It can also keep its configuration locally, see https://rclone.org/docs/#config-config-file. This means if you have an external drive where you keep your data, you can keep Rclone on it too:

  1. Download Rclone for Windows and for Mac and extract to a folder of choice on your external drive. Rclone is single executable so you only need the one file from each download (i.e. rclone.exe on Windows).
  2. Move your existing configuration rclone.conf to the same folder (or create a new empty file with that name to start from scratch).

That's it. Now you can run rclone commands from the folder where your executable is, it will read and write the configuration file in the same folder. So when this is on an external drive you will get the configuration along with you.

Note 1: I am not familiar with Mac, so there might be restrictions that makes this approach not work as it does on Windows.

Note 2: There might be security considerations regarding passwords stored in the configuration file, when this is on an external drive you carry around with you. Then you could consider encrypting (password protecting) the configuration, see https://rclone.org/docs/#configuration-encryption.

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