In this digital age, cloud storage is an indispensable part of our lives. Whether it is for collecting memories, sharing files, or keeping your work synced across multiple platforms or devices - we all need it, we all use it. From a business perspective, however, it is simply more than that - which we will see during the course of this review.
Well, when we hear cloud storage, we often hear Dropbox. Of course! It pioneered the cloud storage and file-sharing space. And compared to the competition, it also has more to offer but it comes with a huge caveat - the price.
So, in this review let’s find out if it is worth the big bucks at all.
What is Dropbox?
Dropbox is a cloud-based file-hosting solution that supports file storage, syncing, sharing, and a lot more. In addition to personal use, it is widely used by businesses and teams for collaboration.
Since its inception in 2008, it has consistently evolved with the introduction of new features. And even today, as Dropbox faces fierce competition, it still is a market leader. Let’s take a quick look at some of its salient features and what you can do in Dropbox. And also, the features you will miss!
Dropbox is one of the best options out there to store and back up your files on the cloud, personal or business. It means that they are stored on remote servers instead of being just on your local device. They can be accessed anytime, anywhere, and on multiple devices – all you need is a Dropbox account login and an active Internet connection.
Of all the cloud-based file-hosting services, Dropbox offers remarkably fast speed when uploading or downloading files. Also, as the company claims, no compression is applied to the process. Impressive, right?
To ensure that you can access your files on all your devices, Dropbox has a powerful sync system in place. In particular, there are these two sync features or options – Selective Sync and Smart Sync.
With Selective Sync, you get to choose which folders are to be synchronized. On the contrary, Smart Sync lets you select which files you want to be stored both on the local device and the cloud – or strictly on the cloud. And when needed, these cloud-only files can be downloaded to the local device with just a double-click. This feature helps save the local space and is seldom seen in other cloud storage services. Also, when a file is edited, the latest version is synced to the linked devices, with the version history safely saved on the cloud.
But wait, there is more. Dropbox uses block-level synchronization, which means that files are broken down into small parts and only the edited parts are synced – making the file sync process faster and more efficient.
Sharing Dropbox files and folders with others is a breeze. Here is how it works:
When you share a file, you are given the option to either directly email the invite or generate a unique shareable link. In terms of file sharing, Dropbox gives users a lot of flexibility and control. For example, you can either set the shared files as read-only or allow others to edit them. If you are on a professional or business plan, you can even set passwords and expiration dates for the shared links. Further, you can disable downloads on the shared files, preventing the recipient from locally saving them.
Through the power of integration, which we will discuss separately, users can even share Dropbox files from within select third-party apps like Slack or Trello.
Most of us are no strangers to the frustration of accidentally deleting or editing important files. Mistakes happen. But to ensure that your data is protected against such accidents, Dropbox has a recovery feature - Dropbox Rewind. It allows you to restore files for up to 30 days – or even 180 days, depending on your plan.
Rewind can be a life-saver but when compared to other competitors, it is sort of a bittersweet feature. For example, Sync.com allows its users to recover lost files for up to one year.
Dropbox Paper is a note-taking app integrated into Dropbox. It is a good option for you if you don’t want to use third-party integration tools. Dropbox Paper allows you to create notes and share them with others on the go. You can even use it to easily manage tasks with to-do lists.
Now be warned that it does not rival the likes of Google Workspace or Office 365. But it is inside Dropbox if you need it.
In this age of remote work, it is good to see Dropbox keep up with the changing times. The platform offers a feature called Spaces which is in the early stages of development. It is a virtual workplace where teams can share files, formulate strategies, and log meetings.
Dropbox’s collaboration capabilities make it an attractive option for businesses and teams. In its collaborative space, users can easily add tables, images, PDFs, GIFs, emoji, videos, links, and even code if needed. Teams can share work and gather feedback.
What is more, you can manage and track tasks. Within the platform, you get a bird’s-eye view of all the assigned tasks. Also, Dropbox sends you automatic reminders when deadlines are near. When sending documents to clients like NDAs, it is easy to just add legally binding signatures with Dropbox Sign. Teams can even enjoy advanced document tracking and actionable insights like time spent on the document with Dropbox DocSend. And if you would still like to expand the scope further, you can always use third-party integrations.
When it comes to cloud-based solutions, most people prefer Google Drive and OneDrive because they want simultaneous access to their favorite tools from Google and Microsoft. To stay relevant, Dropbox made the decision to add Google Workspace and Office 365 (among other tools like Slack and Trello) within the app.
Yeah, this integration is far from perfect. Google Docs and Microsoft Word documents are open outside of Dropbox. When using Google’s integrated apps, your Google account must match your Dropbox username. Sometimes users have reported facing issues with creating Office files from the desktop app. But still, it is rather convenient.
No other cloud storage services offer as many integrated tools as Dropbox. But it comes at a cost of privacy and security, which are invaluable to cloud users these days. By granting access to third-party services, Dropbox has to compromise user privacy and all-around security.
Well, it does not mean that Dropbox’s security is terrible. The service uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect user data at rest, and AES 128-bit encryption for data in transit. It does add an additional layer of security with two-factor verification. However, it lacks zero-knowledge encryption, meaning your data can be accessed by Dropbox staff and law enforcement officials if needed.
Dropbox offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of pricing. There are six pricing plans – Plus ($9.99/mo), Family ($16.99/mo), Professional ($16.58/mo), Standard ($15/user/mo), Advanced ($24/user/mo), and Enterprise (customizable).
With a Free account, you get access to only 2 GB of cloud storage, a limit that can be overcome with a paid plan. For anyone interested, there is a free trial for 30 days. However, according to plenty of reviews online, users have been overly charged within a trial period followed by a terrible customer service experience.
When considering the available options in the market, Dropbox does deliver the best in terms of speed, usability, and performance. However, after about 15 years of service, it seems it is falling behind its competitors, especially when pricing and security are involved.
So, is Dropbox for you? Well, it depends on what is important to you. If you are not comfortable with someone spying on your data, we recommend going with alternatives like MEGA or Sync.com. If customer support is important to you, you might not want to choose Dropbox. However, if you want reliable and fast speeds, decent collaboration, and a chance to use tons of third-party apps, Dropbox may be a good option for you.