Dropping Dropbox: Exploring alternatives

“For purely personal reasons I’ve chosen to abandon Dropbox,” Christopher Breen writes for Macworld. “But that doesn’t mean my desire to share files with others has likewise vanished. I need an alternative that includes many of the things offered by Dropbox.”

“Of course that includes free storage as well as the ability to share files with others. And then there’s the extent to which the service is supported by apps and platforms,” Breen writes. “One of Dropbox’s clear advantages is that a large number of iOS apps hook directly into it. If an app has file sharing capabilities, there’s a good chance that Dropbox is one of its share options.”

“Thankfully, Dropbox, though popular, isn’t the only game in town. Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Google Drive, SugarSync, and Box.com also offer free storage and file sharing features,” Breen writes. “I took a gander at each one to compare not only the kind of storage offered for free, but the ease with which you can share files with others.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iCloud Drive.

31 Comments

    1. If anything… we have the ability to get our most important files to be backed up… iCloud, backed up by DropBox, backed up by…. anyway… for those that are paranoid and refuse to use a portable external drive

  1. iCloud is not even remotely a substitute for Dropbox. iCloud is good for what it is, but DB and those other services are both cloud and file synching among devices.

    Not everyone is online all the time; Dropbox lets me have a copy of that stuff all the time.

    1. Keep an eye open for information about the upcoming iCloud Drive. thanxal posted a link below that offers some information about what it will offer. It ‘could’ be as good as DropBox, but we’ll see.

  2. iCloud Drive, along with Yosemite’s Mail app soon being able to transfer files as large as 5 GB, is all I need to effectively drop Dropbox. I won’t need any additional third party services at that point.

    1. Given that iCloud Drive’s features sound pretty good so far, can you cite some examples of areas where you think Apple will have a long way to go o compete?

  3. I use four services:

    DropBox: I like it’s synchronization features and the ability to offer files to other people via the Internet. But because it has NO encryption (yet), I encrypt my critical files myself at my end inside a SparseBundle. I like SparseBundles because they are broken into multiple files, allowing DropBox to upload and sync only changed portion files within the bundle, rather than the entire monster file. My SparseBundle is over 1 GB in size.

    Box: It’s nice to have 50 GB to use for free. But Box is a major PITA due to it requiring Windows naming limitations and does NOT support UNIX apps packages or certain OS X file types. Therefore, I ONLY use box for documents and I put up with not being able to use stupid Windows reserved characters (which are: :”/\|?* and beware ending a file name with a space). One nice feature of box is access to my files via their iOS app.

    BackBlaze: This is an excellent backup service. Backing up is all it’s for. You get infinite space for less than $5 a month. AND you can set up user-side encryption to keep everything safe from hackers and treasonous government organizations.

    iCloud: At the moment, iCloud is mostly good for coordinating various Apple applications and syncing their data across computers. It’s nice for photo backups and syncing as well. I’m looking forward to iCloud Disk in OS X Yosemite when iCloud actually comes of age after far too many years of Apple neglect and hobbling. I might even toss some money at it for further disk space if it works well. I of course demand encryption. But that’s not in the cards so far.

    A Mac specific service to consider: Arq. I believe it uses Amazon’s cloud space. It provides user-side encryption. I haven’t checked out its prices lately.

    SpiderOak is another worth consideration as well as it also provides user-side encryption and is Mac friendly.

    1. I use(d) most of those as well, along with others like Google Drive.

      One missing from the list is OwnCloud. It’s free, unlimited, encrypted and owned by you. The two big downsides are that you have to set it up yourself with your own server (or rent a host), and it’s not as fully integrated with apps yet as DropBox is (or iCloud will be).

      Other than that, it works great if you can set up your own server. There are hosting providers that support OwnCloud as well.

      For those of us already running servers with plenty of overhead, it’s really pretty cool to have TBs of cloud space at no extra cost.

      Another cool thing about it is that it’s not necessarily personal. You can set up accounts for family, friends, co-workers.

      See:
      http://owncloud.org

    2. Thanks for sharing. Appreciate it.

      Dropbox seems to be the favorite of developers for adding syncing services to their apps. That more than anything else keeps me in DB’s orbit. Hopefully Apple will have learned from Dropbox’s evolution, making iCloud Drive as functional and useful.

  4. Per this:
    http://9to5mac.com/2014/07/07/ios-8-beta-3-indicates-icloud-drive-will-also-be-accessible-from-icloud-com/

    I am just counting down the days to dropping Dropbox. Although I like its ease of use once setup, It is far too expensive compared to other services. If Apple is anywhere nearly as competitive as say, teh Google, at $120 or so per year for 1 TB, then I’m in. Dropbox’s $99/year for 100gb is ridiculous – highway robbery, actually. From all appearances, iCloud Drive will solve the headaches of iCloud (only one level of folders, only works with Apple apps, no file manager).

  5. He left Dropbox “for personal reasons” – that’s an odd turn of phrase. Unless he has some kind of personal relationship with staff at Dropbox, the reasons he has stopped using their product might also apply to other customers. I’d be interested in hearing what those reasons are.
    I can think of a few: adding to their Board of Directors a former government official who oversaw mass surveillance of innocent people (Rice), some security mistakes in the past, and holding the technical capability to decrypt users’ files (if the website can give you a decrypted file, any protecting they have could be circumvented by their employees, either maliciously or by government order).

  6. 3 things that make iCloud Drive incredibly compelling:

    1) Pricing.
    It’s significantly cheaper than Dropbox, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the pricing drop further once things are up and running for a year or so.

    2) Integration.
    Dropbox stands way above everyone else currently, but one iCloud Drive launches, that’s going to be the new standard in the Apple ecosystem.

    3) Additional Features.
    One very big feature they showed at WWDC was email integration. Send an email attachment today and it may bounce back if it’s too big for the sending server or the receiving server. Send one with iCloud Drive and if the attachment is big, the recipient will get a link to click on and download from your iCloud Drive account. This is entirely automagical. There will be numerous other things that “just work” like this.

    The disadvantages…

    1) Cross platform compatibility.
    While files will be accessible via the web across platforms, the service itself won’t be cross-platform. This means iCloud Drive can’t be a Dropbox killer for anything other than the Apple ecosystem. If you’re living only partially in Apple’s ecosystem, Dropbox may still be the best option.

    2) New service = bugs and growing pains
    Launching iCloud Drive will be one of the biggest online service offerings ever accomplished. Right out of the gate, there’s going to be well over a hundred million accounts with a lot of them going beyond the 5GB level. Nobody can pull this off without some issues, and quite frankly services like this haven’t historically been Apple’s strength. The point being, if you plan on getting a 200GB account (or 1TB account if available) at launch, don’t be surprised if there are issues that make syncing those 200GB rather difficult. It may take months before everything is up to speed and running smoothly.

    1. Your concern about iCloud Drive “not being cross platform” appears to be unfounded. It appears (as of the latest beta) that there are hooks to a web interface at the very least. It would surprise me greatly if Apple did not include the functionality for Windows iCloud members. And of course iOS, so other than Android (which people don’t, by and large, use as an advanced smartphone platform), I think Apple’s covered all the significant platforms.

      1. You ignored the very first sentence I wrote on the topic:
        “While files will be accessible via the web across platforms, the service itself won’t be cross-platform.”

        The point remains, while you can still sort of, kind of, maybe get access to iCloud files across platforms, you’re not going to find cross platform integration with the service itself.

        This differs greatly to Dropbox, and others, where the services themselves are cross-platform.

        What Android users do by and large is irrelevant. And if you’re entirely in the Apple ecosystem, cross-platform compatibility of the service won’t matter. However, if you’ve got Android devices, Windows devices, and Linux devices in addition to one Apple device, then using Dropbox or other service may make much more sense.

        There’s really no getting around this, cross-platform compatibility will be a competitive disadvantage for iCloud Drive. While it won’t affect people like me (I plan on signing up for the largest capacity account), it’s one of the main reasons why iCloud won’t kill off Dropbox or some of the other cloud services and products.

  7. Until iCloud drive gives me a front end to browse and share files and manage permissions to said shared files from my iOS device then it will never be a real storage competitor to Dropbox. Likewise until it provides for versioning and restoring multiple versions of the same file it cannot be a competitor to Dropbox.

  8. I use both Box & Copy on OSX and iOS. Both are excellent. I also use Dropbox. I am using the free versions of all three and do not see any major differences for sharing files.

    Highly recommend Box and Copy as alternatives to Dropbox. Have not used other alternatives.

  9. http://www.mega.com provides 50 GB free
    http://www.copy.com provides 20 GB free

    As stated in the article there are many apps that have hooks to Dropbox so I cannot close out Dropbox. However it is only for those apps that I use it. All other files go to Mega or Copy. Dropbox does not provide enough free space; 2 GB is not enough.

    Not many folks want to use a referral to get 2 GB when they can go to Google Drive, One Drive, and the like immediately starting off with over twice as much free space.

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