Dropbox is a successful online cloud storage and file synchronisation service that has been around since 2008. I must have started using it not long after and have been using it for years. However, it is time to move on and I wonder if other people are thinking the same way. Is it over for Dropbox?
I have to say that Dropbox has been brilliant and the service has been excellent. Long before anyone else had a fast and reliable cloud storage and syncing service, Dropbox was there. What’s more, the support for different operating systems, computers and devices has been excellent. It was supporting the Mac and Linux long before anyone else. In fact, OneDrive and Google Drive still don’t have Linux apps.
The Dropbox app is available for pretty much everything you can think of and when installed on a computer – Windows, Mac or Linux – it syncs the local Dropbox folder with the online storage and makes them identical. Mobile phones and tablets can access all your files through the online storage and they can upload photos to Dropbox automatically as you take them with the device’s camera, and other files can be uploaded manually.
Dropbox is fast and it appears to sync as fast as your internet connection will allow. It will even detect your other computers on the same local network and sync locally over Wi-Fi, so there’s no need to upload and download. Google syncing is OK, but OneDrive is sometimes noticeably slower, as if it is throttling the bandwidth. Dropbox just blasts files up and down as fast as it can.
Despite the fact that Dropbox is so good at what it does, I have deleted everything and moved elsewhere.
The reason is because Microsoft and Google have not only caught up, but have overtaken Dropbox. It is hard to think of any major features in Dropbox that are not in the latest Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive. For example, there are Windows and Apple Mac desktop apps that sync a folder on the disk drive with your online storage and with any other computer running the apps. All your files everywhere are kept in sync.
There are also nice apps for Mobile phones and tablets that enable you to easily access your online storage on the go and upload files. Both Google and Microsoft will automatically back up every photo you take. Microsoft uploads photos to the Pictures/Camera Roll folder on OneDrive and Google backs up photos to Google+.
Both Microsoft and Google provide lots of storage and you currently get 15GB of online space free of charge. Adding extra space to OneDrive and Google Drive is really cheap too, and both offer 100GB for just $1.99 a month. Compare this to Dropbox’s 2GB free and 100GB for $9.99 a month. Dropbox storage is looking very expensive and overpriced these days. It will surely lose out if the price does not come down fairly soon.
To be fair, Dropbox does offer ways of boosting your free storage by recommending friends, adding camera backup and so on, but so does Microsoft and you can get an additional 8GB on top of your 15GB for free. If you make use of all the free extras, you will end up with more free space on OneDrive than on Dropbox.
I actually have over 1TB – that's 1,000+GB – of online storage on Microsoft OneDrive. This is because I went for a Microsoft Office monthly subscription last year instead of buying it outright. An Office 365 Home subscription is $99.99 / £79.99 a year, which enables you to install Office on five PCs, Macs or tablets and you get 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Switching from Dropbox to OneDrive and/or Google Drive isn’t just about price and even if Dropbox could match Google and Microsoft, it would still be too tempting to switch. The advantage that Microsoft and Google have is that they are like the Walmart/Asda of the cloud storage world. They are one-stop shops that provide everything you need under one roof and at a low cost.
Instead of buying an app here, a service there, from independent companies. You can get everything from Microsoft or Google. Both have office suites that can be used to create word processor documents, spreadsheets and presentations using nothing more than a web browser. Although Dropbox works with other apps, it doesn’t have an integrated office suite.
Dropbox has file sharing, but so does Microsoft and Google, but they go further than simple sharing and they offer online collaboration on documents. Several people can view and edit the same document online.
Microsoft and Google
Another nail in the coffin for Dropbox is that OneDrive and Google Drive are hard to avoid and you will end up with them anyway. You then have to ask yourself why you would want to add something else, such as Dropbox, which is almost identical, but without the extras. Windows 8 has OneDrive built in and you are encouraged to log in to Windows using a Microsoft ID. In fact, Windows 8 doesn’t work as well if you don’t have a Microsoft ID. This means that you have 15GB of online storage and tools and features by default. You just need to install the app on your mobile and tablet and you’re good to go.
The same is true of Google if you have an Android phone or tablet. The first thing they do when you start them up for the first time is to ask you to sign in to your Google account or create one. Android devices don’t work very well if you don’t have a Google account. So that’s another 15GB of free online storage you have. Do you really need to sign up for Dropbox?
I have got to the point where I just don’t need Drobox any longer and I can do everything I was doing on OneDrive and Google Drive. They are backing up photos on phones and tablets to the cloud storage, they are storing my work documents and syncing them between computers, and I even create documents using the web apps.
Chromebooks and Linux
When you switch completely to Google Drive and Docs, Chromebooks become a possibility. These are designed primarily for working online with Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides. Your files are online, your documents are online, why not have a computer that works online?
If you need something a bit more powerful and flexible than a Chromebook, you can switch to Linux. Although there aren’t apps that enable you to sync a local folder, the web interface for OneDrive and Google Drive is excellent these days. You can simply drop files on the browser window to upload them, and downloading is just a couple of clicks. The fast internet connections that are common today for most people means that it is a lot faster to up and download files than it used to be and it is a lot less tedious.
Goodbye Dropbox and thanks for all the space.