The Ups and Downs of Dropbox

Dropbox offers a cloud repository for your files. Its basic subscription is free. I use it sparingly, but I always recommend it to people who need this kind of service. Still, I like to make folks aware of my pros and cons with it.

Pros: dropbox-pros

  • It’s free. A free account gets you 2 GB of space. For me, that’s not very much, but since I already have other areas where I save my digital music and the bulk of my images online – I use Dropbox to store a minimal amount of files I’m working on regularly and it suits that need fine.
  • It’s NOT Google. Between the Google search engine, my Android phone and Google everything else, I’m fairly thrilled to find something that isn’t integrated with Google. I know I could be using Google Drive to store and work on my files, but I’m a little tired of Google having access to everything I do. In my mind, they ARE Big Brother. Plus, I’m not terribly impressed with their Office-like app functionality.
  • It syncs. With average size files, syncing is pretty much drop and drag, wait a minute and bada-boom, you’re synced – your files are now available on your computer, your phone and your tablet. If you hate looking around for that flash drive or are simply in a hurry, Dropbox delivers as long as your internet does too.
  • You can share one or all of your files. If someone else has Dropbox, you can share certain files with them. They can even edit those files and share them back in your Dropbox if you are collaborating on a project. Even if they don’t have Dropbox, you can send them a link to view the files you want to share.
  • There’s an undo/delete. Who doesn’t like UNDO? Seriously? I’m a deleter from way back. I hate clogging up my email account with trash and spam. I go through it all as best I can and delete stuff permanently regularly. Some people can’t live with that process. At least with an undo/delete feature, you’ll feel a little more confident that your 1,000 page autobiography hasn’t disappeared off the face of the earth.

Cons: dropbox-cons

  • The interface is still confusing. I actually teach a class on Dropbox where I work just because older non-computer people find it a tad baffling. While it looks simple enough, it still feels clunky and when it comes to sharing some files and not others, you don’t want clunky, you want clean. You don’t want there to be any mistake about what files you’re sharing and those you aren’t. Which leads me to my next qualm:
  • They got rid of the Public Folder for newer users. The original Dropbox had a Public Folder that was automatically part of your Dropbox. The Public folder created a link to every file it contained for sharing purposes. This folder is still available to older users, but now requires a paid subscription to be available to new users. Plain and simple, the Public Folder made it very clear what files you were sharing. I would suggest getting a personal and business Dropbox to avoid some confusion in this area or get a paid Dropbox account. (Boooo!)
  • It’s more Crap in the Cloud! Everything and everybody is getting hacked these days. You do your best to prevent it and YET-now you’re purposefully putting documents in the dang cloud. All I can say about this rant is, be careful what you put out there if you’re ever worried it might get in the wrong hands. Also keep in mind, you may never get hacked! (That doesn’t mean you should avoid wearing your safety belt.) I don’t mind putting my music and even images in the cloud, but personal documents – no. I would consider email safer in that respect, but even that ain’t bullet proof.
  • You start with 2GB of space for free. As I said earlier, that isn’t much to me, but it could be fine for you. I find it funny that Dropbox encourages you to save all kinds of files in their little box; photos, videos, etc., but those file types take up gobs of space. This is why I use Dropbox as a temporary solution for documents I’m currently working on, not as a storage place. If storage is what you need and it’s important enough, you’ll pay to play.
  • It can be slowww. These days, if things don’t happen in a millisecond, we’re all crying foul! Dropbox is as good as your internet service and even then, it can be slow. Have patience, Grasshopper. There are only a trillion people on the internet doing the same stuff as you. We’re lucky the whole thing doesn’t just blow up sometimes.


About the Author

Karen Homan

Karen is a 14 year veteran at an upstate New York college where she writes and edits end-user documentation to educate faculty and staff in computer software. She has been involved with software training for over 17 years, is experienced in producing training videos, blogs about technology, and creates instructional material for her day job. One of her passions is figuring things out. Her favorite motto is IBM’s old one word slogan: THINK.