Dropbox Review

www.dropbox.com

Our Rating:

***

Reviewed Mar 2, 2012

User Rating

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Dropbox rated 3.91 stars based on 77 votes

Pros

  • 2GB free
  • Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry
  • Sync, Share, Web Access
  • Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile clients

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Cons

  • Can't backup all of your files
  • Expensive - 50GB is $9.99 / month, 100GB is $19.99 / month
 
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Complete Review

Summary

Dropbox is a simple solution for saving files to the cloud. With it, you can make the same files accessible across multiple computers by simply installing Dropbox on every computer that you use regularly and dropping files there.

This action enables you to sync files across computers with ease. However, a closer look at this program reveals that it's not suited to be used as a comprehensive online backup solution.

Online Backup

Dropbox in the Windows taskbarThe Dropbox folder, which is conveniently placed on your PC's desktop upon installation, serves as the main graphical tool that connects you to Dropbox's servers on the Internet. Basically, for any of your files to be backed up online automatically, you need to copy/move/save them to the Dropbox folder.

While this may seem like a nifty tool, it also essentially means that if a program saves at another folder by default, files created through it will not be saved in the cloud.

One benefit of saving your files on Dropbox though is that you can revert to previous versions that have been stored in their servers up to a maximum of 30 days. What's more, if you upgrade to a paid version of Dropbox, that limit will be waived. That means you can perform an unlimited number of undos until you find the version you want to revert to.

File Sync

This is where Dropbox shines. If you start working on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet in your office computer and want to continue working at home, you simply copy your file to the Dropbox folder. Then once you arrive home, you turn on your PC, open its Dropbox folder, and that same file will be waiting there.

Unlike other web-based apps that require a constant Internet connection, Dropbox allows you to work even when you're offline. That means, if you're working on a laptop and you save the file in the Dropbox folder, you can still work on the same file even when you move to a location where you have no Internet access. Once you get back online, the system will automatically sync your file.

LAN SyncIf you work within a local area network (LAN) and have Dropbox folders in different workstations, file syncing can take place much faster. That's because when its LAN Sync feature is enabled, Dropbox will only have to look for the newest copy of the file within the network and share it with other Dropbox folders found there. For this feature to activate, you'll need to be connected both to a LAN and the Internet.

File Sharing

Sharing files and collaborating with your team members can be easily done with this program. In just a couple of steps, you can already share files with existing Dropbox users. Non-Dropbox users will receive a registration invitation via email. After registration, they can then have access to the files you shared with them through their own Dropbox folder, allowing all of you to work on the same file at the same time even when you're all in your respective homes.

You can also specify who has access to which file or folder if you only want to share certain files with certain people. Files placed in the public folder, on the other hand, are viewable by anyone.

As for images, you can share them even with non-Dropbox users because they will be displayed in a gallery that can be viewed online. This is particularly convenient for non-Dropbox users who don't want to go through the registration process just to view your photos.

Dropbox photo gallery

Web Access

If you need access to your files from another computer, but doesn't have Dropbox installed, you can simply login to the Dropbox website and download your file from there. Then when you're done, you just upload the file back via the website so you can have the latest copy available synced to all linked computers.

Security

Dropbox is backed by ample security features like SSL, which provides security while you send files to the servers and back, and file encryption, to prevent malicious individuals from prying into your files.

Summary

If you're a regular computer user, chances are you will have multiple applications installed on your system. Common files like saved games, downloaded installers, MP3s, videos, images, as well as not-so-common ones like downloaded HTML pages, PDFs, IM conversations, and drivers, may be important to you. The apps from which these files were created or downloaded with will understandably use their own default folders for saving. Having to ensure that each one is dropped into that Dropbox folder can be time consuming and even downright impossible. That is why, while Dropbox does have some neat features like syncing and sharing, it is certainly not your best online backup solution.

That being said, Dropbox is great for syncing files between multiple computers and sharing with others. So go ahead and sign-up with Dropbox for free, but use another online backup solution for your primary backups.

56 Comments
  1. Its great. Even the free version.

  2. I totally disagree with this review. I you have your personal files scattered around your computer in some clumsy default folders then that is your own fault. If you have your files in some designated folder, with subfolders, then this is the best service out there. Easy to understand and install, cross-platform, automatic, ample amount of space, no deletion upon inactivity or other hiccups. I love it!

    • I agree, you have to be pretty damn stupid to use those default folders. Sure, it might feel fast and simple just to press that “Save” button without designating the location first, but it WILL backfire after a while. Your folder structure will end up being a complete mess.

  3. Dropbox sucks. All I put was a bunch of my photos that were very precious to me, especially art WIPs (work in progress). After I wiped my computer clean for a good cleaning out…I go to install the dropbox again and more then half of those files are gone. I know the box wasn’t even near full before the wipe…and now everything I wanted is gone.Thanks dropbox… D:<

    • meybe you should have first uninstalled dropbox so you wipe wouldnt have deleted the files on your local dropbox folder, thus due to the auto-sync feature, causing those files to be deleted from the cloud as well. its your own fault, not the system’s

    • I have not had any such problems with Dropbox. What’s amazing to me is you relied solely on a new program to save “precious” files apparently with no additional backup before wiping the originals. I am a semi-pro photographer with over 12,000 digital images. I triple backup, one on a second computer, one on a portable hard drive, and one on Apple Time Machine.

    • All your dropbox files are saved for 30 days and you can undelete them through the dropbox site, if you pay 39 bucks you have unlimited version history and undelete abilities. but if you accidently delete a file you can undo it on the free account, that’s the point of using a cloud backup…

  4. I think Dropbox deserves 5 stars. The biggest advantage is the simplicity of being able to access your important files from any computer and keeping them synchronized across all of your machines. Pricing could be better for the space that they offer but I think the peace of mind they offer is well worth the cost. Just being able to recover files that you have accidentally changed or deleted has saved me before. Dropbox is also very generous to students. Their normal referral program gives you an additional 250mb of space and you’re eligible to get up to 8gb for free. If you register as a student you’re given double that. 500mb for each referral up to a maximum of 16gb absolutely free.

  5. I have used dropbox for several months now and have found it to work flawlessly. To avoid the problem described by Bree related to doing a cleanuup on a computer, you should temporarily deactivate syncing on that particular computer on the dropbox website before doing any mass deletes. Once you are done restoring your system, re-establish syncing for that PC.

  6. dropbox is awesome

  7. I have a very small business with employees that work from their homes. Dropbox has made it so we can share all pertinent files without having to email back & forth. I have been looking for a solution to coordinating remote workers & I think I have found it in dropbox!

  8. To my point of view Best of All on free side, if you need a USB size storage fro syncro hard to beat if you are like me in War with Microsoft monopole, Dropbox is only one free good solution Linux Windows available. That worth a lot ….

  9. Hello I’m a college student and use Dropbox to store/sync all my homework files.

  10. How does dropbox keep viruses out? who has access to my files besides me? where exactly are my files stored? What is the confidence level that noone will ever hack my files?

    • Dropbox does not keep viruses out – it’s up to you to make sure you have virus protection”All files stored on Dropbox are encrypted (AES-256).” – more on security at https://www.dropbox.com/help/2

  11. I started using Dropbox 2 weeks ago and it works flawlessly and does exactly what it claims.My only concern is what storage facility does Dropbox use?? for example do they rent space from Amazon?

  12. I’m a producer who has to transfer files to several people on a weekly sometimes daily basis. Drop Box allows smooth transfer and its always worked! Flawless!! You know, they say your computer is only as smart as you are!!! :)

  13. Users of Dropbox and similar file-hosting sites should read the following article, posted by The Register (May 8, 2011): “Think file-hosting sites guard your private data? Think again”http://www.theregister.co.uk/2…From the article:”Academic researchers say they’ve uncovered weaknesses in dozens of the most popular file hosting sites that allow people to gain unauthorized access to data that’s supposed to be available only to those selected by the user.”The above article summarizes the research paper: “On the Privacy of File Sharing Services”, by N. Nikiforakis. F. Gadaleta, Y. Younan, and W. Joosen (May 2010).The researchers looked at eight file-sharing sites (“we compiled a list of the top such services”), but they did not reveal which sites were chosen. Therefore, I don’t know whether Dropbox was included in the study. Also, the researchers only tested two sites in depth. Nevertheless, the results raises significant concerns about the security of file-sharing services.

  14. I agree, I have been using Dropbox for ages now, and I wouldn’t want to live with out it. The thing with dropbox is that you really don’t ever notice it is there, in the background. It’s the uncomplicated way it just does what it does best that makes this one stand out…Keep up the great work on this site, I really enjoy the reviews.Titus

  15. Dropbox is great. Just make sure to download the desktop client as it makes saving and updating your files much easier.

  16. Watch out for their program to gain more space. It is either expensive or the free ways will cheat you.

  17. I am absolutely agree with deni_3 but i think that 4shared sync would be better alternative for dropbox. Moreover, 4shared provides 15 Gb free storage space and has lower prices.

  18. Question: I know that if I have Dropbox I can share my files with someone else. But, what if I need to receive files from someone else? I have dropbox, but they do not. I’m assuming the other person will have to download and install dropbox in order for this to work, right?

    • If you share a folder with someone, they should be able to upload a file to that shared folder via DB’s website. The other person might have to sign up for an account, but they don’t have to install the software on anything.

      • Thanks VTach359.

      • If they sign up for an account, they might as well install the software – will make life simpler.

  19. I have been using both dropbox and sugarsync for more than a year now and so far I am satisfied with both. Both services are useful for me, especially when file sharing and collaboration are needed in school. Both services also keep my files sync on my macbook air and my PC at home. I only noticed one difference between the two. Dropbox syncs files faster than sugarsync.

  20. When accessing dropbox on iPad I have to open my excel files in numbers. I can then update my excel files in numbers though I am unsure how to save my updated accounting files back onto dropbox from mac numbers. Anyone any ideas ……thanks.

  21. Sounds great, going to get the free 2GB now. But, I wont consider dropping IDrive for backup until the come way down on pricing. I pay 4.99 a month for 150 GB. Please, give me a break on dropbox pricing.

  22. I have found Dropbox to be not at all easy to understand or set up.

    • It took me maybe 75 seconds to setup and use Dropbox – Are you blind? – A five-year old could do it!

      • I agree! Dropbox is so simple I use it with 11 years old pupils so they can send their homework through to me! Not hard at all.

  23. Cool.Dropbox has become one of those services that I can’t do without. One of those “It just works” services. I use it to keep my files in sync across my desktop, laptop, android phone and iPad. It’s fast and I like knowing I have the added security of my files stored securely online.One neat feature which has saved me in more than one occasion is the undelete feature. I can restore any file that was accidentally deleted.If you don’t use the service I highly recommend trying it out.

  24. I have been using it for over a year and it is the best of any such service, simply because the desktop app is fully integrated with you OS file management system and it is quick

  25. Cool… Dropbox has become one of those services that I can’t do without. One of those “It just works” services. I use it to keep my files in sync across my desktop, laptop, android phone and iPad. It’s fast and I like knowing I have the added security of my files stored securely online.One neat feature which has saved me in more than one occasion is the undelete feature. I can restore any file that was accidentally deleted.If you don’t use the service I highly recommend trying it out

  26. Dropbox is P*ss Poor SLOW!!!

  27. I’m using Dropbox on daily basis as developer, and it saved my life many times. I don’t know regarding other services but Dropbox’s is really easy to use, you can also share files easily with people who don’t have Dropbox. another thing is the great folder sharing with other dropbox users which let’s you work together on a project.If you are a developer that uses Dropbox for your work, don’t forget to download the DropboxDiff for chrome, it adds a little button for diff’ing two versions of a file.If you have an Android OS the Dropbox app lets you stream your music on Dropbox, I don’t know how is it on iPhone though.

  28. Want to backup data in other directories?ln -s $HOME/Work $HOME/Dropbox/Work/ln -s $HOME/Pictures $HOME/Dropbox/PicturesProblem solved.

  29. ProsDropbox syncs at the bit level so if you update a project you are working it will post only those changes. It makes filesharing with less tech savvy people a breeze. I installed it on my parents computer and set it to sync from a picture folder and now they always have all of the pictures of my daughter. I use it as a cloud base music player for when Im out of the house.ConsI dont think there are any.SummaryI use this product in every aspect of my life I would be lost without it.

  30. Dropbox has become one of those services that I can’t do without. One of those “It just works” services. I use it to keep my files in sync across my desktop, laptop, android phone and iPad. It’s fast and I like knowing I have the added security of my files stored securely online.One neat feature which has saved me in more than one occasion is the undelete feature. I can restore any file that was accidentally deleted.If you don’t use the service I highly recommend trying it out.

  31. I am a school teacher who has used iDisk for many years.

  32. Depending on whether youwant to use DropBox for consumer or businesses purposes, it may or may not beright for you. For businesses in many regulated industries, DropBox is notcompliant. Their website clearly states this:https://www.dropbox.com/help/2

  33. Consumer dropbox solutions are convenient but lack necessary

  34. Excellent Post! With unlimited services many of them do limit you in other ways as you mentioned, but I know Mimedia recently removed their limits like the file size that could be uploaded and others making it pretty close to truly unlimited.

  35. Nice post. With huge amount of files are stored each day in our computer the files start to consume our valuable storage space. Cloud computing is one big solution to this. But this cloud computing is also creating some problems like editing etc. This dropbox is very useful for me to use cloud computing and to use files across multiple computers.

  36. I truly agree that dropbox is a simple and efficient solution for saving files into the cloud. It is so much easy to access files across multiple computers. Just by installing it on any computer, you can instantly access files and retrieve them.

  37. HELP!!. I have an Asus tablet and was using Documents to go for my files and had no problem. A friend invited me to use dropbox and now I find I can only access flies, add or change the files when i am connected to the internet. Is that the way this program works?? I am not the most computer literate, and feel stupid asking! I do a lot of paperwork on the road and not always connected to the internet.

  38. How do I change the password of my dropbox?

    • You can change your password from the account settings page on the Dropbox website. To access the account settings page.Change your password from the Dropbox website1 Sign in to the Dropbox website.2 Click on your name from the top of any page to open the account menu and select Settings3 Select the Security tab.4 Change your password by clicking Change password from the Account sign in section on the bottom-left.https://www.dropbox.com/help/3

  39. Long time dropbox user but am going to Google. I was notified that if I am not a team or Pro user then I’m not going to get any customer service. Lousy email. More space with Google.

  40. HATE that Dropbox doesn’t have any phone numbers for customer support. Their is a problem in how they are billing us BUT I CAN”T TALK TO ANYONE. I have to do everything by email. I’m ready to cancel. I’m sure they have phones. Very poor customer support

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