By Jason Snell
January 31, 2020 3:29 PM PT
Service Station: Dropbox Plus
Services! They’re the newest rage. Everyone decided to grow their businesses by not selling things anymore and just giving them away for free. You can guess what happened next: they all ran out of money. So paying is back, but now it’s paid on a recurring basis to your credit card! You’re all subscribing to something right now—it’s Six Colors—and we appreciate your support. This column is intended to shine a spotlight on some sort of service that we take advantage of that we think is worth mentioning.
I’ve been using Dropbox for a long time, and paying for it for a few years now. I’m paying $119.88 per year for Dropbox Plus. And although I’m also paying for iCloud storage (largely for iCloud Photos), I’m not using iCloud to store anything of particular importance, whereas most of my life is in Dropbox.
I share Dropbox folders with collaborators; Apple has promised this feature for iCloud, but it has been delayed or deferred off into the future. I use Dropbox links to quickly share single files with friends. I can use Dropbox’s built-in 30-day file recovery to rescue a deleted file from purgatory, or roll back to an earlier version of file that has been subsequently ruined. Both features have saved my bacon more than once.
Also recently Dropbox finally rolled out Smart Sync, a feature that solves the Dropbox Terabyte Conundrum—in other words, the problem that I had more Dropbox space than actual disk space on my computer. Smart Sync finally lets me store files on Dropbox without storing them locally, functionality I can manage from the Finder right on my Mac. (iCloud Drive also has this feature.)
The big feature that I can’t give up, the one that Apple hasn’t made any noises of addressing in iCloud, is something called File Requests. It lets me set up a webpage where anyone can upload a file from their computer, and it’ll drop right now into a specific folder in my Dropbox. I use this for all the podcasts I do, and it’s so much easier than all methods I’ve previously tried.
Does Dropbox have limitations? Sure, of course it does. Its iOS app is woefully behind and fails to support the cloud-storage features introduced in iOS 13. But I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think iCloud Drive is that much more stable on iOS—or my Mac.
Is Dropbox for everyone? Absolutely not. The beauty of services is, you can take them or leave them depending on your priorities. But for me, spending $120/year for 2 terabytes of cloud storage, and the features to share those files with others, is an easy expense for my business to spend.