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Dropping Dropbox: Exploring alternatives

Christopher Breen | July 8, 2014
For purely personal reasons I've chosen to abandon Dropbox. 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.

For purely personal reasons I've chosen to abandon Dropbox. 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. 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. 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. This is the story of my search for a replacement.

Is OneDrive enough?

A free OneDrive account provides you with 15 GB of storage (13 GB more than Dropbox's free account). As with Dropbox you can add more free storage by automatically syncing your photos with the service and referring others to it. If you'd like to add even more storage, prices are a great deal less than what Dropbox charges — an additional 100 GB for $25, or 200 GB for $50 per year. If you subscribe to an Office 365 plan, you get 1 TB of storage with your account at no additional charge. You do have a limit on the size of files that you can send, but at 2 GB per file, that limit is hardly onerous.

Regrettably, unlike with Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, and Box.com you don't have the option to create a sharing link directly within the Finder. Instead, after moving items into your local OneDrive folder you must log into your account via a web browser, select files or a folder, and then right-click on an item and choose a Share command. You can then choose who you'd like to share with via an email address or ask OneDrive to generate a link to the file for you, which you can then pass along to those you want to share the item with. Dropbox does the same kind of thing when you access it from a browser, but the ability to instead generate a link within the Finder is far easier.

OneDrive also goes beyond mere file previewing. With it you, and the people you share editable Office files with, can edit those files using the free Office Online web apps (you can also open files in local versions of the Office apps if you have them). While they may not be full-blown copies of desktop Office apps, they offer a lot of editing power.

 

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