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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.

SugarSync's main claim to fame is that it allows you to sync any folders on your computer. Other services create folders that you're asked to move your stuff into when you want to back it up or sync it. This can be a more convenient way to organize files that you want to share with others — create one folder to share with your friends and another for your workmates, for example.

The SugarSync app is nicely laid out and easy to work with. And you can select files within one of your folders and share them via a contextual menu or share the entire folder, publicly or privately. But, like OneDrive, it's not as widely supported as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box.com.

Boxed in by Box.com

Box.com's free plan, at 10 GB, provides five times the storage of Dropbox but with that free plan comes a file size limitation — you're restricted to sharing files no larger than 250 MB. For many tasks this isn't a terrible burden, but if you attempt to share lengthy uncompressed audio files or even a shortish movie with decent resolution, you'll find your way barred. That said, the free plan does let you share files via a Finder contextual menu command and the preview services on Box's website are good.

If you want more from Box, its prices are, again, better than Dropbox's. For $5 a month/$60 a year you can have 100 GB of storage and a file size limit of 2 GB. The business plan at $15 a month offers unlimited storage and a limit of 5 GB per file. Box.com encrypts data in transit and at rest.

And the winner is...

At the end of my investigation it dawned on me that I'd stuck with Dropbox largely out of habit. In truth, it's one of the worst storage values around — every other service I looked at provides greater storage for less (or no) money. But none of them precisely match Dropbox's offerings.

OneDrive is attractive for its free storage and integration with Microsoft Office but it needs to be integrated into more apps and it should offer encryption to all of its customers — even freeloaders like me. Google offers the same amount of free storage and better encryption. However, oversensitive to privacy though I may be, I simply don't trust Google to keep its nose out of my data. SugarSync can't be had for free and, like OneDrive, is under-supported in apps. And Box.com has the file-size limitation.

And so, for me, there is no single winner. Rather, I've chosen a Solomon-like solution. For most of my file sharing needs I use Box.com, as I rarely need to share files over 250 MB. It's supported by a lot of apps so I know that people I share files with can access them (and they can just as easily share their files with me).

 

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