Dropbox, once great now barely mentioned in cloud storage services reviews

Jason Cross, on MacWorld, wrote an article reviewing cloud storage services available on the Mac and on iOS, and Dropbox is not part of the recommended ones. Cross feels compelled to at least mention Dropbox at the end:

No discussion of cloud storage solutions would be complete without discussing the company that popularized consumer cloud syncing: Dropbox. Unfortunately, it’s hard to recommend for most users. A free account nets you a paltry 2GB, and it doesn’t include some of the service’s niftier features like Smart Sync. The cheapest plan it offers is $11.99 per month for 2TB (still missing a few features) or $19.99 per month for a family plan with a shared 2TB and all the service’s features. Dropbox does a great job of syncing folders on computers and mobile devices, but that’s just not enough anymore—its competitors do a great job of that, too. Creating and editing documents is done through Dropbox’s all-in-one Paper app, which is just okay.

Dropbox will back up your photos and videos if you want, but the photo management experience is lackluster. While Dropbox was the go-to cloud storage and sync service ten years ago, it has since been surpassed by more robust, flexible, and affordable offerings from its competitors.

Ouch. This honest take on Dropbox cannot be more accurate. Dropbox is good, but compared to the competition — including Apple iCloud, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive to name a few — is either too limited or too expensive.

The photo situation is especially revealing. Dropbox indeed shifted its focus toward a more business-centric product a few years ago, meaning files and folders were more strategic than collections of personal photos, and despite their very short-lived efforts with Carousel, photo backups were never more than a automation feature pushing your camera roll to the cloud.

Add the Dropbox Mac app situation1 to this lack of photo library features, and it is becoming harder and harder to root for Dropbox,2 or to use it as your main personal backup service, and even more so to pay premium for it. Dropbox is good, but alternatives have increasingly become better.

Still, it is kind of sad to see this company and iconic product as the shadow of its former self. As Marsellus Wallace tells Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction (1994):

You came close, but you never made it. And if you were gonna make it, you would have made it before now.

That’s how I feel about Dropbox.

  1. I use Dropbox for publishing on Blot, and it works great, but I have switched to the open source Maestral app, which is much lighter, much more efficient than the Dropbox app, and good enough for the basic file syncing features.↩︎

  2. The fact that simple text files cannot be edited via the website is also not helping their case. Word documents? No problem. Rich Dropbox Paper files? Sure, easy. A simple .txt file? No can do: have to use the app for this, or modify the file on your computer.↩︎