Like millions of others, I use Dropbox on all my machines as do friends and family. Since I also share Dropboxes with clients, I purchased a Pro account for $9.99 per month and have almost maxed out my 100GB sized service. As of today, that same $10/month will get me 1TB of storage!
Though Dropbox’ unique sync’ing capability and ease-of-use is what has made them explode with more than 300 million users and 80,000 paying businesses using the service, they had to compete with others in the storage space:
- Amazon launched cut-price Dropbox competitor called Zocalo
- Google’s GDrive offers 1TB for the same $9.99 per month, though Google Apps (for Business, Education, etc.) subscribers get unlimited storage as long as at least five team members are using the service
- Microsoft OneDrive (formerly named “SkyDrive”) offers several consumer plans and, instead of Dropbox’ free 2GB os storage, the free level on OneDrive is a whopping 15GBs!
- More enterprise-centric Box.com has yet to respond with their pricing but they’ll likely have no choice now, even though their initial public offering has been delayed and some think they’re not doing very well.
Besides just a lot more storage, there are some really useful day-to-day items which will add a lot of value. Dropbox is offering a surprising amount with this new release and will provide any of us with a Pro account more, so read on for some of the new goodness.
- Passwords for shared links create an additional layer of security so only people with the password can access your link
- Expirations for shared links safeguard your sensitive files by letting you set how long your links stay up
- View-only permissions for shared folders let you pick whether recipients can edit or just view files within your shared folder
- Plus a new, excellent feature called Remote Wipe, which will let you delete your Dropbox files from a lost or stolen device while keeping them safely backed up in Dropbox.
Again, you have to have a Pro account in order to take advantage of the new storage amount and the value-added goodies (Dropbox’ free storage is still at 2GBs).
Any downside? Perhaps the potential insecurity of any online file storage, especially one as open as Dropbox.
Like all of these services, one must assume that the storage providers are cooperating with the intelligence services to provide access to accounts as needed. Dropbox has this page explaining their position and what they do, but there was an online protest and outcry (and this site urging them to drop her) when Dropbox added former George W. Bush administration National Security Advisor, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, to their board of directors. This caused Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston, to issue this rebuttal post.
For me (and I use Macs), if I have anything requiring secure storage I’ll open the Disk Utility app, create a disk image (.dmg) in the size I need, encrypt it with 256-bit encryption (government top secret-level encryption), and store the disk image in a folder that gets replicated to other machines.
Though 256-bit encryption is suspect as far as the National Security Agency (NSA) having a ‘backdoor’ in it or not, it’s the best we can do at the present time.
The usefulness of having synchronized files across machines is so key that I’m willing to ensure no one BUT the NSA can see my stuff (he say, sadly admitting Big Brother is here and having a shitload of fun, I’ll bet). Happy cloud storing!