Are Dropbox’s Paid Plans Worth It?

Desktop app

All versions of Dropbox, including the free version, have access to the desktop app—you’ll get the same basic file-synchronization features whether you’re paying for Dropbox or not.

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After signing up for a Dropbox account, you’ll want to download the desktop version of the software. This will create a folder on your computer named “Dropbox” and it will place a Dropbox icon in either your menu bar if you’re a Mac user or your system tray if you use Windows.

Once the folder is created, anything you place in it will automatically sync to the Dropbox cloud. So if you want all of your documents to sync, for example, it would be a good idea to drag that folder into the Dropbox folder to keep it continuously backed up. Dropbox always works in the background to ensure the most recent changes are synced to the cloud as long as you’re online, and if you don’t have an Internet connection, it will sync as soon as you reconnect.

Video

How fast is Dropbox?

Despite removing bandwidth limits, Dropbox’s speed is rather unimpressive (Image credit: Dropbox)

Dropbox allows you to manage how much bandwidth your internet uses to run the Dropbox desktop app. This way, you can control how fast (or slow) you’d like Dropbox to run. The service claims that with a good internet connection, its service will speed up if you allow it the maximum amount of bandwidth possible. 

We tested Dropbox’s claims with a stable and fast internet connection (255Mbps download, 46Mbps upload). When downloading and uploading a 1GB video, however, Dropbox transferred at an unimpressive rate of about 70mbps. 

We then clocked the amount of time Dropbox required to upload a 100MB MP4 file, and compared it with the time it took OneDrive to do the same. On its web interface, Dropbox took about 42 seconds to upload the file. OneDrive, on the other hand, required only 33 seconds. 

Speed-wise, Dropbox leaves us slightly disappointed. But the average user who does not require uploads to be lightning fast should not be too affected.

8. Speed test

Our Internet service provider gives us a speed of 50 Mbps. Let’s check how fast the Dropbox speed is. We tried to upload and then download one file of 427 megabytes and a folder of 132 MB containing 39 Microsoft Word files. Here are the results:

Upload Download
One file 1 min 30 sec 1 min 15 sec
Folder 2 min 2 sec 22 sec

They are really good — you will not have to waste your time waiting for uploads or downloads to complete.

Mobile offline mode

The mobile version of Dropbox is set to let you see the files you have synced to the cloud, but those files are not automatically downloaded to your phone. However, you can always click the three-dotted menu icon either next to a file in a list (or once inside a file) to toggle the switch that will grant you access when you are offline. This functionality can be found across all versions of Dropbox.

5. Supported platforms and applications

As mentioned earlier, Dropbox supports the most popular desktop and mobile operating systems and platforms. Let’s take a closer look at them.

5.1 Web interface

To access all your files on any computer without installing the desktop or mobile app, you can use the Dropbox web interface. Unlike most competitors, you can use even a mobile browser, not only a desktop one.

The home page displays the basic information related to your files and account. On the left, you can access the Files, Paper, and Showcase tabs. On the right, you can create a new file, shared folder, or upload a file or folder. Having clicked on the profile picture, you will be able to access the Dropbox settings or download the apps.

The Files tab is the place with all the information about your files and folders. In addition, you can check the shared files and folders, file requests or deleted files, as well as create or upload files or folders and create new shared folders.

In the Settings tab, you will be able to configure your account and apply detailed settings. In turn, this tab is divided into General, Plan, Security, Notifications, and Connected apps.

For example, in the security settings, you can run the security checkup, change the password, activate or deactivate the two-factor authentication, as well as manage the connected browsers and devices.

5.2 Desktop apps

The desktop applications are available for Windows, macOS, and even Linux. Dropbox is one of few cloud storage providers who offer a full-fledged Linux application. We tested their application for Windows 10.

First, you need to download the installation file from the official website. When you run the web installer, the wizard will download all the required files and install the app. It took us several minutes to complete this process. The application will create a sync folder. If you do not like the location set automatically, you can change it manually. The application is accessible through the Windows taskbar. In its main window, you can check the synchronization status, notifications, and recent files, as well as open the Dropbox folder on your PC, Dropbox Paper and the web version.

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Some additional options are available by clicking the gearwheel icon.

The Preferences window is divided into General, Account, Import, Bandwidths, Proxies, Notifications, and Sync. You can apply all the basic settings related to your account and the application itself.

5.3 Mobile apps

The mobile applications allow you to access your files everywhere on the go. The mobile apps are available for Android and iOS and you can get them in the respective app store. We tested the app on an Android-based Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus. In the beginning, the application requests to start the free trial or remain on the free plan.

The home screen displays your recent files and allows you to upload new files or create folders. For that, tap on the + button.

In the Files tab, you can access all your files and folders. Moreover, this is also where you will be able to sort them out.

In here, you can also access the upload menu. Thus, you can upload files, photos, and videos, create a new text file or folder, take a photo or scan a document, and even transfer files that are located on your computer. We will provide more details about the latter feature.

In the sidebar, you will be able to see the available volume, as well as access basic features including photos, files, offline mode, Paper, notifications, account upgrade, and settings.

The settings menu is quite detailed so you are able to configure a lot of things.

Security

65 % – Decent

For a long-standing service, Dropbox lags behind many providers when it comes to security. The gold standard in security for cloud storage services is zero-knowledge encryption, a feature that Dropbox is missing. Dropbox holds encryption keys on its servers, which potentially allows for third-party access.

The lack of zero-knowledge encryption means Dropbox staff, law enforcement and hackers have a greater chance of accessing your files. Because of this omission, many users turn to the best zero-knowledge cloud services out there, such as MEGA, Sync.com and pCloud.

Trade-Off Between Security and Integration

Because Dropbox has integration with other services, it means that all-around security is weakened. Allowing access to third parties such as Google and Microsoft means Dropbox can freely share your data with them. It’s a trade-off some users won’t like, but for those who don’t mind, there shouldn’t be too much of a concern. 

Otherwise, Dropbox uses industry-standard AES 256-bit encryption to protect your data at rest, and AES 128-bit encryption for data in transit. Dropbox also implements two-factor authentication for an extra layer of protection, should an unauthorized party try to access your account.

Security Breach

Although it has been almost a decade since it happened, Dropbox had a massive data breach back in 2012 that led to 68 million Dropbox user passwords being leaked. There hasn’t been any sign of breaches since, and Dropbox security has improved.

Customer Service

Dropbox offers lots of online support for users to access. The Dropbox Help Center and Community Forums are excellent resources for helpful information. If you can’t find the answer that you’re looking for, Dropbox has a chat and email support available.

From there, you can get direct assistance for technical support covering a wide range of topics. You will first need to log into your Dropbox account to access chat and email services.

If you are part of a Dropbox Business team, you can access Dropbox’s phone support service for customers. You will need to be a business admin to request a call from Dropbox support. This service is available during normal business hours.

If you need to request a call, you will first have to sign in to your Dropbox account. On the left sidebar is an area called “Admin console.” Once accessed, click on “Help” and then “Phone.”

Enter your phone number and click on “Request a call.” Within a matter of seconds, you should receive a phone call from a Dropbox customer service support member.

This process is quick and easy and ensures that business teams have access to the support they need.

Cons

As we’ve touched on already, Dropbox is pricier than much of its competition. Of course, you do get perks and features that are exclusive to Dropbox. Still, if you’re on a tight budget and trying to save money, Dropbox may not be the best option for you.

Furthermore, Dropbox Basic is extremely limited in what you can do with it. Whereas other free cloud storage services offer huge storage, Dropbox appears to be rather greedy with its free offerings.

You get just 2GB of storage in Basic. Similar free services offer five times as much. You’re also severely limited on features. If you want to get the most from this software, you’re going to have to upgrade.

Dropbox: Whats new in 2022?

While Dropbox’s pricing plans have remained fairly constant over the years, the cloud storage provider has consistently added new features with each update. In fact, you’ll find new features and announcements on the provider’s product updates page each month. Dropbox also frequently adds new apps to the Dropbox App Center to enhance users’ productivity and workflow. 

In November 2020, Dropbox added three new security features—alerts and notifications, external sharing reports, and data classification—to keep your distributed team organized and secure. In March 2021, a new data disposition feature was added as part of Dropbox’s Data Governance add-on. 

With it, admins can create policies so that data will be deleted a certain period after a file was created or uploaded to Dropbox. Team admins will also be able to monitor activity by receiving reports alerting them of upcoming file deletions.

The Verdict

Remember, Dropbox is the pioneer of the cloud storage market. The other options you see today are all built on the same foundations that Dropbox had before them. Does that mean Dropbox is the best? No. However, it’s certainly up there, especially in terms of usability, speed and performance.

However, privacy lets this giant down, and competitors have taken the lead by recognizing how important privacy is to cloud users. Whether that makes Dropbox a bad choice depends on who you are.

If you don’t want anyone — including the service provider — looking at your information, then it’s a good idea to go with an alternative, like Sync.com, pCloud or MEGA.

However, those who need a reliable solution for backing up files, collaboration and the opportunity to use third-party apps should consider Dropbox. You just need to be content with giving up certain levels of privacy relating to your data.

What do you think about our Dropbox review? We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the service in the comments below, especially if you feel we’ve missed a flaw or feature that deserves extra attention. As always, thanks for reading.

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