iCloud Drive or Dropbox

I signed up for a Free 2 GB Dropbox account when it was announced10 years ago. Today I have 10 GB of storage on my free account; that’s the 2 GB I got when I signed up plus what I earned for bonuses and referrals. I only use about half of the 10 GB. Until recently that’s where I have stored almost all of my files.

A few months ago I was close to using up my free 5 GB of iCloud storage so I subscribed to the $0.99 per month 50 GB plan. Having heard that several folks, including David Sparks who’s opinions I respect, had moved over to iCloud Drive from Dropbox I decided to do the same since I’m paying for 50 GB.

Since moving my files to iCloud I’ve been second guessing this decision. Here’s why. To me, Dropbox sync is faster and more reliable. I occasionally read or hear horror stories of folks who have had serious iCloud problems. I’ve personally have had issues with iCloud sync. Nothing serious. Just times when things don’t sync. This has had made me considering moving back to Dropbox.

But hears the deal breaker with going back to Dropbox. It was just announced that Dropbox Free Basic is now limited to just three devices. That’s a problem for me because I have four.

I think Kirk McElhearn put this into perspective quite nicely in this post on his blog.

Dropbox has announced that users of free accounts will no longer be able to link more than three devices to their accounts. Those who had linked more devices prior to March 2019 will be able to continue to use them, but will not be able to link any additional devices.

for years, Dropbox has promoted its free service, and now it’s imposing a limit. It’s true that, for many users, this three-device limit will not be a problem, but for others it will. I have five devices linked to my Dropbox account: my iMac (my main computer), my MacBook Pro (my secondary computer), my iPhone, iPad, and a Mac mini server. Actually, there are more; an Android phone I use for testing, and an iPad mini I use for reading occasionally. I don’t need the last two, but in my work I do use the others.

The problem is that Dropbox doesn’t have a low-priced, low-GB plan. I’d happily pay, say, $20 a year for 100 GB, because I am aware that I’ve been getting this service for free for many years. But I’m not spending $100 a year.

Here’s some good advice from Lifehacker if you’re an existing user.

How to Unlink Dropbox Devices to Meet the New Limits for Free Users

Going forward, if you have a free Dropbox account, you’re going to want to make a mental plan for how you plan to use the service. In other words, think about how you use Dropbox on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis: Where do you get the most frequent benefits? Where does it save you the most time? Where do you access your files a lot versus sparingly? Take all elements, weigh them in your head, and use that to help you decide which devices should have access to your account and which will not. It’s a pain—and a silly pain, given that so many of us live in a multi-device world—but it will save you time and frustration as you transition to the new, limited life of a Dropbox free user.