Dropbox is one of the best-known cloud storage companies right now and as a result of their name recognition they have attracted a large following over the years.
Sadly, however, Dropox is not without it’s issues – and it seems from our perspective that more and more people are searching for better Dropbox alternatives.
With this is mind let’s take a look at some of the most common problems with Dropbox before looking at some Dropbox alternatives that may be better suited to your requirements…
Common Problems With Dropbox
There are two kinds of people who use Dropbox on a regular basis. First are those who use it to quickly share and sync large files. Dropbox makes it easy to sync files between multiple computers and/or share large, unwieldy files with others. For these purposes, Dropbox is a strong player and an excellent solution.
The problems arise with the second group of people; those looking to use Dropbox as a cloud backup solution – in other words to create a “copy” of your existing hard drive so that in the case of theft or accidental loss the contents of your computer may be recovered quickly and easily.
So where do these Dropbox problems come from? What are the issues you should be aware of if you’re considering Dropbox as an online storage solution?
No Automatic Backup
The first big issue is the way in which Dropbox’s software works. In essence Dropbox creates a special “Dropbox” folder on your computer. Dragging files into this folder then causes them to sync with the Dropbox servers. By entering the same credentials on a number of computers, each user can access this “shared” folder and the files within it.
Unfortunately though, dragging the required files into your Dropbox account is a manual process. I don’t know about you, but I have literally thousands of files on my hard drive and having to manually drag each of them into my Dropbox folder doesn’t sound like much fun.
Contrast this to some of the better Dropbox alternatives likes Livedrive who offer software that automatically backs up all the files on your hard drive, including even new files as you create them, and you can see why some of their competitors are starting to gain ground.
Dropbox successfully draws in new customers by offering a free account to anyone that wants one. This currently stands at 2 GB and is an excellent introduction to not just Dropbox but also cloud backup as a whole. The problems start to show though with any other than occasional users.
You see, 2 GB isn’t actually much space – not when you compare it to the size of your hard drive. If you need more space, the fees start to kick in. At the time of writing these were $9.99 a month for 100 GB. Note that this cost *excludes* unlimited file versioning and file recovery, which both cost an additional $3.99 a month, taking your monthly cost up to a potetial $17.97 for 100 GB of storage.
When you compare these rates to some of the Dropbox alternatives it becomes clear that there are better offers out there. For example $6 a month buys you unlimited cloud backup space at Livedrive while Safecopy offers 200 GB of storage for just $50 a year. Put in this context, Dropbox can be a pretty expensive solution to your backup needs.
Repeated Security Breaches
Over the last few years Dropbox has been unlucky enough to be the recipient of some high profile security breaches, including one that made any Dropbox-stored file fully accessible.
Now it is worth reminding ourselves that Dropbox is one of the best-known cloud storage companies and so glitches with their service will likely receive more attention than elsewhere. That said, anyone considering Dropbox would be wise to think carefully about the repeated security problems over the years. More information on the subject can be found here.
So does Dropbox suck? This would be taking the situation too far we believe, but if you want to securely back up your hard drive there are some better alternatives to Dropbox that are better value, easier to use and more feature-rich.
So let’s take a look at a few contenders…
Dropbox Alternatives: 5 Online Backup Services To Consider
So if you were considering signing up with Dropbox but have changed your mind or are a current customer looking for a better alternative, what providers are worth considering?
We mentioned Livedrive earlier on – and with good reason. In essence they are one of the best online backup companies around right now sitting in the “sweet spot” between feature-rich and reasonable cost.
For example Livedrive separate out online backup and file sharing. If you just want a Dropbox alternative for file sharing you can select their Briefcase option. If you want cloud storage you can select their Online Backup solution. Or if you want both services you can select a package where they’re both rolled in.
This “modular” approach helps to keep your costs down and ensure you only py for what you’ll use. With unlimited backup, a Gold Award from Web User magazine (describing it as “the best cloud storage device”) and a free 2 week trial it’s no wonder that Livedrive is currently the most popular cloud storage provider on both sides of the pond.
JustCloud is a relative newbie to the online storage world but has quickly established a strong pedigree. For speed and security JustCloud uses server capacity from Google so you can be certain your files have the best possible protection.
They offer unlimited storage accounts at very reasonable proces though for those looking for the cheapest cloud storage around, consider their 75GB account which clocks in at just $4.49 a month at the time of writing.
Safecopy can be a good solution for those looking for larger storage space than a free Dropbox account offers without wanting to pay over the odds. Their smaller accounts are incredibly competitively priced.
That said, be aware that if you’re looking for a lot of storage (for videos, photos etc.) then some of the other alternatives to Dropbox mentioned here will likely work out cheaper for you.
Safecopy boasts an impressive range of features at present, most notably unlimited file versions and support for unlimited computers meaning that with one single account you can access the files on your hard drive from any internet-connected device.
Gaining quite a reputation for low-cost backup is Backblaze. Their unlimited backup option is priced at just $5 a month though you should be aware that there is a compromise for this low-cost. Namely unlike some other alternatives they won’t back up your operating system or program files. For some people this won’t be a problem, however if you have plenty of software that would be difficult or expensive to reinstall in the case of an accident you may want to consider another provider.
Over the last few years I’ve personally used SugarSync extensively on multiple computers and mobile handsets. I’ve found their software to be fast and reliable and am a huge fan of their offering.
Infact, I was able to download the software, install it and configure a backup on my girlfriends computer in a matter of minutes. It’s so hands-off that she now doesn’t need to do a thing in order to maintain a safe, secure backup of all her files.
I only recently moved away from Sugarsync to Livedrive purely because on investigation I realized that a number of the Dropbox alternatives mentioned here offer even more features for a lower cost. In short, SugarSync is a great service though in terms of value-for-money some other providers manage to trump them.