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Dropbox Annoyances

A while back I was caught in the dilemma of finding one cloud storage to store them all. On my list of potential services were Dropbox, SugarSync, CrashPlan, and SpiderOak. In the end I decided to sign up for SugarSync for my day to day collaboration needs and CrashPlan for my long term backup solution. It seemed the goals of collaboration and sharing versus long term storage and archival were not adequate addressed by a single solution.

Fast forward to today, and I have been using Dropbox heavily for day to day uses and have a background CrashPlan running here and there storing that emergency backup just in case all else fails. While I originally turned away from Dropbox because of (1) its single folder setup (2) Lack of selective syncing and (3) less than ideal encryption and privacy policies, I came back because of its amazingly simple and straight forward installation, use, and ability to share.

Yet, today was the day all that changed.

Cloud based storage systems like Dropbox and SugarSync follow a single user model. Sharing and collaboration is done through sharing folders. While at first this struck me as limiting for collaboration, I now consider this functionality simple and ingenious. Individual users have their own private data storage, their own private password, etc etc.. A shared folder is pushed from the author/maintainer/controller, and can be easily monitored and controlled as such.

The biggest problem with Dropbox for collaboration is that Shared Folders count against the quota for each person involved. So if you share a 1 gig folder to a friend w/a free DropBox account, you are taking 1 gig out of his 2 gigs. Dropbox says this is to prevent people gaming the system for free space. So, lets say I go Pro and pay for the space. I still won’t be able to share any folder that exceeds the free space/quota of who I want to share with. The only way to have communal space is through Dropbox for Teams— Which start at $795!

A reasonable solutions to this issue would for Dropbox to have Shared Folders not count against the quotas of the recipients ASSUMING you are Pro. You are paying for the space after all. Whats wrong with letting others access your files? Short of just sharing a file by URL. Think about it this way.. Let say you want to have cloud storage for your small business. You have 200MB of confidential data and 20GB of communal data. Its not possible to have a master account that contains both confidential and communal data with administrator rights. Yes it is possible to put the larger communal data in shared account, and share it with a more private confidential account— but security controls is bottom up rather than top down in this case! Until I can afford the jump from $100 a year to $795 a year for Dropbox for Teams, it looks like SugarSync has made a convert out of me.


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