I’m Keeping Dropbox

Last month I wrote about my attempt to abandon Dropbox. I had a few good reasons for that. First, I don’t like the way Dropbox installs itself on my Mac. Dropbox goes way beyond a typical Mac application with its install, including an entirely separate file manager. Second, Dropbox prices are going up while my usage is going down. So it seemed like a good idea to see if I could get by without it for a few months and hopefully make the right decision about renewal.

Well, I’m keeping it. But not for the reasons you are probably thinking.

iCloud Drive and sharing have not failed me. On the contrary, they have worked better than I expected. I have kept a lot of data on iCloud, and I have not had any show-stopper problems. I am currently working on a new edition of the Paperless Field Guide. I am running the entire editing workflow through a series of shared iCloud folders, and it has worked exactly as expected. Granted, there is still plenty of work to do with iCloud Drive, but it is working well enough to handle sharing when I am in control of sharing.

The trouble is those instances where I am not in control. For example, I have many clients who have never heard of iCloud Drive and do not own Macs. They have, however, all heard of and installed Dropbox. When you work in a service industry, adopting a technology that requires your clients to change their technology never works. Also, I make three separate podcasts that invite guests who also sometimes do not have access to iCloud. In the end, I am keeping Dropbox—not for myself but for others.

Somewhat related, I did not install the Dropbox app on my laptop but instead use their web interface when I need to access my Dropbox storage. It cuts me out of a lot of automation, and it is generally slower, but I can avoid its intrusive install this way.

All that said, Dropbox still has many features that sure would be nice in iCloud, like a much better implementation of version history and deletion recovery. I was hoping we would get some more functionality for iCloud Drive this year at WWDC, but we didn’t. I was hoping I could throw Dropbox overboard. One less service and one less thing to pay for sure sounded nice.