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Dropping Dropbox: Exploring alternatives

Christopher Breen | July 8, 2014
For purely personal reasons I've chosen to abandon Dropbox. But that doesn't mean my desire to share files with others has likewise vanished. I need an alternative that includes many of the things offered by Dropbox.

OneDrive is left wanting in its support within other apps. Good.iWare's GoodReader and Readdle's Documents 5 allow importing and exporting files with OneDrive but many other apps don't. Microsoft lags in security as well. In July the company intends to encrypt files on its servers (termed "at rest") for those accounts enrolled in its business plans but there's been no word of how the data for free accounts will be treated. Other services encrypt data in transit and at rest.

Google Drive: So much storage

Before Microsoft lowered its OneDrive prices and increased its free storage limit, Google Drive was the original low-cost leader in terms of free and paid storage. Currently, Google Drive provides you with 15 GB of storage for free. though this storage is shared among Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos. You can purchase an additional 100 GB for $25 a year and a terabyte of storage costs $120 a year.

Unlike with OneDrive you can open the Google Drive folder on your Mac and, with a command from the contextual menu, share a file or folder. To do so, just add email addresses to the Invite People field and click Send. By default those you share with can edit items, but you can restrict their interaction with them to viewing only.

As with other services, when the recipient receives a message indicating that they've been added to a shared item, they click on the link to the item, their default web browser opens, and they can then download the item. If the file is compatible with Google Docs the recipient can open and edit it within their browser. Support for native editing of Microsoft Office documents within Google Drive is being rolled out, but that feature hasn't been rolled my way yet.

Attractive though Google's offering may be, when considering any of the company's services you must give a thought to privacy. Google's existence relies on advertising, and the more it knows about you (and the contents of your data) the more valuable your information is to the advertisers that are its primary customers. You can take steps to encrypt your data before trusting it to Google Drive, but doing so can be a cumbersome process.

SugarSync can be sweet — for a price

At one time SugarSync was another "me too" cloud service. Sign on and you could have 5 GB of cloud storage for free. Those days are now over. (SugarSync offers a 5 GB trial, but it's good only for 90 days.) To use the service today you must pay a minimum of $7.50 a month (or $75 a year) for 60 GB of storage. 100 GB costs $10 a month or $100 a year and storage amounts and prices go up from there.


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