This was written in August of 2014. As technology marches forward, the prices and features of the products mentioned have probably gotten cheaper, bigger, faster, stronger, and better smelling. If you’re from the future and reading this, keep that in mind.
Last week Dropbox announced they were upgrading their $100 a year ($9 a month) Pro plan from 100 GB of storage to a massive 1 TB. (insert picture of Dr. Evil with his pinky to his mouth here). Because of that announcement Dropbox has been all over the tech news. In Windows Weekly #377 my friend Paul Thurrott comments that $99 a year is as much as a license for Office 365 Home, which gives you email, Office Web Apps, and 1 TB of OneDrive For Business (ODFB) for 5 people (5 TB total) . He wondered why anyone would pay the same amount for just storage, and 1/5 of the storage at that. I hope to provide a satisfactory answer to that question with this blog post.
I’ve been paying for Dropbox Pro for a couple of years and it’s worth every penny to me. This is the case even though I get a free Office 365 subscription because I’m an MVP. While I do use a bunch of the functionality of OneDrive and OneDrive for Business, there are a few things that Dropbox does so much better that it’s worth giving up a couple of of venti hot chocolates a month at Starbuck’s to pay for Dropbox Pro. Here is my list of why I pay for Dropbox Pro even though I get OneDrive and Office 365 for free.
File size limitation of 2 GB in OneDrive (250 MB in ODFB) , Infinity +1 in Dropbox
I store a lot of different types of files in Dropbox. Like most folks I store pictures up there and a few documents. But I also store all the videos from my Netcast there. I store a bunch of commonly used software installations up there as well. I have the database backups from my blog syncing to a machine at home through Dropbox. I’ve even been known to store a virtual machine or two in Dropbox. Using the desktop sync client, any file I copy into a Dropbox folder will show up on all the other machines syncing that same folder. When I first tried to move over to OneDrive that didn’t work. OneDrive has a hard file size limit of 2 GB. ODFB has a similar limit of 2 GB. Dropbox’s limit is infinity. If you have space in your Dropbox quota, the file will sync. 2 GB might be more than enough for most people, but I regularly deal with larger files so it’s a big deal for me.
Shared folders in OneDrive or ODFB don’t sync to the file system. Dropbox is happy to
Despite the fact that I’m an only child, I share pretty well, regardless of what my wife might say. With OneDrive or ODFB if I share a folder with someone it does not sync to their local hard drives, even if they have the desktop sync clients installed. Even if they ask nicely. That means if I share a folder with someone they have to go to OneDrive (or ODFB) with a browser, or the Metro OneDrive app to download the files I’ve shared with them. For some situations, this might not be a big deal, but it’s come up a few times for me. For instance, I have a shared Dropbox folder with my parents where I copy pictures of my cats and any of my artwork that’s refrigerator worthy. My parents have that same folder set up as a location for a slideshow screensaver. So as I proudly drop pictures into that folder on my computer, they magically sync to my mom’s hard drive and show up in her screensaver. She doesn’t have to remember to check for them, they’re just there.
Files don’t just have a URL in OneDrive or ODFB, you have to download them from a web page
If I share an individual file with someone in OneDrive, the link I send them takes them to a web page that hosts the file. It doesn’t take them to the actual file itself. Again, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s more work that they have to go through than if I share the same file the same way with Dropbox. If I send someone a link to a Word doc shared from Dropbox, the URL goes to that exact file. They could download it with PowerShell if they wanted to. With OneDrive and ODFB it’s a whole big affair.
OneDrive For Business alters Office files, Dropbox keeps its dirty mitts off of them
It recently came out that files stored in ODFB are actually altered when they’re uploaded. On the backend, ODFB is a SharePoint document library. When an Office document is uploaded to SharePoint it puts a unique tag in it so it can keep it straight from other copies of that file, or other versions of it. I understand why they do it, but it doesn’t seem necessary for non work files. Dropbox doesn’t change the files. I like that better.
While a few of these issues are pretty small potatoes, a couple of them (file size and local syncing) are show stoppers for me. As one as OneDrive or ODFB doesn’t support them, I’ll continue to happily pay for Dropbox.