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What is Dropbox? An Explanation for 2022

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Associate Editor)
— Last Updated: 2020-07-10T11:26:01+00:00

With complex pricing structures and overlapping feature sets, it may be hard to find the best cloud storage for you. One of the options you may consider is Dropbox, given its popularity. In this article, we’ll look into what makes Dropbox different from its competitors and whether it’s worth the security issues and price tag.

As our full Dropbox review shows, this service really shines when you need to sync or share files. Its tools for collaboration and its ability to run on almost any computer or mobile device make it an ideal storage solution for many users.

However, nothing is without its drawbacks, and Dropbox’s security is a risk some users may not be willing to take. So unless you’re using encryption software, such as Boxcryptor, you may be better off looking elsewhere to store and share your files.

What Is Dropbox?

Although cloud storage has been around for a long time, Dropbox brought it from a niche market to a well-known industry. It hasn’t lost that initial success, either, and it had more than 600 million users in 2019.

With Dropbox, you can easily sync files between your devices and the cloud. This will give you access to all your documents, whenever and wherever you sign in. It’s also a powerful tool for any collaborative works, as you can share any file with other users with only a few clicks.

How Dropbox Works

As with most cloud storage providers, Dropbox has a series of data centers where it holds your files. The free Basic plan acts more like a multi-device backup tool, but the paid plans allow you to remove files from your hard drive without losing access, as long as you sync the file first.

Syncing files to the cloud with Dropbox is easy, even if they’re outside your Dropbox folder, and you likely won’t have any problems in normal use. However, there are many available resources if you do find that Dropbox isn’t syncing correctly.

One way Dropbox is different from its main competitors is that it uses block-level file copying to speed up file syncing. Although this does greatly enhance speeds after small changes, it’s inherently incompatible with zero-knowledge encryption, which isn’t ideal if you want to keep your files safe.

Reasons Why You Should Use Dropbox

So far, Dropbox has been a bit of a mixed bag. Below are some things that make this service stand out among the competition.

Built-in Sharing Functionality

You probably won’t be surprised that, as a contender for the best cloud storage for sharing, Dropbox comes with ways to easily and quickly share files. There are also plenty of options in the premium plans to alter how other users can access and edit these files.

Dropbox Smart Sync

Another available feature is the Dropbox smart sync option, which allows you to access certain files out of your storage without filling up your local hard drive. This is slower than other forms of sync, but it can help stretch out your local storage space. 

Ease of Use

Dropbox is also easier to use than many other providers. Its UI has clear labeling of each feature, and it isn’t filled with complicated terms and options. As long as you have access to the internet and a basic ability to use Windows File Explorer, anyone can learn how to use Dropbox.

It’s Available on All Devices

Not only is the service easy to use, but there is a browser version, a Dropbox app for mobile devices and support for all major operating systems. This means you can access your files on practically any internet-connected device.

Data Recovery

Dropbox allows you to revert your files back to a previous version — up to 30 days in the past — to reverse any accidental changes or damage to your data. Plus, the Professional plan extends this to 180 days. You can also rewind your entire account to a previous state, in case of a virus or ransomware attack.

Dropbox Paper

Dropbox Paper is the free word processor integrated into Dropbox’s main UI. Although it isn’t our favorite tool, it’s functional and will be good enough for most users, especially as it automatically syncs new documents to your account.

Is Dropbox Free?

Cybercrime Economy

You can use Dropbox for free on the Basic plan, but you will need an email address and a password to get started. Most of the core features are available here, although you will be limited to 2GB of storage and 100MB transfers.

You can also upgrade your account to a paid plan with a no-cost 30-day trial. However, you need to make sure you cancel your Dropbox subscription before it renews, or you may receive a monthly charge.

If you choose to continue with the premium plans, Dropbox Plus costs $9.99 per month for 2TB of storage. The extra space is the main upgrade, but this plan will also give you access to priority email support and features like “smart sync.”

The Professional plan is also available for $16.58 per month, which will increase your storage to 3TB and add extra options when sharing files. For a full breakdown of what each plan offers, read our full article on Dropbox’s pricing.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Dropbox deserves its position among the top cloud storage providers. It is a powerful tool for users who need to share files or sync documents regularly. It’s also one of the most straightforward online storage systems to set up and begin using.

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However, you may be concerned about how it handles data, and you aren’t alone. If you need to keep your files safe, our rundown of the best cloud storage for security has plenty of options that beat out Dropbox for privacy, but at the cost of speed and the ability to recover files.

Have you used Dropbox before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.