Dropbox alternatives

Dropbox was one of the best apps ever created. The original program was magic – a game changer for getting organized and gold standard for how easy-to-use a cloud service should be. But for years the walls have been closing in – new features that are hard to opt out of (e.g. “Smart Sync”), price increases, an Electron app. The latest insult is that they’ve been unable to ship an M1 binary, so an already bloated app runs even more slowly and resource hungry. The company’s now aiming for a release in H1 2022, which will be a full two years after the first M1 developer kits shipped in June 2020.

Yesterday, I solicited feedback on good alternatives on Twitter and got back quite a few thoughtful responses which I’ll collate here.

First I’ll mention Maestral, which is an alternate Dropbox client that I hadn’t heard of. Migrating off of Dropbox is going to be a painful multi-day effort, so it’s far easier to give this a try first. I’ve been test driving it today to great success – it’s highly refined, about 10x lighter weight than the official app, so far bug-free even on my 100 GB+ account, and most importantly, has an M1 build. It doesn’t have all the fancy kernel integrations, but even as someone who’d occasionally use right-click to create share links, I still consider their absence to be a feature overall.

Besides that, by far the most mentioned Dropbox alternatives are:

  • Google Drive: This one’s attractive – drive space is shareable with Gmail, you almost certainly have a Google account already, and they’re not going anywhere.
  • iCloud Drive: Another big one that many of us are integrated with already. My main aversion to this one is that I don’t really trust Apple with anything that’s file-like or web-like. I played around with the iCloud web interface and link sharing in Finder and it was rough.

Pricing is consistent across the board for the larger plans across all the majors – Dropbox is $9.99 for 2 TB, Google is $9.99 for 1 TB, and Apple is $9.99 for 2 TB.

Other options that came up:

  • Nextcloud – Open-source self-hosted storage and productivity system.
  • Proton Drive – From the ProtonMail people. No native apps as of yet though.
  • Syncthing – Open-source program that synchronizes between two computers.
  • Tresorit – Encrypted hosted service. $30 / month for 2.5 TB.

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