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Dropbox cloud storage review 2021

Pioneering cloud storage with advanced collaborative features

Dropbox logo
(Image: © Dropbox)

Our Verdict

Dropbox is a feature-rich cloud storage provider with advanced collaborative tools and comprehensive pricing options. Its lack of zero-knowledge encryption, however, may be a reason for some to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • Advanced collaborative tools
  • Software integration
  • Many pricing options

Cons

  • No zero-knowledge encryption
  • Unimpressive upload/download speed
  • Quite pricey

ITProPortal Verdict

Dropbox is a feature-rich cloud storage provider with advanced collaborative tools and comprehensive pricing options. Its lack of zero-knowledge encryption, however, may be a reason for some to look elsewhere.

Pros

  • + Advanced collaborative tools
  • + Software integration
  • + Many pricing options

Cons

  • - No zero-knowledge encryption
  • - Unimpressive upload/download speed
  • - Quite pricey

Dropbox, a pioneering cloud storage platform, offers advanced collaborative tools, an intuitive interface, and smooth software integration for you to optimize your workflow and improve your productivity. It's one of the best cloud storage platforms.

Dropbox review: Snapshot

The platform offers multiple tiers of pricing options, with the pricier plans including more advanced features. Our Dropbox review also found that the platform is committed to improving user experience and performance with frequent upgrades and new features.

During our testing, however, we were unimpressed by Dropbox’s speed—both its upload/download speed and the consistency of its customer support response time. Dropbox’s lack of zero-knowledge encryption is also a major source of concern. Taking into consideration the platform’s relatively costly plans, Dropbox leaves us expecting more. 

However, if security and support aren’t essential to you, Dropbox remains a worthy contender among the best cloud storage platforms on the market.

Score: 4/5

Read on for the full review.


Dropbox's competitors

How does Dropbox compare to its main competitors?
DropboxMicrosoft OneDrivepCloud
Score4/53.5/54/5
ProsComprehensive pricing plans - Strong collaborative capabilities - Software integrationSeamless integration with Microsoft products - Able to edit documents online without downloadingAdvanced file sharing tools - File versioning - 10GB of free storage
ConsOnly 2GB of free storage - No zero-knowledge encryption - Relatively costlyOnly 5GB of free storage - No zero-knowledge encryption - Quite priceyNo real-time collaboration - Interface isn’t very sleek
VerdictDropbox’s multiple pricing plans, advanced features, and intuitive interface, earns the platform its reputation as one of the world’s most popular cloud storage platforms.If you rely heavily on Microsoft Office apps, OneDrive seems like the obvious choice. But if they’re not that important to you, there are better options out there.pCloud is a popular cloud storage app with file versioning, password-protected sharing, and hard drive extension.
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Dropbox: Key features

As a pioneer in cloud storage, Dropbox offers plenty of features for collaborating and sharing. We’ll look at some of Dropbox’s features to see how the cloud storage provider matches up against its competition. 

On Dropbox, any file that you save can be backed up and synced. If you have more than one device connected to your account, changes you make will be saved across all devices. Particularly useful is a Smart Sync function, which lets you choose what files you’d like to sync to your hard drive. Unselected files will remain solely on the cloud, potentially saving you precious disk space. 

Dropbox shines in its collaborative and sharing tools. On your desktop or mobile, you can quickly share a file with any recipient—Dropbox user or not. We loved that files shared via a link are free of bandwidth limits.

To work with others in real time, make use of Dropbox Paper, a collaborative document-editing service with a clean and simple interface. With it, you’re able to assign tasks and create to-do lists. You can also embed videos or insert audio links onto Dropbox Paper, which is a versatile and uncommon feature.

But with easy sharing and collaboration, conflicting file versions are likely to occur. Dropbox Rewind, a file-versioning feature, helps you combat that. On the Basic, Plus, and Family accounts, you can rewind your document back to any time in the last 30 days. The more expensive Professional, Standard, and Advanced plans enable you to go back 180 days. This feature has definitely saved users from unwanted edits and accidental deletions.

Dropbox: Key features and highlights

Image 1 of 4

Dropbox's Smart Sync feature demonstrated

Smart Sync lets you choose what files you’d like to sync to your hard drive (Image credit: Dropbox)
Image 2 of 4

Dropbox Paper in use

Paper is Dropbox’s collaborative document-editing service (Image credit: Dropbox)
Image 3 of 4

Dropbox's third party integrations

Dropbox integrates smoothly with your favorite apps and software (Image credit: Dropbox)
Image 4 of 4

Dropbox's security features

Dropbox lacks zero-knowledge encryption, which is a big drawback (Image credit: Dropbox)

We all know how troublesome it could be when our software doesn’t integrate with some of our favorite apps like Final Draft, Slack, or Gmail. But with Dropbox’s seamless software integrations, you can take your workflow and productivity to the next level and perform many tasks right from Dropbox. 

For example, using Dropbox’s integration with Slack, you can start a conversation right from Dropbox, post Paper docs right from Slack, and save content directly to a Dropbox folder. 

Dropbox offers 256-bit AES encryption and additional security tools like two-factor authentication. On the Professional, Plus, and Family accounts, you’ll have access to Dropbox Vault, a PIN-protected folder that enables you to secure and organize your sensitive files. 

Beyond that, however, security is Dropbox’s Achilles’ heel—if you’re looking for a cloud storage provider with zero-knowledge encryption, Dropbox isn’t right for you. Without zero-knowledge encryption, Dropbox itself holds the key to decrypt your files and can access them. More detrimentally, should there be a data breach, hackers could access your files if they break into Dropbox’s servers. 

Dropbox: What’s new?

While Dropbox’s pricing plans have remained fairly constant over the years, the cloud storage provider has consistently added new features with each update. In fact, you’ll find new features and announcements on the provider’s product updates page each month. Dropbox also frequently adds new apps to the Dropbox App Center to enhance users’ productivity and workflow. 

In November 2020, Dropbox added three new security features—alerts and notifications, external sharing reports, and data classification—to keep your distributed team organized and secure.

In its latest update in March 2021, a new data disposition feature was added as part of Dropbox’s Data Governance add-on. With it, admins can create policies so that data will be deleted a certain period after a file was created or uploaded to Dropbox. Team admins will also be able to monitor activity by receiving reports alerting them of upcoming file deletions.

Dropbox: Pricing

Dropbox offers three personal plans—Basic, Plus, and Family—and three business plans—Professional, Standard, and Advanced. Like many cloud storage providers, Dropbox offers a free basic plan with 2GB of storage and limited features. On all its paid plans, you’ll save money each month if you choose to be billed yearly.

Dropbox's pricing plans
Plan type / FeatureBasic (Free)PlusFamilyProfessionalStandardAdvanced
Cost per monthFree$11.99$19.99$19.99$15 per user$25 per user
Cost per yearFree$119.88$203.88$1198.96$150 per user$240 per user
Storage2GB2TB2TB3TB5TBUnlimited
Users11Max 61Min 3Min 3
Devices3UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Dropbox RewindX30-day history30-day history180-day history180-day history180-day history
File lockingXXX
Document watermarkingXXX
Priority email supportX

Testing Dropbox

To better benchmark Dropbox against its competitors, we analyzed its upload speeds, which are a key factor in terms of cloud storage, and the response times for its customer support.

How fast is Dropbox?

Dropbox's settings for download and upload limits

Despite removing bandwidth limits, Dropbox’s speed is rather unimpressive (Image credit: Dropbox)

Dropbox allows you to manage how much bandwidth your internet uses to run the Dropbox desktop app. This way, you can control how fast (or slow) you’d like Dropbox to run. The service claims that with a good internet connection, its service will speed up if you allow it the maximum amount of bandwidth possible. 

We tested Dropbox’s claims with a stable and fast internet connection (255Mbps download, 46Mbps upload). When downloading and uploading a 1GB video, however, Dropbox transferred at an unimpressive rate of about 70mbps. 

We then clocked the amount of time Dropbox required to upload a 100MB MP4 file, and compared it with the time it took OneDrive to do the same. On its web interface, Dropbox took about 42 seconds to upload the file. OneDrive, on the other hand, required only 33 seconds. 

Speed-wise, Dropbox leaves us slightly disappointed. But the average user who does not require uploads to be lightning fast should not be too affected.

How responsive is Dropbox's customer support?

An email from Dropbox's customer support

Dropbox’s customer support is hit-or-miss (Image credit: Dropbox)

Dropbox takes pride in its customer support’s responsiveness. On its community forum, Dropbox’s moderator claims that upon submitting a ticket support request, users should expect a reply in one to three working days. 

Emails from users with a paid account will be prioritized. Business account users enjoy 24-hour live chat support, and Standard and Advanced users get additional phone support during business hours. 

Because there wasn't any way for us to get in touch with anyone from Dropbox with a Basic account, we signed for a free trial for a Professional account, and submitted a support ticket to Dropbox to have some files restored. 

Despite its claims that business accounts will receive priority support, we did not receive a reply after more than a week. A quick search on Dropbpx's community forum and online forums like Reddit also found many reviews lamenting Dropbox’s unresponsive customer support. 

But because we also found reviews left by customers who were more than pleased with its support, we repeated the test with another trial account. This time, we got a reply from a friendly agent within a day. Evidently, Dropbox’s customer support is hit-or-miss.

Alternatives to Dropbox

Competition is stiff among the saturated cloud storage market, but Dropbox holds its own, especially with its advanced file-sharing and collaborative features. pCloud, for comparison, does not offer real-time editing and collaboration—you've got to download the file, edit it locally, and upload the new version. 

Dropbox Paper’s formatting options, however, pale in comparison to OneDrive's text-formatting features and fonts, thanks to its integration with Microsoft apps. 

In terms of price per terabyte, Dropbox is quite pricey compared to its competitors. For comparison, a free pCloud plan gets you 10GB of storage, and $7.99 a month gets you 2TB. Similarly, OneDrive grants you 5GB of storage with its free plan. 

Dropbox also misses out on zero-knowledge encryption, a feature that pCloud offers as an add-on for $47.88 a year. Users who prioritize security may therefore look to pCloud as a viable option.

As explained in our test for customer support response time, Dropbox's customer support isn't all that impressive. It is, however, more comprehensive than pCloud's customer support, which lacks a live chat for troubleshooting. If customer support is paramount to you, consider OneDrive—in addition to chat, email, and phone support, customers with Business plans can access customized support options.

Find out more about both of these competitors by reading our comprehensive pCloud review and our OneDrive review.

Dropbox's features compared to the competition
DropboxOneDrivepCloud
Zero-knowledge encryptionNoNoYes (with upgrade)
Real-time collaborationYesYesNo
SupportChatbot, live chat, email, phone, help centerKnowledge base, email, phone, online chatKnowledge base, email, phone
Basic plan$11.99 a month$1.99 a month$4.99 a month

Dropbox: The verdict

Dropbox presents two major benefits to its users: workflow optimization and consistent feature upgrades. In terms of the former, Dropbox's seamless app integrations and advanced collaborative features can help you to increase your team's productivity and efficiency. 

Dropbox's commitment to continually add new services and features goes to show that the cloud storage provider constantly seeks to improve. We also love that there is an option on its website for customers to share ideas for new features with the Dropbox team. 

While it isn't revolutionary, Dropbox’s simple interface is worth mentioning. Setting up an account is a breeze: all you have to do is choose a plan and download the Dropbox app on your desktop or mobile. Dropbox will also fully integrate into any operating system. 

Whether you're on Dropbox's desktop, mobile, or web interface, you'll find an intuitive menu where you can view, create, or upload files and folders. Files can be easily dragged and dropped into folders. 

Beyond these strengths, however, Dropbox leaves us yearning for more, especially when the service sees a higher price tag as compared to its competitors. We were bothered by the fact that Dropbox does not offer zero-knowledge encryption even as an add-on feature. But we were left even more disappointed by its hit-or-miss customer support and below-average upload/download speeds. 

Taken together, Dropbox remains a great option for users who prioritize storage, features, integration, and ease of use. If you deal with highly sensitive files or frequently need to download and upload extremely large files, however, you may be better served by another cloud storage provider.

Further reading on cloud storage

Find out more about Dropbox in our comparison features that pit Google Drive vs Dropbox and OneDrive vs Dropbox. Our Dropbox Business review meanwhile covers the company's offering for businesses.

The Verdict
4

out of 5

Dropbox cloud storage review 2021

Dropbox is a feature-rich cloud storage provider with advanced collaborative tools and comprehensive pricing options. Its lack of zero-knowledge encryption, however, may be a reason for some to look elsewhere.