Cloud-based storage with Dropbox a viable contender against its competitors
by Michael Hawker
Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage service, and one that I personally have used (which is why I am highlighting it here, and I even learned more about it than I had previously known).
It really is as simple as dragging and dropping files.
There are no file size restrictions, and free storage is available up to 2 GB. This means anyone can at least try Dropbox without cost. The paid Pro plan is $10/month for up to 500 GB. Some other cloud-based storage service plans cost the same for only 250 GB or 100 GB.
Dropbox supports Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, as does other services, but Dropbox also supports Blackberry and Kindle Fire. So for those wishing for more storage on mobile devices, Dropbox is an excellent option.
Dropbox is relatively easy to use. It works equally well on both PCs and Macs. I have both and have used both. There are a few choices for users:
1) Files loaded onto its cloud storage are available from Dropbox’s website. I have not used the website before, and I have read reviews that it is not so hot.
2) Files may be dragged and dropped into the storage (or off the storage) using a desktop application.
3) Files may also be transferred by using the mobile apps
I personally use the desktop application, which does require the downloading of their program. It simply places an icon on the desktop. Files are easily moved back and forth from/to the Dropbox storage by simply dragging and dropping to the icon, or by clicking open the icon to get files from the cloud.
If the user is working as part of a team, perhaps up to 50 users, there is a “Teams” plan with centralized billing and administrative tools. It starts at $15 per month, starting with 5 users. For work groups, and especially those transferring large files and for short-term projects, this could be a super and cost effective feature.
Dropbox offers an incentive that if you recruit a friend to use Dropbox, the original user gains 500 MB extra storage per friend, and up to 16 GB total (32 referrals). This is an excellent feature and one that is smart from Dropbox to offer.
For security, Dropbox uses 256-bit AES encryption and transfers files through a secure tunnel using SSL/TLS protocols. I do not know how it compares with other cloud-based security measures.
Users must have credentials, such as a password, so some of the burden in security does rely on safe password protection measures (frequently changing passwords and using ones that are “strong”). In October, there was an attempt by hackers to obtain information, images, and allegedly millions of usernames and passwords, but Dropbox investigated that the stolen credentials were from other services’ sites. Dropbox was proactive by resetting all the credentials for its users. The incident clearly suggests that hackers will stop short of nothing to obtain information and any user must be aware of those risks.