Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Is it Time To Leave Dropbox?


I am a long-time user and fan of the popular file sync/backup service known as Dropbox.  Dropbox is a “storage in the cloud” service where you can save your files onto Dropbox and access them from the web onto other computers and mobile devices.  Lately though Dropbox has been getting some negative attention from a security breach and now a change in their terms of service.  Is it time to leave Dropbox?

Over the weekend, Dropbox revised their Terms of Service, Privacy Policy, and Security Overview. These changes were made in part to “simplify the language” of the policies, but also to respond to a security breach they experienced which allowed all Dropbox accounts to be accessible without passwords for several hours.  Also in the mix of bad news was the discovery that Dropbox employees could access files stored on dropbox as needed.  In total that’s a lot of bad press for Dropbox and it made me consider whether I wanted to continue to store my files with their service.

Last night, Dave Winer posted this article that is getting quite a bit of attention:  I’ve deleted my Dropbox Account   I’ve considered doing the same, but I probably will stick with Dropbox for now and here’s why:

  • I don’t put files “in the cloud” that have personal information on them.  I simply don’t trust any service to protect my data enough to place personal information on there.  This includes work documents, anything with banking-type information, personal data like birthdates etc.  I do think most of these service WANT to protect your stuff, but I don’t believe they can do as good of a job as I want them to.  Photos and files I wouldn’t cry over if they became public are the ones I’ll put “in the cloud”, but not the other stuff.
  • I don’t think the terms of service are as bad as Mr. Winer implied.  Yes there is some talk of giving Dropbox permission to share your documents in there but isn’t that kind of what you are giving up by putting your documents in the cloud with a service anyway?  Read this excellent overview of the new Dropbox Terms by the creator of 1Password (Agile Bits) to get your head around what the changes are and what they mean.
  • Dropbox is still one of the best if not THE best cloud storage service – especially with free storage.  There is plenty of competition in this space and they can’t afford to address users needs especially when it comes to privacy and security.

If you’re still not convinced to stick it out with Dropbox, one interesting alternative is Wuala.  Gadget Wisdom is testing this service out and he authored an excellent guide to Switching From Dropbox to WualaI plan to check this service out this week just in case.

Do you trust cloud storage services with your data?  If you use Dropbox do you plan to stick with them?