Dropbox to Limit Free Accounts to Three Devices; Here’s Why This Is a Problem

Dropbox has announced that users of free accounts will no longer be able to link more than three devices to their accounts. Those who had linked more devices prior to March 2019 will be able to continue to use them, but will not be able to link any additional devices.

There are lots of problems with this. Dropbox became quasi-ubiquitous because if its free accounts; anyone can sign up for a 2 GB account and use it to share files. This is especially practical because many people need to work with shared folders created by, say, employers or clients, who need to share files with them. Many Dropbox users don’t use the service very much; those who do, and who need a lot of storage, upgrade to the paid plan, of which there is only one: 1 TB for $10 a month. (There is also a 2 TB plan, and a Business plan, for companies with lots of users.)

The problem here is the old bait and switch; for years, Dropbox has promoted its free service, and now it’s imposing a limit. It’s true that, for many users, this three-device limit will not be a problem, but for others it will. I have five devices linked to my Dropbox account: my iMac (my main computer), my MacBook Pro (my secondary computer), my iPhone, iPad, and a Mac mini server. Actually, there are more; an Android phone I use for testing, and an iPad mini I use for reading occasionally. I don’t need the last two, but in my work I do use the others.

I’d be happy to pay for Dropbox, and have said so for years, but I don’t use it enough for it to be worthwhile. I currently have 25 GB storage on my free account; that’s the 2 GB I got initially, plus lots of bonuses for referrals, for driving customers to Dropbox. I use about half that.

Back around 2014-15, I took out a pro subscription with 1 TB, but there was no way I could make it worthwhile. I don’t need 1 TB, and even if I did, it wouldn’t fit on my Macs; I could put that much data on an external drive connected to my iMac, but now my MacBook Pro. (Yes, I know, selective sync; but I still don’t need that much storage.)

The problem is that Dropbox doesn’t have a low-priced, low-GB plan. I’d happily pay, say, $20 a year for 100 GB, because I am aware that I’ve been getting this service for free for many years. But I’m not spending $100 a year.

There are alternatives: on the Mac and iOS, there’s iCloud Drive, but you can’t share folders. There’s Google Drive, OneDrive, etc., and I have access to both of these through a GSuite (30 GB) and Office365 (1 TB) account. But there are apps that use Dropbox to store settings or data, and may not be able to use iCloud Drive or another service for that.

I know what Dropbox is doing; they’re saying that they don’t care about all these little customers who built the service. They just want to focus on business customers; because, aside from professionals, not many people need 1 TB cloud storage. It’s just a shame that they’re doing it this way.

Learn How to Make the Most of Dropbox with Take Control of Dropbox, by Joe Kissell

Tc dropboxBecause Dropbox is so simple to use for basic file syncing, it’s easy to forget that you can do far more with it than just sync files between two computers. If that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing out!

Author Joe Kissell explains why Dropbox is cool, shares best practices for using Dropbox on your own or with a group, helps you avoid common mistakes, clues you in to newer and advanced collaboration features, teaches you how to secure your Dropbox account, and describes unusual uses of Dropbox.

Readers can quickly benefit from the book: new users can start in the “Dropbox Quick Start,” which directs you to beginner basics or to special information for people who just want to access a shared Dropbox document.

But, for those who already know Dropbox basics, “Check Your Dropbox Skills” routes you immediately to help with exciting new features that you may not yet have mastered — or even been aware of(!) — such as Dropbox Team, Dropbox Paper collaboration, file requests, and Office integration/collaboration.

Joe focuses on using Dropbox from a Macintosh or Windows PC, or Linux, but part of why this book has crept up to 151 pages in its second edition is that he has included helpful details for integrating a mobile device (primarily iOS and Android) into your Dropbox workflow.

(And if you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can get a free 2 GB account.)

Get your copy of Take Control of Dropbox from Take Control Books.

Save Safari Web Pages to PDFs on iOS with Dropbox App

Dropbox pdfDropbox has just updated its iOS app, and the latest version includes a useful new addition:

“Save to Dropbox” App Extension now saves PDF versions of websites from Safari (iOS 8 & 9 only) — to enable, you can tap the share icon in Safari and toggle the extension from the “More” section

To set this up, open a web page in Safari. Tap the Share button, and then scroll along the bottom row until you see More…

Tap More… and scroll down until you see Save to Dropbox. Toggle this to turn it on.

When you see a web page you want to save as a PDF, tap the Share button, and then tap Save to Dropbox. You’ll be asked to enter your passcode or Touch ID, if you’ve turned that on in the Dropbox app, then you’ll be able to choose a name for the file, and a location in your Dropbox folder. Dropbox then generates the PDF and saves it.

As you can see to the right, the PDFs that Dropbox creates create page breaks, and may even cut images. But it’s a good way to get a full graphic of a web page, without having to switch to another app.

Invite Users to Send You Files via Dropbox, Even if They Don’t Have a Dropbox Account

I use Dropbox regularly to store some of my files, but also to share files with others. There’s a feature that I didn’t know about, whereby you can invite someone to send a file to your Dropbox folder, but they don’t need a Dropbox account. Jason Snell explains how to do this.

There are two scenarios. One is to have someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account send you a file. This feature allows you to invite someone to send you a file, and you don’t have to share a folder with them. The second is for people who do have Dropbox accounts, but don’t have enough storage for the shared folder. When you share a folder with someone, the total size of that folder counts against the other person’s limit.

This is a great feature in Dropbox, one that I’ll find very useful.

Note: If you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can get a 2 GB account for free, including an additional free 500 MB if you use this link.

How to View the Sizes of Files Stored on Dropbox

I use Dropbox to store files, share files with colleagues and friends, and back up some files. I have a 1 TB subscription to Dropbox, that I took out last summer, but that I’m planning to cancel. Since Dropbox can’t work with aliases, I really can’t use all that space.

(Every file you sync to Dropbox has to be in the Dropbox folder, which, by default, is in your home folder. I could move the folder to an external disk, which would allow me to store more stuff in it, but I’d rather these files remain in my home folder, so they get backed up regularly by Time Machine, and my other backups.)

Dropbox – both the app and the website – were telling me that I was using 26 GB, whereas my Mac only showed 10 GB. I use Dropbox’s Selective Sync feature to not sync everything to my Macs, notably backups of my websites, using the UpdraftPlus WordPress plugin.

The Dropbox website gives no information about the sizes of files or folders, making it very difficult to track down what’s taking up space. If you do sync everything to your computer, you can check, but if you use Selective Sync, you can’t.

Fortunately, the Dropbox app for iOS does show file size (but not folder size). I was able to find that there were a number of large backups, caused by an errant log file created by a WordPress plugin. I deleted those files, removing about 12 GB from my Dropbox folder. As you can see below, each of the files in the selected folder shows their size. To delete any files, tap the … menu at the top right of the window, choose Select, and select the files you want to delete. Tap Delete, and they’ll be removed from your Dropbox folder.

Dropbox size

It’s really a bit ridiculous that Dropbox can’t display file and folder sizes on the web. I understand that most people sync everything to their computers, but Selective Sync is very useful when you’re sharing folders and don’t need access to all their files. It allows you to save disk space, and save bandwidth, as you don’t have to keep downloading every file that someone else has updated.

By the way, if you don’t have a Dropbox account, you can get one for free. You get 2 GB for free, plus an extra 500 MB if you use my link (and I get 1 GB added to my account) which is enough for most people.

5 Tips to Help You Become a Dropbox Power User

If you’re one of the millions of people who uses Dropbox, you know how convenient it is to have lots of files in the cloud, accessible to your computers, phones, and tablets. One reason Dropbox is so popular is because it’s easy to use: on a computer, just put your files into a folder, and they sync automatically. On an iOS or Android device, a simple app lets you access and download or share files.

But if you only use the basic syncing feature, you’re missing out. In this article, I’m going to show you 5 tips that will help you get more out of Dropbox, and turn you into a Dropbox power user.

Read the rest of the article on the Mac Security Blog.