Whenever there’s a post extolling the virtues of Dropbox, some commenter chimes in to ask why people like it so much when (insert service here) is so much better. As someone who over-researches to an extreme, I’ve used just about every online storage service I can get my hands on, and Dropbox continues to be my primary cloud storage service. Here’s why.
One of the core reasons I use Dropbox is because they have shown they’re worthy of my trust. With each change, they’ve taken care of their existing users. I had 5GB as a beta user and kept it when they changed new signups to only get 2GB. Referrals were originally awarded 250MB but when it was bumped up to 500MB, they made it retroactive. They’ve shown they value their existing users by treating them well. Sadly, it sets them apart. Microsoft took several features away from FolderShare and continues to make changes for their sake that don’t benefit their users. Several other cloud storage providers have made similar changes that make sense from their perspective but leaves their existing users in the lurch. When trust is lost, users have no reason to stick around.
There’s a certain amount of overhead in switching cloud providers. It’s not much, but it’s enough of a nuisance that I’d rather avoid it if possible. I’m even willing to pay more for a service that takes care of their users if it comes down to it. There are a few core features that might pull me away from Dropbox, but at this point it’s in their court. It’s not hard to figure out how users want to be treated, but few companies choose to run their business that way. I hope Dropbox continues to be rewarded for it.
One of the biggest challenges of designing software is making it both powerful and easy to use. Dropbox has fought hard to keep their service simple, even making a small set of power users angry by cutting a less-used feature when it was too confusing for the typical user. This adherence to a simple design philosophy (which is anything but simple to execute) makes it easier to recommend to others, and even power users can appreciate a simple, intuitive user interface. Ease of use is worth the effort.
Dropbox has the core features I need, and with 30GB, I’m not hurting for space. Even if other services have features like syncing any folder, they would also have to match the rest of the package in order to get me to switch. Unless that feature is truly compelling, it’s not worth the hassle to switch.
There’s no telling what the future holds. New cloud offerings are sprouting up like wildflowers right now and it’s going to take some time to see who’s in it for the long haul. Many services will close up shop in a few years, but there’s nothing but good things in store as the competition heats up, forcing everyone to improve their services to attract or retain their users. As long as they continue to breed trust, focus on simplicity and keep the functionality on par with the competition, Dropbox will continue to earn loyal users, myself included.