PROS / It can integrate with over 100,000 third-party apps.
CONS / Dropbox lacks sufficient support features.
VERDICT / Dropbox Pro provides decent value with good performance, but the versatility with third-party apps is unparalleled.
With over 500 million worldwide users, Dropbox is perhaps the most well-known online storage service in our review. The brand is synonymous with cloud storage, in part because of its incredible versatility with third-party apps. Dropbox Pro, the 1TB subscription plan, offers good value with excellent performance. For these reasons, Dropbox Pro earns the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for best online storage service.
For our cloud storage review, we evaluated the service's relative value across three levels – a large family with at least five computers, a small family with at least three computers and an individual with one computer. We also tested the service's upload and download speed to gauge performance. Finally, we closely evaluated the service's ease of use. The best cloud storage services should provide excellent value and great performance in an app that's easy to use.
Price & Value
With Dropbox Pro, you have the option to pay $9.99 a month or $99 a year. Obviously, the yearly payment provides the best value, as it's like getting more than two months free. For a large family with at least five computers, this service received a B+ because the cost per computer is less than $20 per year. The value for a small family received a B- because the value is under $30. The value for an individual received a B because it costs less than $100 per year for one computer. For each level of our evaluation, Dropbox Pro was clearly above average. Since you can install the app on as many devices as you need, the value increases with each device.
Dropbox Pro received a C+ for upload speed, which was just barely above average. After running many tests, the average upload speed suggests that it could complete a 1TB upload in about 16 days. For comparison, the service with fastest upload speed in our tests could complete the same upload in less than five days. Conversely, many of the services we tested produced much slower speeds.
The download speed was far more impressive, receiving an A-. Dropbox Pro's average download speed suggests you could download 1TB in less than seven days. Only one other service recorded a faster download speed. This jump in performance makes sense, as a large part of Dropbox's priorities rely on quick access to files.
For ease of use, Dropbox received a B+. Like many cloud-storage services, it doesn't rely on a traditional desktop app. Instead, you install a folder. Anything you put into the folder automatically uploads to your account. And any computer that you install that folder on will mirror the files. This allows you to edit a document on one computer and move to a different computer to continue editing it without using a USB drive. The downside to having the desktop app contained in a sync folder is that, for a novice user, it's not clearly evident what you're supposed to do with the folder. In addition, you can only download files from your online account, though this is a minor inconvenience.
One of the best features of Dropbox Pro is the versatility. The cloud storage app can integrate with over 100,000 third-party apps. This makes it much more than just a virtual hard drive. For example, you can integrate your Dropbox account with music players so that you can stream your music from your phone without subscribing to a music-streaming app.
Dropbox security protocols are relatively standard. Your files are encrypted on the servers with 256-bit AES encryption, and the data is protected with 128-bit encryption during the upload and download process. Dropbox recently added a two-step verification option, which adds another layer of security. The two-step verification, also referred to as two-factor verification, is an important security protocol that protects against access to your account from someone who has gained your password, which is the most common way hackers gain access to your data.
Dropbox doesn't give you the option to own your encryption key. A private encryption key ensures that only you can decrypt your files. However, since so much of Dropbox's service relies on integration with third-party apps, a private encryption key isn't practical. You can use a third-party app to encrypt the files independently if you want the added protection.
Help & Support
If customer support is an important consideration, prepare to be disappointed. Dropbox lacks some key support features, like phone and live-chat support. It's not uncommon for services of this size to lack phone and chat support. The service does have a phone number and a live chat feature, but these only connect you to a sales representative, which isn't really helpful when you're experiencing a technical issue. Instead, the service relies on an extensive help center, user forums, FAQs and email support ticket system.
Dropbox Pro is one of the best cloud-storage services, because it provides a good balance of value and performance. The app has a few minor learning curves, but it's otherwise a very easy service to use. The third-party app integration is unparalleled with over 100,000 third-party apps that you can sync with your Dropbox account. The most significant downside is the lack of support contacts.