Free can be frugal or free can be cheap…which is expensive.
Free does not always mean that something doesn’t cost you anything…it can mean that it will cost you quite a lot, and issues that recently cropped op with Dropbox fall into that category.
First, what IS Dropbox?
(not the most authoritative source, I know, but a good down and dirty fast description) Dropbox is:
…is a file hosting service operated by Dropbox, Inc., that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of which computer is used to view it. Files placed in this folder also are accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.
In short, Dropbox is a chunk of storage space on Dropbox’s cloud – based servers where users can store files and share them with others for free (up to certain storage space limitations).
The Dropbox good points:
In theory that is certainly a good thing, and from many reports it works well in practice. In your dropbox account you can set up folder(s) like “Architecture Pictures”, “Food Pictures”, “Animal Pictures”, etc., and grant access to those folders to other people you would like to share the contents with.
From a blogger’s standpoint this makes Dropbox a great tool for sharing graphics and information back and forth between you and a Virtual Assistant that assists with things like graphic design for your blog, content for your blog, and any other blog related tasks where sharing files would make those tasks easier. While I don’t believe in farming out your content creation to other people, if you have VA’s creating your content anyway Dropbox would also be a good tool for sharing post content back and forth during the rough, edit, draft, edit, and publish cycle.
Most folks who use Dropbox find it to be an efficient tool for doing what it is supposed to do. Under normal circumstances I would probably rate it four or five stars. Unfortunately, I found one aspect of my Dropbox experience to be poor, and it was an aspect that I consider to be extremely important with Dropbox or any other application.
The Dropbox bad point(s):
To be blunt, Dropbox’s support sucks.
While I may be fairly proficient at some computer related tasks like web video production and WordPress, I’m pretty dumb when it comes to smartphones. I got my first smart phone, and android, about six months ago and the last time I had cell service before that was about four years prior, and that was a plain old cell phone flip phone that I didn’t even text with. It was a phone so I did what you normally do with a phone… I made phone calls. Being a smartphone newbie I’m not up to speed with how everything works with smartphones, but when I saw that Dropbox had an android app that would connect my smartphone with my Dropbox account I followed the appropriate steps to download and install the Dropbox App. The download and installation seemed to go well, right up until I tried to find the app so I could configure it. It was nowhere to be found, so I initiated a support ticket with dropbox to find out what I was doing wrong:
Bob Hayles, Feb 26 09:51 am (PST): When I signed up with Dropbox a while ago I also downloaded your Android App, but now I can’t find it among App icons or on desktop. My phone is a ZTE Merit. Bob
A simple straightforward question, with pertinent information, that should’ve had a simple straightforward answer. Instead, here is what I got back from Dropbox: Reply: Dropbox Support, Mar 02 12:08 am (PST):
Hi, Thank you for your support request. Recently, we have been receiving a high volume of support requests and haven’t been able to get back to you within a reasonable amount of time. The volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis prevents us from responding to all requests. Although requests from Pro and Teams users will be given priority assistance, we will do our best to get back to other inquiries when possible. If you are not a Pro or Teams user and you’re looking to resolve your issue before we can respond, you may want to check out: https://www.dropbox.com/help/ If you need to restore a large number of files and are unable to do so, please visit the following instructions to help us speed up the restoration for you: http://db.tt/2QPImJ3g If you are still experiencing problems, please reply to this message. We will try our best to get back to you, however we cannot guarantee a response. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience. Regards, The Dropbox Support Team
(emphasis in red is by the author) Call me old-fashioned (after all I am an old fart) but when you produce something, and put it out for the public to use, you support it. Period. Even if it’s free. Even if the support is needed because of Operator Error. You do it because it’s the ethical thing to do,but in the case of an organization, such as Dropbox, you do it to maintain your reputation as well. Providing poor support will soon have you with a list of clients whose only interest in you are freebies.
While the service that Dropbox provides has obvious benefits, and while the price (free) obviously can’t be beat, the lack of dependable support makes Dropbox an unacceptable option in HayleStorm Interactive’s opinion, especially for business applications. While it may be good for sharing pictures of the kids with grandma, and sharing pictures of your vacation with your best friend from high school, not being able to get support when needed makes it unuseful as a business/blogging tool in our opinion.