Dropbox has been in the news quit a bit lately, first a minor rewording of their policies to clarify that they could access files when needed generated some buzz. Then they screwed up an upgraded and completely removed password protection for about 4 hours. Then they again reworded their policies and had to tweak them after a backlash.
Now I never considered anything in Dropbox as private or secure. And their privacy policies simply re-iterate what I already assumed to be true. (Although their latest change seemed to be a little far-reaching in order to protect them and relied on a “buy we’d never do it” attitude and that’s what they backed off on.) Anything I put “in the cloud” I assume will be public unless I encrypt it locally before I send it up and only I have the key.
Any company can have a bad run (re: Sony) but it is possible to avoid these types of things. Dropbox seems to have entered the mode of “do first, ask forgiveness later” which also seems to be the strategy of Facebook and others. It just seems to me that it’s time for this attitude to have consequences. In addition to unanticipated access to the files to get information, I wonder how log it will be before someone uses Dropbox (or a similar service) to distribute malware?
I’d been a paid Dropbox subscriber but switched back to the free account even before these events. It’s not like Dropbox will suffer any by losing my account.
So what replaces Dropbox:
I started off by uninstalling it from my mobile devices just to make sure there wasn’t a forgotten use for it. Then I stopped Dropbox on all my PCs. I moved my files to locations that made sense, since they no longer needed to be in the Dropbox folder structure.
Once the files were were I wanted I set up synching with Microsoft Live Mesh. I’d already been using Live Mesh across all my computers and it was working well. All my synching is computer to computer and Mesh handles that well. There is the Skydrive option if needed. I like Live Mesh because it can avoid the internet altogether and doesn’t require a pre-defined folder structure.
The lost features include mobiles device support and deleted file history, neither of which I use. Plus, Dropbox just worked and other developers were tying into it. That made it so easy to use (and potentially easy to but info out there that should be encrypted). I looked at SugarSync awhile back but had problems with it. But it looks like Windows Live Mesh will work, as long as I don’t come up with a need for mobile device sync.