Cloud storage has always been essential to my workflow, ever since I knew the meaning of the word backup. With plenty of failed hard drives in my lifetime, reliability and trust on the cloud has been a key part of my backup strategy (along with a home-bound server doing double duty as a backup queen).
Dropbox has been my choice of file sharing for quite some time now and worth every penny to me. Despite its kerfuffle in becoming M1 compatible and highly bloated product offering trying to shove every newly monetized feature at me, its core product is miles ahead from everything other there. Google Drive, pCloud, OneDrive, Sync.com, iDrive, you name it, I’ve tried it. Each tool faced its quirks and challenges. And most of these providers have not solved the issue of slowness. OneDrive is particularly notorious for its molasses-like product (doesn’t Microsoft use Azure? Not a good look.).
Another issue I often run into is storage limitations. Dropbox is pricey, but at least it’s unlimited storage when paying for the team price (unfortunately not unlimited bandwidth when sharing files, though. They have a cap of 750 GB data, in which they will freeze all your links from functioning for weeks). It really is the only cloud storage that allows me to store over 10 TB of data without compromise or having to pay an arm and a leg.
I might have considered using an S3-compatible service like Wasabi to accommodate my storage needs had versioning, file sharing, searching and selective sync not also serve essential parts of my workflow.
Dropbox, more often than not, has been consistent in handling files, syncing quickly and without stress. It handles versioning well too. Its link sharing feature is quick and easy to use. Selective Sync is robust and keeps files offline when I want them, online when I don’t. It opens files in a jiffy and still works great with Raycast search. It also handles offline and online state transitions very smoothly, and its cross-platform compatibility is straightforward.
I’ve had OneDrive files ghost on me (Really! Just straight up disappear), Google Drive syncing glitches, and dealing with pCloud’s failed integration on macOS (they use a fuse driver to mount the cloud, preventing it from being searched).
Thanks to Apple, it looks like much of the stuff I feared from the File Provider API are also going to become Dropbox’s problem. Here’s the TL;DR:
- Location of Dropbox folder has changed to ~/Library/CloudStorage
- Storing Dropbox folder on an external drive is no longer supported
- Dropbox folder in Finder can now be found under Locations instead of Favorites
- Introduction of a new file format called “flattened package”
- Searching through Finder won’t find all content in the Dropbox folder
- Actions with many files may take longer to complete
- LAN Sync is not supported
- Photos Library is not supported
- Some downloaded files won’t display as occupying disk space
- Some newly added files will default to online-only.
Every limitation that is introduced in that list is primarily because of Apple’s poor API limitations. Every cloud provider is now hampered in their implementation. And moreover, Apple’s own iCloud Drive is unreliable, flaky, inconsistent, and not strong in its cross-platform implementation.
It’s unfortunate to see a piece of software I’ve known and loved for more than a decade now regress in behavior on my favorite OS because of Apple’s failed attempt at offering a better, more secure replacement.
I ask sincerely: Why didn’t Apple implementation a Developer ID process for kernel extensions and allowed exclusive access to specific vendors? Why not collaborate with other companies to help build the File Provider API with a flexible approach? Why not try to understand the needs of pro users like myself and how our workflows will get radically impacted from API changes like this?
Honestly, I am grateful for Apple taking more steps to harden the attack surface of the OS. I just wish there was a bit more care and consideration when deploying it. Or at least a better substitution. All around, this genuinely sucks for us pro users.