Sunday, 3 March 2013

Dropbox vs Apple iCloud: Alternative and Competitors of Dropbox

Dropbox vs Apple iCloud: Alternative and Competitors of Dropbox

Apple iCloud can be treated as alternative to Dropbox as iCloud is claiming to be a strong competitor of Dropbox in Cloud Market (Online File Sharing and Storage Market). iCloud is giving more online free storage space to the users (5GB as compared to 2GB given by dropbox) and competing in lot of other features with dropbox like online syncing of files and folders, online apps and access, offline usage etc. Let have a comparison (Dropbox vs Apple iCloud) between iCloud and Dropbox (Online File Sharing and Storage Cloud Tools).

Dropbox Online File Storage

Dropbox's primary advantages right now is its 100 millon-strong user base as well as a head start when it comes to working across multiple platforms. The company is hoping that the new tools will press those advantages and help it in its quest to move beyond the increasingly commodified market of cloud storage and into a new space of providing content services instead of basic file sync, backup, and storage.

Free space: 2GB
Premium space: $99/year for 100GB
File size limit: Unlimited
Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, BlackBerry
Best for: Seamless syncing

Apple iCloud Online File Storage

Free space: 5GB: Apple had announced that they will provide 20GB free space but later on they snatched 15GB from their users and now only providing 5GB and you have to upgrade your account to enjoy more space. You will have to pay annual fee for extra storage. The yearly fee also has free, unlimited backups for apps, books, purchased music (not available in all countries), TV shows (US-only), and movies. Actual storage space is used for photos, videos, settings (wallpaper, mail, contacts, etc), app data and organization, messages, and ringtones.

Premium space: $100/year for 50GB
File size limit: 25MB free/250MB paid
Platforms: Mac, iOS, Windows
Best for: Heavy iTunes/Mac users

Online Syncing of Files and Folders

Dropbox providea desktop clients for Windows and Mac and offers an official Linux tool. Each app designates a hard-drive folder, and anything saved here is automatically synced to the cloud and your other devices.

To comply with the Dropbox API, Writer directly reads from and saves to the Dropbox servers. While the document will save frequently, there is also a Sync icon for manually saving to Dropbox. Documents are not stored locally, and at present you can’t view or edit them (except for the currently open document) if your device is offline. Because of this if you are occasionally offline we recommend you use iCloud for syncing instead.

Apple iCloud is tightly integrated into the Mac OS and a growing number of iOS apps, and its focus is more towards being an invisible syncing and backup solution, rather than a catch-all digital locker.

iCloud syncs documents across all your devices, and any documents you’ve created or viewed on your device will be available for offline use. Any documents you create or edits you make while offline will be synced the next time you use Writer while online.

Online apps and access

Dropbox has perfected the art of sharing files and folders on the web - it's as easy as passing along a URL, whether or not the recipient also uses Dropbox.

Dropbox doesn't offer browser-based apps, it does have a flexible web interface listing your folders and files. Many file types - covering PDFs, documents, video, photos and music - can be viewed in the browser, even if there are no editing features.

iCloud includes basic notes, contacts and calendar tools, but no web-based office suite, and no online file explorer to take a look at your content. iCloud doesn't offer web access, easy file sharing or collaboration - its focus is more on single users.

Mobile & Offline Use

iCloud and Dropbox work differently when offline:

Using iCloud Offline

If your device can not connect to iCloud, all changes are stored locally and synced the next time you have a connection. If you edited the same iCloud document on two different devices, iCloud will determine which one is newer, or will ask you to choose. Only documents you’ve created or opened on that device are cached for offline use.

Using Dropbox Offline

If you want to edit a document from Dropbox offline, please copy or move it to “Documents” in the Storage List while you still have access to the internet.

If your connection drops while editing or saving a document on Dropbox, the document will be copied to the device’s local storage if necessary to avoid data loss. You can then move it back to Dropbox later.

Conclusion: Dropbox vs iCloud

The new Dropbox APIs are more of a direct attack on iCloud than its previous tools, which weren't as easy to implement as Apple's solution. iCloud is built into iOS 6 and is relatively easy for developers, but offers very limited and often confusing file access to end users — especially on non-iOS platforms.

Dropbox is ultimately aiming for a usable balance between traditional file system access on desktops, simplified and abstracted content on mobile, and above all cross-platform file syncing. It's much closer to hitting that target than its competitors may realize, but it's not likely that they will quietly cede the market to Dropbox. 100 million users may seem impressive, but Dropbox will need a lot more to stave off the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

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