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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Explorer | Level 3

@mhowie wrote:

Just acquired a new iPad and without a reasonable price point for more than three devices, I'll stick to my basic account and won't be adding it and any future devices until such time Dropbox wises up and provides a price/storage option that makes sense for those of us who don't require 2TB of space.

Anyway, I recently added an external hard drive to an old Mac Mini and am now booting off it (it is my startup disk). I cloned the original HDD so I'm surprised Dropbox is suggesting it is a new device. What could I do to enable this device to be "re-added" to the grandfathered list of devices eligible with my basic account?

Thanks.


From what a Dropbox tech support agent explained to me, "It's not possible to 're-add' a device."

My response was that the only reasons I can only think of that would explain this involve either Dropbox policy or Dropbox software. Both policies and software can be modified. So I replied that I can't see how the agent's explanation can possibly be true and translated agent's words back: "Dropbox does not want to implement a way to 're-add' grandfathered devices."

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Explorer | Level 3

@Lazza wrote:
I love how there are some people here claiming to own half a dozen (or more) Apple devices for their personal use, costing several thousand dollars, yet consider 10$/month too much.

I mean, in absolute terms it is too much... But if you are so full of money to own 3 high-end desktop computer, 2 very expensive tablets and a smartphone which costs more than the salary of a factory worker you might as well spend those 10 bucks.

Lazza,

On top of what others have said, you are making some rather extreme assumptions. Let me count the ways.

1) Perhaps the most important is you are citing the recurring monthly charge for DB's Plus plan for individuals and comparing it with the one-time cost of hardware.

One of my iMacs was purchased in 2007 for my son when he started college, and I inherited it after he graduated and moved on to something more suited for his work. I don't remember what we paid for it, but it was under $2,000.  If it was this much, then over 12 years this works out to less than $14 per month, which doesn't seem so extravagant compared to DB's $10.

But if you really believe DB will keep the price at $10 for the next 12 years, I have a bridge you might be interested in buying. A key part of these kinds of licensing schemes that they both give the seller control over prices and try to lock the buyer into a condition in which they're dependent on the seller's product. Together, these two features increase the seller's ability to dictate prices.

2) As for my other iMacs, one is c. 2008, belongs to my employer, and is located in my office. My employer has a policy that when an employee is the sole user of equipment that has outlived its usable life, the employee may keep it providing its value is less than a certain amount ($500, IIRC). I obtained the third, 2010, iMac this way.

Everything else I purchased with my own funds. My laptop is a 2015 MacBook Air purchased for about $950. The iPad was purchased several years ago for around $400. And my phone is a Samsung S7, also several years old and overpriced when I bought it; if I were to replace it today, I'd purchase a Pixel 3a for around $350.

These examples make clear that you are tacitly comparing current retail prices for the latest equipment when in fact you should be looking at current book value of old, depreciated equipment or replacement cost of new equipment.

FWIW, before I took the 2010 iMac in for repair, I started looking into Hackintosh alternatives in case I had to scrap the iMac. My interest in Hackintosh was motivated by (a) lower initial cost, (b) more flexible upgrading, and (c) easier repairs. E.g., if a drive goes bad on an iMac, the repair bill often makes purchasing a new computer the smarter choice. (Apple's strategy is similar to DB's in that it seeks to entice users into its ecosystem and then charge them premium prices for protecting their investments.) But if a drive goes bad on a DIY system, replacing it costs about $100 for a new drive and takes under half an hour.

3) You don't take into account other subscription services someone might pay for: Evernote, Lastpass, Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office 365, Mathematica, etc. It's easy to run up annual spending of $1,000's. Adding $120/yr for a DB subscription to this total should be considered in the context of the entire bill, not the bill for one item in isolation. 

4) You don't take into account the asymmetric power relationship between the vendor and the buyer. Once someone commits to particular software, they have to invest time learning how to use it and then port their data and workflow to it. To drop the software and switch to another product involves similar transaction costs. With freemium ware, like DB, the seller makes a conscious decision to offer a free version, hoping to entice a certain % of users to upgrade to a paid version. Users who commit to such policies are usually open to upgrading, should they see the need for and value of doing so. But it is always wise to be wary of sellers whose fremium offerings are really "bait and switch" strategies. In other words, there has to be a certain level of trust between user and seller.

In this case, DB betrayed that trust. It offered a free version subject to certain conditions (primarily storage limits) but then unilatterally switched to limits on the number of authorized "devices," which we are now learning is not even true. AFAICT, DB's new policy limits Basic accounts to at most 3 authorized devices, with pre-March 2019 users grand-parented in until such time as the OS software on one of their registered devices is reinstalled, cloned, upgraded, etc.

Notice how this pulls the rug out from under the typical users who initially invested in using DB's free accounts. Such users probably did not need copious amounts of storage space, but they did need access from all their devices. A good example is someone like myself who uses DB for the to-do-list ecosystem, todo.txt. The basic data file is just a small text file, but it has to be accessible from all devices one might use. The original DB policy was ideal for such use, and several apps designed to handle todo.txt data assume the file is stored on DB. Without modifying their code, one can't even use alternative storage solutions. The 3-device policy adds nothing of value to such Basic usage, but it destroys DB Basic's usefulness for such purposes.

5) You are using "Apple" the same way some people use "Rolls Royce." True, Apple products usually have excellent quality but come at premium prices. But you misunderstand reasons why people might choose to pay the premium.

I used PC's for many years but then switched to Macs because my position changed from a PC-orieinted group to one that uses Macs. Initial purchase prices of PC's were lower, but the headaches were far greater. If my time is worth anything, I see the TCO of a Mac as much less than that of a PC.

But it's not just being willing to pay for better quality. What would you say, for example, to school teachers who use Macs at home because their schools use Macs and iPads for the kids? Or to the filmmaker who needs specialized, Mac-only editing software? Or to the software developer who needs a single system providing access to both a *NIX variant and mass-market, commercial software?

6) Of course, all of this is a "first world" problem (although I have helped people in places like Nepal deal with similar problems). But this is an Internet forum about a cloud storage product. What else would you expect?

It seems to me you want to slice away a chunk from the entire first-world-problem whole and then isolate a piece, and cluck your tongue at people because the piece you isolated is one associated with persons in certain locations having certain levels of wealth. Of course it is: this entire forum is about a first-world subject, but you just choose to focus on the one Apple tree in the forest.

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Collaborator | Level 9

Yes, as I mentioned before my previous message came out as quite a bit over the top, it was not expressed too clearly and did not convey the intended tone.

Apologies.

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Helpful | Level 5

As noted previously in this thread, you can add 3 more devices by simply creating a new DB account. Assuming you have another email account (if not, create a new gmail one). Send an invite to your other address from your main DB account. Accept the invite (both get bonus storage). Now in your main account, just SHARE the whole thing with your new account. Change your DB preferences on your other devices to use the new address. Accept the Share and boom, you now have (up to) 6 devices again, all using the same DB files. Want another 3, just repeat with another email address. Repeat as necessary. 

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Collaborator | Level 9

Yes. Actually, if you have a Gmail account you can use the plus alias trick so you don't need to create other email accounts. But in that case you won't get the extra bonus space.

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Helpful | Level 6

I had an idea for working around the three device limit, but I have not tried it and I don't know if it would work.  Since it is possible to put the Dropbox folder into any location on the computer, would it work to put the DB folder into a sub-folder of either a Google Drive folder or a OneDrive folder?  On the three "allowed" devices, one would use DB as usual.  On the "additional" devices, one would access the DB folder via their Google Drive app or their OneDrive app.  This might cause horrible syncing issues for either DB or the other share drive, but maybe not.

Any thoughts?

I should add that when I first came across the three device limit and contacted DB (either through support or in this forum), the tech support person suggested simply using the web interface for devices past the three limit.

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Collaborator | Level 9

In my opinion you would risk damaging the metadata and/or having sync issues if you are going to add files to Dropbox using this route. However it might be find if you use it read-only.

The web interface is surely a good way to use Dropbox on additional devices if you need to access it every now and then.

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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Helpful | Level 7
Considering most people here don't have high storage needs and want to sync more than thee devices, it's just easier to leave Dropbox. Quite a few have similar sized basic plans with no limit and the sync apps for Android and Apple are really good. So just split and call it a day. I remember signing up to quite a few cloud services when they were fledglings (as many should have). Easy to jump ship, move or rename your main folder on your PC, install the appropriate sync app and pick your folders. Bye bye DB. Don't let the door hit you in the a$$ on your way out.
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Re: Reinstalling Dropbox. Now I'm limited to 3 devices.

Helpful | Level 6

Depending on the details of your needs, it might not be as easy. For instance, very view sync services are truely cross platform; Linux especially is supported by few (though also used by few users...)

Also, many details of the Dropbox client are superior: Prioritization of small uploads (such that that one larger file doesn't stall the synchronization of your work documents), how sync conflcits are handled (e.g. Spideroak just silently discards the version that has been changed earlier), avoidance of redundant uploads due to differential synchronization, local sync for devices in the same network, ...

It is easy to start relying on such features, even if the storage needs aren't large. Hence an entry-level tier that unlocks more than three devices without awkward workarounds would be appreciated over "just change providers".

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3 device limitation

New member | Level 2

Hi,

Are there signs that the free version limitation to 3 devices will be removed?

Just wanted to ask before moving everything to O365.

Thanks
Roger

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