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Opting out of cloud storage?

Opting out of cloud storage?

sfsdfd
Helpful | Level 6
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I've been a Dropbox user for about 10 years. Today, I was greeted with a demand from my Dropbox client to move all of my Dropbox synced folders from ~/Dropbox to ~/Library/CloudStorage.

 

I've done a bit of research and I understand the reason for the change. However, I'm deeply troubled by the implication that on-demand cloud storage is the "new normal" for these files, and that offline storage seems to be a less preferable option.

 

I'm going to make this clear: I expect all of my synced files to be stored on all of my devices at all times. I have many workflows that depend on local file storage and will either be unacceptably postponed by on-demand access or will simply break. Also, I refuse to accept the possibility of essential files being unavailable because my device is offline or has low bandwidth.

 

I understand that with the new Dropbox, "individual files and folders" can be marked as "make available offline," and will therefore be stored locally. However, I can't seem to find any indication of how well that marking process works. If one of the base folders on Dropbox is included in Selective Sync on my Mac, and if I mark that folder as "make available offline," will that designation be enforced for all files and folders? Or will this setting have to be managed constantly - e.g., I might find that newly created files were marked as "on-demand" by default and need to be updated?

 

To be clear, this is 1,000% a breaking change for me, and if I cannot make Dropbox satisfy my needs, I will be terminating my service and moving all of my files elsewhere. It is a shame that Dropbox has taken this one-size-fits-all approach and has broken core functionality in furtherance of a feature that I have no intention of ever using.

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

sfsdfd
Helpful | Level 6

Sure. The option looks like this:

 

Screenshot 2023-11-15 at 3.59.16 AM.png

 

Selecting "Make Files Local" apparently forces Dropbox to use its classic behavior: all folders selected in Selective Sync are stored locally, as well as in the cloud. Select "Make Files Online-Only" prompts the new (toxic) behavior where Dropbox decides which files to store locally and which to store only on Dropbox, where the user has the option of specifying the behavior on a per-file basis.

Apparently, the "Make Files Online-Only" behavior is part of a configuration called "Dropbox for macOS on File Provider," which is available only for accounts with Dropbox Plus.


A few additional notes:

 

1) The above dialog is only shown during the initial setup process while "linking" your local Dropbox client to your Dropbox account. You can't get to this dialog through Dropbox Preferences or any other way.

 

2) Even if you select "Make Files Local," Dropbox still tries to persuade you to switch to "Dropbox for macOS on File Provider" with the "Make Files Online-Only" option. See the bottom option in the Sync section of Preferences:

sfsdfd_0-1700040091854.png

 

And if you select "Get Started," you get this:

 

Screenshot 2023-11-15 at 4.05.52 AM.png

If you proceed with this option, you're converted to "Dropbox for macOS on File Provider" with the "Make Files Online-Only" behavior. I don't know if that option has a corresponding "Sync" option that allows you to switch back to "Make Files Local," but I expect not - this feels like a classic service "upsell" feature, and one that Dropbox probably doesn't want to make it easy to revert.

 

3) If you really want to see the above dialog again, the way to do it is to force Dropbox to re-"link" the client to your Dropbox account. The way to do that is to close Dropbox and delete your Dropbox folder. When you restart Dropbox, you instead see this dialog:

 

sfsdfd_1-1700040107518.png

 

Clicking "Relink" causes the Dropbox client to request your credentials and login again, and then shows the top dialog with the "Make Files Local" and "Make Files Online-Only" options.

 

If all of this sounds janky, well... yes... yes it is. None of this information is documented anywhere that I can find, and it leaves a bunch of unanswered questions, such as those I mentioned in earlier posts.

It looks to me like the Dropbox team wants to strong-arm its user base into the "Online-Only" option, which (1) requires Dropbox Plus (i.e., upselling) and (2) makes it more difficult for users to part ways with Dropbox, since at least some of their files don't live on their own devices (i.e., lock-in). This kind of behavior absolutely does not promote trust - the kind of trust that I'd need to share all of my data with Dropbox and count on it being kept safe, secure, and (most of all) available where I need it, when I need it. It's really unfortunate that Dropbox is making these choices at the expense of its user base.

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22 Replies 22

Rich
Super User II
Go to solution

@sfsdfd wrote:

However, I can't seem to find any indication of how well that marking process works.


 


It is a shame that Dropbox has taken this one-size-fits-all approach and has broken core functionality in furtherance of a feature that I have no intention of ever using.

It's actually Apple that has pushed this, with their File Provider API.

tina458
New member | Level 2
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Same problem with Windows so do NOT let Dropbox tell you it is an Apple problem !!!  I have been with Dropbox for 10+ years also and now my files & folders have been duplicated (each file 2x) on the web and an additional 4x on my computer and technical support has just been emailing me things to do that they don't understand themselves and i already know.   You learn alot when you use a program for 10+ years, huh ?????  I doubt the higher level technician even has the knowledge i do because their fix will just make the problem worse or cost me a ton of time fixing as my files change on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis.  I also want all my data available on my hard drive for my immediant access and protection, but i dont want each file in 6 different places and when we change a file, which file in what place did we actually change today, was it the same actual file as yesterday ?  Last week ?  I also am in a licensed profession and i can NOT just have my files online, they MUST RESIDE ON MY HARD DRIVE, just in case of an attack i need to be able to "pull the plug".   I am with you.....they either fix this or its a deal breaker for me as well.  I'm on your side !  

sfsdfd
Helpful | Level 6
Go to solution

@Rich, your response is both dismissive and unhelpful.

 

I will repeat my questions above and bold it for your attention:

 

If one of the base folders on Dropbox is included in Selective Sync on my Mac, and if I mark that folder as "make available offline," will that designation be enforced for all files and folders? Or will this setting have to be managed constantly - e.g., I might find that newly created files were marked as "on-demand" by default and need to be updated?

 

Neither of the links you provided addressed those questions in the slightest.

 

As for this comment:

 

> It's actually Apple that has pushed this, with their File Provider API.

 

...I will refer you to the Apple FileProvider API documentation, which reads:

 

"You don’t need a File Provider extension to allow access to documents that your app stores locally."

 

Dropbox isn't required to use the FileProvider API. And even if it felt compelled to do so, Dropbox could have used the FileProvider API for on-demand files, and could have continued using conventional sync methods for "keep on device" files. One such option: allow users to designate each top-level folder (those that are subject to Selective Sync) as either on-demand or keep-on-device. The former could have been stored in ~/Library/CloudStorage and could have used the FileProvider API; the latter could have been stored in ~/Dropbox and could have used the existing Dropbox sync features.

 

Dropbox chose not to do that, and instead shove everyone into ~/Library/CloudStorage and the FileProvider API, whether or not users wanted to designate certain folders as keep-on-device. It chose to serve certain kinds of users over other users, and to serve the latter a second-class, poorly-documented, unreliable hack as a consolation prize.

 

Pejorative responses like yours fully track with that decision-making process.

 

Since Dropbox is no longer interested in serving users like me, I'm taking my subscription money to one of its competitors. The tone of your response validates that decision.

broomhilda
Explorer | Level 3
Go to solution

@sfsdfd which alternative service did you decide to switch to?

 

These Dropbox changes are horrific and nothing is working as expected for me. It's impossible to know whether files are local or on the cloud, since many are displaying BOTH a green checkmark AND a cloud icon. The contextual commands to make a folder "Online Only" or "Available Offline" don't reliably do anything. It's simply unacceptable.

 

I've been a loyal customer for 10 year but it's clearly time to part ways.

techstil
Helpful | Level 5
Go to solution

I second the very well-outlined opinion of this thread's author. 

 

One additional datapoint is that in my case i'm using an alternative file-browser (not Mac's finder). This file-browser (Path Finder) does not have an indication of the file's status (cloud or local), so i usually rely on a "common" setting that ensures all my files are stored locally (then i enable or disable sync for each individual folder in the advanced tab). This has always worked, but not after upgrading my mac OS all the sudden my files start living in the cloud, and are no longer available locally.  This move made me loose my face a number of times while traveling in Japan on low bandwidth, and I don't find a way to restore my files to reside locally. My Mac locks while trying to load data that i thought was local, but is now all the sudden offlined for some random reason. Please explain to me how i can keep my files locally, and give me back my control or i will cancel my subscription. 

 

 

Darrin Harris F
New member | Level 2

I want this answer as well - all files sync'd on all devices as my default... I reviewed the thread seems no one has the answer

Megan
Dropbox Staff

Hi @Darrin Harris F, I hope you're doing well!

 

If I understand your questions correctly, it seems you'd like to know if you can sync as available offline, all of your files. 

 

During installation, you should be asked how you wish to sync your content: available offline, or online only.  

 

However, even if the files don't start as available offline by default, you should be able to change that setting, in order to sync them locally to the device, and keep them like so. 

 

If you have any questions, let me know!


Megan
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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sfsdfd
Helpful | Level 6

This answer is completely useless and unresponsive to our comments.

 

You're suggesting that we have the option of designating files as offline "even if they don't start as available offline by default." This option requires us to police all of our files to designate them as "available offline."

 

Every time we create a file or folder, we have to go to Dropbox to ensure that the file or folder is marked "available offline."

 

Every time an application automatically creates a file or folder, we have to go to Dropbox to ensure that the file or folder is marked "available offline."

 

Every time we copy or move a file or folder from one place to another, we have to go to Dropbox to ensure that the new or moved file or folder is marked "available offline."

 

In other words, we have to be hypervigilant about marking our data as "available offline." The consequence of failing to do so is that our data doesn't live on our devices - only a mirage of the data. If the device is offline, our data isn't available. If an error occurs with Dropbox, our data isn't available. If we terminate our Dropbox service, our data - the data that we thought was living on our devices - is probably lost forever. Etc.

 

This is absolutely unacceptable and an appalling mismanagement of user data. I have abandoned Dropbox as a result, and your response only reinforces the correctness of that decision.

 

techstil
Helpful | Level 5

Yea, same here. I also stopped using Dropbox for this reason.

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