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File Compression

File Compression

Walt805
Helpful | Level 6
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Hello Dropbox,

 

It's time for transparency on the topic of file compression. It is ridiculous that this question has been asked by so many users, dating back a decade, and still, I am unable to locate an official response or published document containing this sensible information.

  • Does Dropbox compress files that user's upload? I'd like to hear it from a Dropbox representative, and:
    • If yes;
      • which file types are compressed? I want (require) a list of file extensions, please. Not a vague response lacking credibility besides "I work at Dropbox" or "any lossy audio file".
        • What method of compression is used; can you at least tell me if its lossless? (again, documentation please.)
      • Can the compression be circumvented with a workaround? Is there some container file type like .rar archives that Dropbox will leave alone?
        • For example, what if I upload .iso or .vhd images?
          • Would that be as easy as just changing the file extension or would I actually need to build an image because Dropbox uses heuristics to examine the raw data of the file in determining what to compress?
            • What if I created a lossless archive that is password protected?
            • What if I used my own file encryption software before uploading?
    • If no, please provide a link to Dropbox official documentation stating this. I'm sorry that I don't trust you (hey, I'm honest). It's shady that Dropbox hasn't made this information easily accessible to their paid subscribers. I understand why it would be in Dropbox's best interest to compress user's files and in the end it would come down to profit and slight consideration for the user experience transferring files. I see it as, I pay (and have for ~years~) for a specific amount of storage space, therefore I should be able to choose how much of that quota my data occupies.

Thank you, while irritated I do respectfully appreciate your time.

 

Walt

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

Walt805
Helpful | Level 6
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Forget it. We're moving on.

View solution in original post

6 Replies 6

Hannah
Dropbox Staff
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Hey @Walt805, thanks for taking the time to post today.

 

While this is not written in one of our help center articles, it has been officially stated by other Dropboxers around the Community (see here and here), that Dropbox does not compress your files upon upload.

 

Are you seeing any issues with a specific feature?

 

Perhaps when previewing a file or sending a shared link, etc.?

 

Any additional info you can give me, would be really helpful.

 

Thanks!


Hannah
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Walt805
Helpful | Level 6
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Hannah, thanks for thanking the time to respond.

Is there credible Dropbox branded documentation to support the information published by the "dropboxers" you've linked?

Who is a dropboxer? Is that the term that Dropbox uses for their associates, or a user who chose to do the math on their own and provide their personal results— because I shouldn't have to rely on information provided by strangers. My relationship is with Dropbox— I should have irrefutable documentation available to me.

Thank you for probing for the root cause to prompt my frustration leading to this request for information. The service operates as expected for me personally, but I do need to know what happens to my (and other's) valuable data for future use.

Beyond my personal curiosity, I meet and advise ~300 new college students per semester. I am also a member of an Academic Advisory Board for a specific department. I am a trusted source for reliable information and hold myself accountable to know the original source of the information that I provide to others. It's routinely discussed whether to simplify the student workflow by using the product that is already configured and accessible through Instructure's Canvas LMS— chosen at a district level. I'm failing to find a reason not to agree and have them stick to the more convenient workflow—please provide me with an official statement that is branded/credible so that I have a reason to continue to choose Dropbox, because otherwise I'm not the only one who it looks like will need to move on.

Thanks

Jay
Dropbox Staff
Go to solution

Hi @Walt805, a Dropboxer is a person who is employed by Dropbox.

 

This article might help to answer your various questions. In general, files are not compressed when you upload them, so the original size is preserved. The only exception would be when uploading HEIC and HEVC files, for which you have an option to choose a more common format when uploading, which does compress the file.

 

While it isn't explicitly stated that files are compressed on the server itself, when files are being previewed on the site, they use a file format suitable for previewing, so it might result in the file being compressed in some form for the preview alone.

 

However, once a file is downloaded from the site directly, or when synced to a device, the file as it was originally uploaded would appear, without any compression or other changes to the file.

 

Just for clarification, you're looking to compress your files to use up less of your quota on your Dropbox account, given the info in your first post?


Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Walt805
Helpful | Level 6
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Jay, thank you. We're getting closer but this still isn't what I need.

I had not seen the first link, but you're right, it doesn't specifically state whether Dropbox is or is not compressing files.

From what I understand, lossless compression would make it possible for my files to be compressed on the server, but then decompressed at the time I downloaded that individual file. Lossless would mean that I wouldn't ever know, right?

Actually, if I chose to select multiple files at the same time, wouldn't they be .zip'd together first so that I would only download a single file?

That would speak for itself that there is some file compression at play.

Why doesn't Dropbox provide transparency on this? Dropbox is in the business of storing and protecting data. How that data is handled is paramount to the product being sold. Sure most that have specific needs would go to a substantially more complex storage solution, but this is affordable for those ~300 students to use each semester to instill good habits.

Why doesn't someone at Dropbox create a FAQ or knowledge base article on this? It's time for this to happen. People have asked the same question for *years*. What is it that Dropbox doesn't want us to know?

Thanks,
Walt

Jay
Dropbox Staff
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It is possible to select multiple files, or to download an entire folder from the site, and it would be zipped up to then be downloaded. However, this can fail if there are too many files, or too much data itself to be zipped.

 

This could imply that compression doesn't occur on the server, since it would take a long time to process the compression/decompression of files at will, especially when files sync frequently. Given the number of files that sync each second from the millions of users, this would add a lot of processing to each sync, thus slowing the service.

 

Could you clarify why the data compression on the server end is important for your workflow and needs? Does it directly affect how the students would work on their files? 

 

Regarding the protection of files, there are multiple articles on the site referencing the usage of encryption to protect them and the compliance standards that Dropbox follows.


Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Walt805
Helpful | Level 6
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Forget it. We're moving on.

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