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Don't kill Public folders

Ending support of public folder

New member | Level 2
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Just heard from dropbox that support for the public folder is ending.



As a result, we’ll soon be ending support for the Public folder. Dropbox Pro users will be able to use the Public folder until
September 1, 2017. After that date the files in your Public folder will become private, and links to these files will be deactivated. Your files will remain safe in Dropbox.

If you’d like to keep sharing files in your Public folder, you can create new shared links. Just make sure to send the new URLs to your collaborators.



It is one of the most useful features of the service for me as I use it to get links to single files that I can send to people without setting up shared folders and requiring them to have dropbox accounts.

(Save file to my public folder locally, syncs, right click, get publick link, paste. Doesn't get any easier than that.)

It's also useful for bb style forum posts where you can link to images with an easy tag.


With the public folder support being removed, is there going to be an alternative solution to allow easy public sharing of single files?

659 Replies 659

Bob J.
Helpful | Level 6
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Oh dear! No Public folder access even for Pro.
It started with no html access which did not affect me too much as I was using kml - BUT?

I support a number of systems to provide public access to some conservation work I do with Google Earth.
I maintain a small group of short urls to a set of kml files stored in my public folder. e.g.

These provide kml code to view trap locations and results and are updated frequently.
In turn some traps have links to image files of those traps. This allows the trap sponsors to see on Google Earth a picture of 'their' traps. This works really well.
The image files reside on another shared DropBox maintained by the trap owners and need to have calculable file names via a DropBox folder rather than individually coded file names. So the :
rather than:

which do not show up in Google Earth.

I moved to DropBox Pro to maintain this a little longer.

My DropBox options are getting smaller by the day

In another project i have similar links to tiny html files so that a client can scan a QR code on a chemical bottle and get a quick view of its contents, and more importantly to access safety information using their phone.

My use of both of these now ends in less than a year.

What to do?

Bob J.

New member | Level 2
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Yes, if anybody has an option that is similar to Dropbox (especially the use of a Public folder), please do share. I realize this is Dropbox's forum, and I don't want to incite cross-advertising, but I don't think I'll stick with Dropbox.


Why? Because I don't see a reason for this change other than to stir up the pot.

Helpful | Level 5
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The news from 4 months ago said that HTML pages can no longer be served via the public folder, it said absolutely NOTHING about the public folder going away - I have thought this would mean you'd simply refuse to serve such files or serve it with the application/octet-stream mimetype.
I find this ironic because dropbox at some stage auto-generated an index.html file for each level in the public folder.

IMO this is a very nasty and unwelcome bait and switch.

I also think your "new share page" is complete and utter aids.
I have no need for the forced community/social media aspect of it, and the last time someone linked me to a tiny little webm using it, it played back at 5 SPF (that is seconds per frame) because the page itself for whatever reason added so much overhead.

Helpful | Level 5
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This is a real shame. Normal public /u links were superior to the new /s links. I understand that the old style of sharing was vulnerable to filename guessing, but I accept that in exchange for the superior convenience, and being able to give people direct links instead of links to slow-loading dynamic pages with poorly zoomed images.


Unless some option to use this is retained, I'm afraid I'll be looking for a new cloud storage provider in March 2017.

Pablo f.6
Helpful | Level 7
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Alternatives from Dropbox ; If it is to help I can indicate the following:


Amazon S3 (Cheap and Easy)

You just need to click on the file and choose the function 'make a public'



Google Cloud


You just need to select the public link option and click on it to copy the link


Canceling my dropbox account yet this month I suggest a bulk cancellation!!!





Helpful | Level 7
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TL; DR: Please listen to your users, and change your mind about killing the Public folder!


Dear Dropbox,


I just received notice that you'll be discontinuing the Public folder feature next year.  Could you please explain why you are doing so?


I've been using this handy feature ever since I first started with Dropbox many years ago.  It's very convienient to simply drop in a file, and grab the URL with a single click.  Using your "Share Links" feature takes more steps and is not as frictionless an experience.


I have over 300 files in my Public folder, and it would be impractical to manage all of them as shared links.  The tooling you provide stinks.  e.g. There are places in your product where it simply throws up a dropdown of all your shared items.  Good luck digging through hundreds of entries for the one you want in a tiny little UI element like this (taken from your Support system):



Searching and filtering are badly needed, along with the ability to maintain hierarchy (or at least some kind of tagging/grouping) when creating / viewing / managing links.  I already get all of this for free by simply using the Public folder and my everyday desktop shell.


One of the key things I use my Public folder for is to house assets for posts I make to forums, bulletin boards, etc., particularly when the system I'm posting to doesn't support images.  I put the images or files I want to share in my Public folder, and post the link (or insert the image via URL) as content in my post.  I used this as a convenient alternative to uploading the files to my FTP server.  My intent was for these shared links to be reasonably permenant (at least so long as I pay my Dropbox bill).


The links are still out in the wild web today, and in some cases I am simply not able to update them.  e.g. Often I would use TinyURL to obfuscate the user id portion of my Dropbox link (at least from casual users / web crawlers), and to provide a more human-friendly URL.  Those links cannot be changed once created. In other cases I no longer have access to the forum system, or if I do, they don't allow editing of old posts.  But the content is still up there for the world to see and click, and on a regular basis is still useful to the community I shared it with.


Now you're telling me that on September 1, the lights go off and all those links will go dead.  Despite the fact that I'm continuing to pay my bill.


One of the things I hate most on the internet is Dead Links.  How often has a web search led you to an old forum post that would nail down the answer to a question you have, if only the images didn't all come up as "Image not found"?



When I share content, I make an effort to only use services from providers I trust who will keep that content where I put it indefinitely (or at least until I'm no longer around to care).  It was a big deal and leap of faith, moving from my FTP server to using your software instead.  I trusted you.  You broke that trust.  And now you're going to make me look like a fool on every single forum where I included content from my Dropbox.


I tried Shared Links out when you first introduced them, and wasn't impressed.  In addition to requiring more cognitive overhead by the end user to utilize them, and the poor tooling described above, I found the user experience for people I was sharing content with to be unacceptable.  Instead of simply clicking the link I sent them to directly download the file, they are taken to a Dropbox webpage where they need to perform more clicks and/or suffer an HTTP Redirect to get at the file.  This breaks certain workflows where my intent is to simply provide a direct link.


At one point you even tried to use my links to drive user adoption, by making it look and feel like the person had to create a Dropbox account before gaining access to my content.  I'm not sure if this is still the case, but it was quite frankly a sleazy thing to do.


I generally share content in my Public folder with individual users or within small communities focused on a particular topic I'm interested in.  I'm careful not to use the feature in a manner that would generate "high-traffic" or break your ToS.  I'm just an everyday, technically-savvy fellow who finds your Public folder extremely convenient.


I'm sure there are others out there using the Public folder in various ways to make their lives better.  In fact, a lot of people feel the same way I do:


I can only imagine the aggravation it will cause folks all over the web when September hits and the lights go out all over corners of the internet.


I urge you to keep the Public folder alive.


If I can't change your mind, then I beg you to at least give us an easy way to migrate all our existing Public folder items into shared links in a manner that retains their current "legacy" URL's.

Note: For anyone reading, this entry was originally in the form of a Feature Request which overnight got upvoted to a Top 10 spot on the company's tracker.  After a mention on Slashdot, Dropbox expunged the request and interleaved the content into this discussion thread instead.

Explorer | Level 4
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I've never posted here before, but this was important enough for me to make an account on the forums just to post.


The main reason I've been using Dropbox for years is how easy it's been for me to share images on forums via the public folder. When I started running out of space, instead of using any of the other similar file hosting sites, I shelled out for Pro because of how happy I was with how things worked. I'm so disappointed.


I don't mind having to run some sort of extra bbcode generation thing for forums in the future, but breaking years and years of image posts (these aren't just dumb memes, mind you, but works in progress, tutorials and guide for artwork, stuff in a professional setting), to the images being moved is extremely inconvenient.


Dropbox, if I can't trust you to keep my old links working, how can I trust you to keep my future files safe and accessible? Surely that's not unreasonable to ask that my old image files would still work?

Helpful | Level 7
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If you're not happy about this news, I urge you to make some noise.


Upvote my request for Dropbox to change their minds:


Helpful | Level 6
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Between this and the upcoming removal of the HTML-rendering I am seriously considering cancelling my Pro account with DropBox and just paying for my own (well, cloud hosted) server and using another sync app to keep it up to date. It would have more features that way as I could also host HTML content on it!

Helpful | Level 7
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Addendum for other users like me:


  • I'm told you can turn shared links into direct links by changing "dl=0" to "dl=1" in the URL.  It would be nice if there were an account setting to make that default.

  • I realize there's a security concern around the existing Public folder, namely that adversaries can attempt to reverse engineer your folder structure and filenames to gain access to other files in your Public folder.  I'm OK with that limitation (in fact, in some cases that's exactly how I want it to work).  I simply make sure a) folder names in my Public folder are unique enough to make this unlikely, and b) not to put content in my Public folder that is so sensitive I would care if someone were successful in this attack.

    I also contacted Dropbox a few years ago when they first "turned off" the Public folder by default on new accounts (2012?), to ask if there were other security concerns (e.g. from having my User ID number publicly viewable).  They didn't identify any.

I think this topic hit a chord.  There's some more discussion on Reddit, in the Dropbox forums on yCombinator's HackerNews, and around the web.

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