Storage Wars: iCloud v. Dropbox

As a previous MobilMe subscriber, I was sad to see it go. I was excited to see a different option, iCloud, and it carried a cheaper yearly subscription fee. Albeit the options were not as vast as MobilMe, but I really wasn’t using all of its features anyhow. So for about a year now, I have dropped the extra iCloud storage fee and relied on Dropbox for my storage needs. The services provided, for me, are relatively the same, but I have noticed some differences. So which one’s worth the cost?

One thing I’ve noticed over the past couple of years is the amount of storage I’m using within different applications. For example, a lot of iOS apps I download are available across all of my devices. If I want the information or data across all devices, I need a place where information is stored and can be accessed by all devices I use. I’m not saying I need a ton of storage, but my needs have definitely increased over the past year.

Initially I used iCloud for all my storage needs. Backing up my iOS devices to iCloud was a mistake for me. It just used too much storage and eventually it chewed up all my iCloud storage capacity. So once I changed back to backing up to iTunes, I felt I was wasting my money with the large amount of storage now available to me in iCloud. What a vicious cycle! I was either using too much or too little. This is when I decided to switch to Dropbox since it was free and I really only needed a small amount of storage after changing my iOS backup options.

Dropbox is a great storage option to link up your iOS devices to share data and information. The interface is pretty seamless once you setup your account and enter in the required information within the applications you want Dropbox as the default save location. Each application will setup a folder where your data will be stored and shared from. I noticed Dropbox has fewer syncing errors than iCloud. A previous review I completed on Day One uses Dropbox for data sharing for my MacBook, iPad, and iPhone 5. All the journal entries I start and/or complete sync in the background without any complications. This was not the case when I first started using Day One. 


iCloud was setup as the default save location for Day One. A couple of weeks after I reviewed Day One, I started having syncing issues with iCloud that could not be fixed. The Day One support department and website were extremely helpful, but apparently this is a known issue for some users if you use iCloud as the default save location. Not exactly sure why I started having a problem though. The final solution was to switch the sync location from iCloud to Dropbox. Problem solved in about 5 minutes. I was told by Day Onesupport that Apple is aware of the issue, but hasn’t really offered up any solutions. This is fairly discouraging since some people are paying Apple for more storage than the free 5 GB of storage and aren’t getting support to fix issues when they arise.

Now that I am using Dropbox for Day One, my storage space is shrinking a little bit day after day. There are other uses I have for Dropbox that aren’t for syncing up my iOS devices information sharing. So I have come to a crossroads where I have been forced to go back to paying iCloud for more storage. They are the cheaper option of the two. After all, I get 5 GB of storage free from Apple and for another $20, I get another 10 GB for a total of 15 GB. That’s not shabby compared to the Dropbox pricing starting at $9.99 or $99 a year for 100 GB of storage. Well, I am not even close to needing that kind of storage, so $20 a year for 15 GB of storage is perfect for me. Now if iCloud could seem to get a better plan for solving issues users are noticing, I might be able to cut the cord with Dropbox. 

When it comes down to it, both are excellent options. Dropbox offers users 2 GB of free storage with a free account. You can invite other users to join and you get awarded free extra storage space that doesn’t expire. It essentially is a pyramid scheme for data storage when you refer people. iCloud offers up 5 GB of free storage, so more than double that of Dropbox, but you may run into trouble with syncing data with applications, on OS and iOS. For the price you’re going to pay Dropbox for 100 GB of storage, you shouldn’t run into any issues with syncing your data across all devices. I hate to imply that since you’re paying the lower cost for iCloud you should just deal with the problems, but money talks. So what I’ve chosen to do is use both. If I run into a problem, I switch the syncing over to Dropbox and just keep my fingers crossed that the problem eventually gets fixed and I can swap out the settings back to iCloud before I run out of free Dropbox storage. It’s a little bit of leg work on my end, but at least I am saving some money for a little bit of my time. 

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About Author

Jeremy McGinty

Jeremy McGinty is an iOS expert and has written over 350 articles relating to Apple and their products over the past two years. Writing about iPhones, iPads, and anything relating to Apple is what Jeremy does in his free time and you’re going to love reading how he’s a normal guy just like you. Jeremy is the most approachable person you’ll ever meet and you should try it out for yourself, send him a message here!

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