Dropbox vs Mountain Lion
July 26, 2012 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Which elements of Dropbox are now present in Mountain Lion and which aren't?

I am a longtime dropbox subscriber. I have the max pro subscription which until recently was 100GB for $199/year, and is now 200GB for that same price. At first, I thought iCloud on the Mac would kill dropbox, but then it came and I couldn't figure out what iCloud was really doing. Then I upgraded to Mountain Lion yesterday and today noticed that I can share folders, which is what is prompting this askmefe. I thought how I use dropbox and ask if that same functionality exists in Mountain View. I sometimes have a hard time really discerning if a particular application, filled with computer jargon, really will have the same functionality as what I have come to expect.

I am an academic and I use dropbox to share folders with (a) myself across devices and (b) coauthors. As a third use, I also use it as a safety feature so that I am less likely to lose my data in the event of a hard drive crash (although I still use Time Machine to back up nightly, I like the additional security of dropbox knowing a copy of my dropbox folders are there, and as I use the 200GB, that's increasingly becoming all of my folders).

The most common thing I use these folders for is the storage of spreadsheets and the construction of statistical programs that analyze the data. When iCloud first came out, I couldn't see how I would ever get that same functionality, though. For instance, I write a program that pulls data from a local folder (e.g., "use /dropbox/folder/dataset") using unix commands to move through the folder structure. But where were the iCloud folders? It seemed to be for storing photos and "documents", although I use text-editors, MS Word and LaTeX so the document storage didn't help me anyway.

But then this morning, I noticed a share button in a folder within dropbox. (I can't find the dropbox share folder button when I right-click anymore, but I just downloaded the new dropbox app so maybe it's there). If you can share local folders, then how much of the functionality I've come to expect with dropbox is actually there now? Can anyone access my folders? Even non-Mac users? (That's part of the value of dropbox -- it doesn't matter what OS they're using). Can the other person change the files once I've shared them?

What if I'm traveling and I'm wanting to access that folder from another computer, because that's where I've stored my files? I also like that I'm no longer penalized for not having a flash drive (I always hated flash drives). NOw I just pull it up from dropbox no matter where I am. But I don't think I can do that with this new Mountain Lion sharing feature can I?
posted by scunning to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
iCloud is not really a replacement for Dropbox at this point. You can't put arbitrary files into it, and you can't have more than one level of folder hierarchy in it. Check out the iCloud segment from John Siracusa's epic Mountain Lion review to see what it can and can't do: Don't be fooled into thinking that iCloud document storage is Apple's version of Dropbox with deeper OS integration.
posted by zsazsa at 11:49 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

zsazsa -- So what am I sharing when I'm sharing an entire folder in Mountain Lion? You're saying I'm not sharing the contents of that folder, except for those that iCloud covers? Yes, that is definitely different than I understood if true.
posted by scunning at 11:53 AM on July 26, 2012

But then this morning, I noticed a share button in a folder within dropbox. (I can't find the dropbox share folder button when I right-click anymore, but I just downloaded the new dropbox app so maybe it's there).

The "share" button in Finder in Mountain Lion lets you email or send a file via iMessage. From what I can tell, you can't share a file with other uses.

If you do upload a file into iCloud you can go online to iCloud.com and download it there so if you're in a jam you can recover the file when you're away from your computer.

The Mountain Lion iCloud integration holds a lot of promise but it isn't an Dropbox killer. It is great for sharing between your Mac and iOS devices and using Apple apps (mostly, there's a few iCloud enabled 3rd party apps) but if you're trying to share with other people, use non-Apple products and apps, you should stick to Dropbox.
posted by birdherder at 6:21 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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