Elliot Jay Stocks is a designer, speaker, and author. He is the Creative Director of Adobe Typekit, the founder of typography magazine 8 Faces, one half of Viewport Industries, and an electronic musician.

An open letter to Dropbox

Posted on 10 April 2011 Comments

Article illustration for An open letter to Dropbox

Earlier this week, I wrote about a potential new Mac set-up; one reliant on Dropbox, not for its back-up capabilities, but for its main function: the ability to seamlessly sync multiple files across multiple computers.

I’ve been a big fan of Dropbox for quite some time, and in all honesty, I don’t think I personally know of a web professional who doesn’t use the service in at least some capacity. 2010 seemed to be the year that the app fell into mainstream use, too, as numerous not-particularly-web-savvy clients started sharing Dropbox folders with me and non-webby friends started using it for online back-up. 2010 was also the year that I moved the majority of my files into Dropbox, having subscribed to the largest plan at the beginning of the year. And over time, I managed to increase my storage space through referrals (yes, that’s a referral link).

However, as happy as I am with the service, there are three key improvements I’m hoping we’ll see implemented in the near future. These could be vital in using Dropbox to embrace the concept of ‘the cloud’ in our everyday lives.

  • Larger storage, please! I don’t mind that this will cost more. I’m happy to spend money on such a great service. But right now, I’m limited. I have all of my client work on there, my personal paperwork, and various application resources such as libraries for FontExplorer X, TextExpander, Little Snapper, and The Hit List, but the space isn’t big enough to hold my photo, music, TV, or movie libraries.
  • The second request relates to the first: Please let us store our Dropbox on external drives! Although the main reason my media libraries aren’t stored there is down to space, it’s also because I intentionally keep these libraries on external drives.
  • The third request relates to the second: Please allow us more than one Dropbox folder! There would be no point in allowing the folder to live exclusively on an external drive because it would only be able to sync and back-up from one location, so the only way for this to work realistically is if we’re able to set up multiple Dropboxes. They might all live on the internal drive; they might live on external drives; they might exist on a combination of both.

When the Amazon Cloud Drive arrives in the UK, or when Apple eventually release their iTunes Locker service, I’ll most likely use one of them to back-up my music library and play it back across multiple devices. Granted, that kind of ‘sync’ (really just cloud access) is different to the service Dropbox offers, but if I could, I would prefer to use Dropbox for all my cloud-syncing needs.

If even one of the three ‘wish list’ items above was implemented soon, Dropbox would be better placed for multimedia management and therefore in a much better position to compete with Amazon and Apple’s services. Right now, Dropbox’s web interface displays a folder of images in a gallery; the interface reflecting the folder’s content. What if that was taken one step further for the playback of music or video?

Dropbox, you’re great. You’ve changed the way I work, and now you’ve changed the way I buy computers. I can’t wait to see what you have up your sleeves.

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