Dropbox vs. Traditional Online Backup Services

Dropbox is a popular online storage and file sharing service that provides some of the features of a traditional online backup solution but typically serves a slightly different purpose. To ensure that our reviews provide an “apples to apples” representation of the services offered by online backup companies, we decided not to include Dropbox with our reviews, as comparing Dropbox’s features with those of the other services would become confusing.

Learn more about the differences between file sharing and online backup programs

Why Use Dropbox?

Dropbox is a terrific solution if your main desire is to effortlessly store some of your files online for access from multiple devices, such as your desktop computer, your laptop, and your smartphone, or to share files with someone else.

Dropbox creates a folder on your computer or mobile device into which you can copy files that are instantly uploaded to your account. This service contrasts with a traditional online backup interface in that Dropbox is not designed to back up every single file on your machine. However, Dropbox makes sharing files with other Dropbox users a cinch because you can sync a folder with anyone else who has a Dropbox account regardless of your affiliation.

Why Use Traditional Online Backup Services?

If your main goal is to securely back up all or most of the files on your computer to prevent data loss, we recommend a traditional online backup service over Dropbox. Since Dropbox’s interface is intended to make it simple to locate all of your files for sharing in the same location, you must manually copy all of your files into your Dropbox folder anytime you want them backed up. In order to back up your entire computer with Dropbox, you'd have to manually set your Dropbox folder as the root folder containing all other folders on your computer. However, there are documented accounts online of Dropbox significantly slowing down your computer and using too much memory when used in this manner.

With a traditional online backup service, you can select folders that already exist on your computer to be periodically backed up upon initial install. After that, you need to think about your service only in the event of a lost file. You can simply work as you normally would, while your online backup service automatically backs up any file you have changed.

Compare online backup services.