Dropbox: do you trust them with your data?

Maybe that’s something specific to sparse bundle then, because normally Google Drive will recopy the whole file each time.

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Yes, AFAIK, this type file is unique to Macs. It is similar in construction to applications.

Forgive me if this is common knowledge: You can right click on a .sparsebundle file and select “Show Package Contents”. This will reveal a folder named “bands”, along with files named info.bckup, Info.plist, and token. As you add files, new bands are created. From what I’ve observed, only the changes to the bundle are uploaded.


Given that the Resilio Sync folder is a git folder, it’ll be easy to see if any files get deleted.

I’ve used RS to sync to Dropbox on several folders for a long time and never had an issue. Glitches are always possible whenever sync is a factor, but I’ve used RS since its Mac beta days, it’s been rock-solid for me.

A few years ago I had thousands of files deleted off Dropbox for no discernible reason. Some people have had major problems with iCloud. Others have never had a problem with any of them. Sync is hard.

Thanks @WayneG, I didn’t know that. That would explain why it works on all clouds for sparsebundles.

@tjluoma I won’t argue there, I had my fair share of problem with all cloud provider (and other sync product like Resilio sync and Cloud Station or Drive on Synology). From my experience, Dropbox is still the most stable and fast, but like you said, everybody has its own experience and will be biased based on it.

Just yesterday a silent, and unwanted update of Dropbox got me thinking about the service.

As the article points out, nobody (even the Fix the Finder crowd) wants a new file manager on their machines that already have file managers. Plus, currently anyway, the dock icon cannot be turned off.

Been using Dropbox for a long time, but this has really thrown me; thinking of migrating away.

This thing is a disaster. I found my MBP with fans on when I’d left it doing nothing at all. Something was using a lot of CPU and when I checked it, you guessed it, it was the new and “improved” Dropbox app. I think this is the end for Dropbox on my devices.

So far I have not been hit by this new “feature” in Dropbox, but clearly following the IPO Dropbox has turned its attention to revenue over customers. Not surprising but certainly changes the role Dropbox may play for some of us.

The problem I have with moving away from Dropbox is this:
As was the intent of my original post on this topic, it is hard to get away from Dropbox because
a) they provide (or did provide?) the most robust file syncing platform, in that Dropbox syncs MacOS extended attributes such as Finder tags, which is something I need, and
b) so many 3rd party apps have settled on Dropbox as the only supported file sharing platform (think Alfred preferences and workflows, Keyboard Maestro, Drafts, for example). If there were a uniform API for this kind of operation that other sync platforms also supported that might be difference (I believe Alfred specifically cautions against using iCloud for syncing Alfred data, for example).

I would personally prefer a service like Sync.com, or my own cloud via ResilioSync, for example, but these services do not provide the same level of integration as Dropbox for these other apps (and Sync.com does not support syncing Finder tags and other extended attributes, with the stated explanation that the client-side zero-knowledge encryption prevents syncing extended attributes, which I admit I don’t really understand as it would be, I would think, not that difficult to package that data into an encrypted side-car file invisible to the end-user, but I guess it’s more complex than that).

That’s going to be the problem with migrating away from Dropbox - what’s going to be the replacement?

I dropped Dropbox :wink: about a half a year ago. The only reason I stayed with them until then was the reason you have given above. I thought so too.

The thing is that this is not true any longer. I am not sure about Alfred (I do not really use Alfred), but both Keyboard Maestro and Drafts are able to use iCloud for syncing and I have not had any issues.

If you use iCloud, the important thing is not to enable Apple’s optimized storage feature:

For me, Apple’s optimized storage is not useful, anyway. I like to have control over the stuff I have on my Mac.

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Those who use Scrivener on both Mac and iOS are still forced to use Dropbox for cloud sync, although there are hints that there may be an easier way with the difference in how Catalina will handle sync.

In addition, the iOS app Road Trip recently added iCloud as a cloud sync option after previously working with only Dropbox.

As a result of these and other changes, the reasons that previously kept many with Dropbox are eroding, even as Dropbox seems weirdly determined to make itself less attractive.

I don’t trust any cloud sync services with personal, financial documents. I do trust Dropbox, iCloud, Droplr, CloudApp, SkyDrive and GDrive for anything else, because anything else is not essential.

I have the free Dropbox tier and don’t anticipate needing anything more, since I would only sync 3 devices maximum, and only for the ever-shrinking list of apps which require it.

I think you might be mistaken… some apps may only use Dropbox, but not the three that you mention.

Drafts on the Mac very clearly uses iCloud for sync:

Keyboard Maestro and Alfred both just ask you to point at the file/folder where you can find the sync data for it. Both of them are perfectly happy to put their sync data in ~/.config/ which I sync using Resilio Sync (neé BitTorrent Sync). I’ve been using that for years without any issue.

(I use RS for stuff that I need to sync right away, especially when setting up a new Mac, since Dropbox can take forever to get its initial setup done. Each folder is its own sync process, so a large file in one folder doesn’t prevent the other folders from syncing. So my shell scripts and text files sync pretty much instantly even if I have a video file syncing elsewhere.)

BBEdit will sync to either iCloud or Dropbox, although they do recommend Dropbox, as their experience with iCloud has apparently been less-than-stellar.

Even if I were desperate to move away from Dropbox, I would almost certainly retain a free 2GB account for working with others who use Dropbox shares, etc.


Thank you for the feedback.

You are quite correct about Drafts. In fact, I checked and I am already using iCloud sync for Drafts.

Alfred does caution against using iCloud. I have not tried it (or KM) with ResilioSync, but since that is my main sync store, I will move both to that platform this weekend and see how it works out. I am glad to hear that my concerns were unfounded.

Sadly, ResilioSync’s integration with the Files app on iOS is inferior to Dropbox, but it is adequate for my needs, and maybe it will be better under the next versions of MacOS and iOS.

I often use Drafts to create files or append data to files in Dropbox, and I don’t know if it can be used as easily with other sync stores like Resilio. I will have to do some experimentation. For me, nothing that I generally do with Drafts in this manner has need of being secure or private.

I would ideally like to move away from Dropbox so that I have everything in one place, and of course ResilioSync’s ability to have multiple folders managed allows a lot of flexibility as well.

The lack of an online web-based access method might be a problem as well, but I cannot recall the last time I went to the Dropbox web site to access a file, so for me that is not a limiting factor.

Thanks again for the feedback; gives me some things to work on.

How do you get the .config folder to sync to the same folder on another Mac? Symbolic Link? I went to set this up, so I could sync over a few other applications configs, but realized you cannot specify the destination on a new Mac, instead it defaults to the Resilio Sync folder in the user home directory.


Resilio Sync can sync folders anywhere. It will default to putting folders in ~/Resilio Sync/ but you can just change that by clicking the “Change…” button when you go to sync the folder on your other Mac.

So, on the first Mac, just drag the ~/.config/ folder to the Resilio Sync window. Then when you go to your other Macs, you should see it offering to sync .config.

If it is already syncing, just disconnect it and then re-connect it, and when it shows you the folder it is going to use, point it at ~/.config/ instead.

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Thanks! I didn’t realize on reconnect you could choose where to put the folder.

Yup! Not only that, but there’s another way to use this feature too:

You can use different folder names on different computers.

For example, if I have an iMac with a folder ~/txt/ that is in Resilio Sync, and I connect that folder to my MacBook, I can call that folder ~/Documents/Stuff/MyTextFolderFromTheiMac/

So you don’t need to use the same folder name everywhere.

If you do this often and want to change the location and/or name of folders on your other Macs, you can set the “Default Connect Folder Mode” to Disconnected by going to the Preferences, then selecting “Identity” in the left-hand column, and then choosing the dropdown as shown here:

I hope this helps.

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