Dropbox introduces 3 device limit on free accounts

Just saw this on the Scrivener forums. I have been contemplating my Dropbox exit strategy but this will unfortunately complicate things. I need 3 macs to sync Alfred prefs and 2 iOS devices for Scrivener…


Thank goodness this still works for me…iPad + iPhone + iMac. But even so, I’ve moved file management over to OneDrive and couldn’t be happier.

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As noted in the article, you won’t be able to add more devices to a free account. If you’re already over, it doesn’t sound like you’ll have to pay.

Oh well, because I have 2 Macs, a MacBook and two iOS devices this will affect me. Thankfully I have a free OneDrive account with my job, so I’ll be moving everything to that now. Such a shame as I’ve been a DropBox user for 10 years, but I’ve never used anywhere near the limit on my free account.

I’ll be affected because I have more than 3 devices now but I intend to add a Mac Mini one day.

£9 a month is doable - and it gets me 1TB, rather than the 200GB I live with today. (I once - with Audacity files - hit the 200GB limit and stopped storing those files in Dropbox. (I no longer use Audacity - in favour of Ferrite.))

But I don’t begrudge Dropbox some money - as they don’t SPAM me with adverts and I do rely on Dropbox heavily.

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FWIW, There have been deals on Dropbox Pro accounts for $20-30 off around Black Friday. I’ve taken advantage of that for the last two years. Makes it a super deal.

I just start watching over at http://slickdeals.net for it. Hopefully the pattern continues.


I think it’s probably fair for Dropbox to want to charge someone who makes extensive use of their product. Three seems like a reasonable cutoff to me, especially since the company is burdened with free users (like me and you) who don’t pay a dime. As far as I know the company has never turned a profit, and last year they lost $485m. (in 2017 they lost $112m, in 2016 they lost $210m, and in 2015 they lost $326m.)

Don’t shed a tear for Dropbox, but they won’t for the freeloaders they shed either.

It’s difficult to draw blood from a stone… er, I mean monetize content management cloud services. Even a company like box.com, which swerved to focus on business services instead of the consumer cloud, has been losing in the range of $150m a year for the last several years.

Popular single-purpose companies like Spotify and Dropbox - even with free tiers - have significant challenges when competing against services owned by companies with diverse income streams. It’s not preposterous to expect them to tighten the features of the free tiers in order to make the pay tiers more attractive.


Well, this will not work for me, but I am not angry and I get it. They need to switch to a sustainable business model if they want to have a chance to survive.

To me, Dropbox was like magic, when I started using the service. It was in their early years and using referral codes, I was able to increase my storage to 8 GB. This sounds ridiculous these days given the fact that almost everything comes with 1 TB of storage. But to me, this was just fine because the synchronization was and is amazing. When there was no sync in apps, you could do it just by using Dropbox. First, it was like a hack and then more und more apps started to use Dropbox syncing.

Today, I still have my Dropbox account, but when I looked through it, most of the content was just old stuff. None of my apps uses Dropbox for synchronization any more. And for cloud storage I use iCloud and OneDrive. Being the Apple user I am there is no way not using iCloud and being a Office365 subscriber I get 1 TB of storage in their cloud (OneDrive).

Given the integration both of iCloud and OneDrive in MacOS, iOS and windows, I cannot justify to pay for a third cloud service.

So, today I reconsidered my use of cloud storage and from now on it will be:

  • iCloud for Apple related stuff (photo, some device syncing and so on),
  • OneDrive (not so private data that has to be in the cloud),
  • Synology Drive (for the more sensitive data).

I think this might be more palatable if Dropbox’s pricing didn’t go from free straight to $9.99/month. That much just to use >3 devices is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

I’m already paying for Dropbox due to the amount of data I have in there, so this isn’t going to affect me directly, but it doesn’t exactly endear them to me either.


Interesting segmentation. I think I might actually subscribe when I am prompted to. It’s materially better than the other services and even though I maxed out the free size, I would get a lot of utility from moving more files into it and making use of the extended history.

I would miss the utility of not having to think about whether I’m using it enough to justify the cost. Paying annually would mitigate that, but still.


I cannot imagine a Cloud service that can sustain itself to be all three of good quality AND free AND unlimited.

I’d rather see an explicit pay structure above a cutoff point to sustain quality for all than fight a hidden pay structure (ads) to sustain “free” use but ultimately affecting quality for all.



I just saw this and realized that I have to get off of Dropbox. I’m well over the limit, and the problem is that I can’t add any new device without deleting half a dozen first. I’m only using 120MB and most of that is for Quicken. I can limit myself to the requisite 3 systems for that, and put everything else but 1Password to my self-hosted cloud using Resilio Sync. For 1Password I’ll just bite the bullet and get the subscription. (I hate software subscriptions, but at least 1Password I use daily so it’s not so bad.)

Like others, I’ll be affected by this. I have two iPhones (one for work, one for personal), one iPad (soon to be two) and one Mac (soon to be two). But I think I’ll just shell out for a paid plan. I rely extensively on Dropbox for so much, and they’re a service that probably deserves my money - even if we’d all rather have everything free!

I have been trying to love iCloud for a few months. iCloud’s insistence that I organize my folders their way drives me crazy. I inexplicably lost a Pages file last month. I was able to recover it, but it took about 30 minutes of fussing around. Dropbox has been rock solid since day one. The reality is, I trust it more. That is worth paying for. My real complaint is that I’m also paying for iCloud because they offer so little storage for free you almost have to.

I have a personal and a work account. I don’t know whether this would allow you three devices per account to do what you need without paying.


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iTunes Match is supposed to activate automatically when logged into any OS including Windows, but you might want to read these just to be prepared.




I’m surprised Dropbox doesn’t offer smaller paid tiers. Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. offer smaller packages at reasonable rates.

Now that they own their own datacenters I would think any extra income would be welcome.

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Ha, I’m glad I’m a 1Password subscriber and no longer sync its database via Dropbox, as I sync between more than 3 devices.

I hardly use Dropbox these days. I even uninstalled the clients on macOS and Windows.

I do wish that some (iOS) Apps that only use Dropbox for their cloud storage would offer iCloud or other options as well.

Same here. I only use Dropbox when an IOS app doesn’t offer iCloud or Google Drive. A Hazel rule on my old Mac Mini moves anything in Dropbox to Google Drive.

I misread this as £9.99 a month. In the end the annual fee was £6.58. I’ve gone for this and can now change my practices to use the extra space.

For balance I pay £3 a month for 200GB of iCloud space, so I’m not sore about it.

Has anyone any experience with Paper that comes for free with DropBox Plus? I tried to export a test document to Markdown but couldn’t find the ellipsis (…) on the page that you’re supposed to be able to click on - on the web.