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Even a person with the most passing interest in cloud storage likely has a Dropbox account. When cloud syncing and storage was in its relative infancy, Dropbox was a miracle worker: a little piece of software that ensured you could stash and grab your files from anywhere without hassle.

These days, there are numerous Dropbox alternatives (Wikipedia lists a dizzying array of upwards of 25 right now) for you to choose from. So why would you move away from the comfortable confines of Dropbox?

Perhaps you’re worried because Dropbox was affected by Heartbleed, but then again almost everything was. Maybe you’re worried about file security, even though Dropbox is generally as safe and secure as most law-related computer storage methods. (Sadly, digging a bunker under the earth and burying your physical client files there is an unattainable choice for most of us.) You could be mad that Dropbox tapped Condoleezza Rice for its board. No matter what your reason, you can now jump ship and take your data with you. Here are five that you may consider.

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SpiderOak

Unlike Dropbox, Spideroak’s servers keep no unencrypted data. Spideroak calls it a “zero-knowledge” environment, which is just a snappy way of saying that their staff and the government can not see your data (because even if Spideroak gives it up, it’s just a pile of encrypted nonsense). That said, you also won’t see your data if you forget your password.

What Do You Get for Your Money

  • 2 GB: Free
  • 100 GB: $10/month or $100/year
  • Extra storage can be purchased in 100 GB increments for $10 a month or $100 a year.

MEGA

Did we say that Spideroak was for the security-obsessed? Spideroak is for pikers compared to MEGA, which namechecks Edward Snowden, boasts end-to-end encryption (where your data is encrypted on the uploading device before it goes to the internet and decrypts after it arrives on the downloaded device), and helpfully provides a list of the many ways your data can still be hacked.

Sounds great!

However, your clients may dislike you using a New Zealand-based company run by Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now defunct MegaUpload, which allegedly shared a cool half-billion dollars of copyrighted material.

What You Get for Your Money

  • 50 GB: Free
  • 500 GB: 10 euros a month (roughly $11 a month at current exchange rates)
  • 4 TB: 30 euros a month (roughly $34 a month at current exchange rates)

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Cubby

Cubby is part of the same company that makes the remote desktop client LogMeIn, so if you are using them as your remote client, Cubby dovetails nicely. However, LogMeIn got rid of their free remote access making Cubby a less attractive option than it once was. At the introductory price of $48 a year for 100 GB, Cubby comes in quite a bit below Dropbox’s $10 a month for the same amount.

If you are a person that likes to share a lot of files on the fly — especially big files — Cubby is an excellent choice. The desktop app allows you to drag and drop any folder into it and automatically turn it into a Cubby — a discrete storage folder that it will sync on the fly while maintaining your existing file structure. You can then right-click that folder (or any file within) to generate a shareable link. Cubby’s sharing options are less clunky than Dropbox’s, and there is no limit on the size (that we have found).

The iOS and Android apps are nicely done, but that is a bare minimum for cloud storage services at this point. Sadly, as nice as the drag and drop interface is, Cubby’s $48 a year intro price was aggressive two years ago but has now been utterly obliterated by the next choice.

What You Get for Your Money

  • 5 GB: Free
  • 100 GB: $4 a month introductory rate for one year and $7 a month after that.
  • 1 TB and five users enterprise solution: $39.99 a month

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Google Drive

Who should use it?

It was only a matter of time before the 800-pound gorilla of the Internet was going to slash its prices far below what most other storage services could offer. If you use Google Docs, you can not pass up using Drive. 15 GB is more than an ample amount of space for most actual document storage (and docs created in Google do not count towards the limit).

Some of that 15 GB is chewed up by your Gmail, as all Google services use the same bucket of data. So if you’re a Gmail power user or are just guilty of storing everything there (raises hand) you might want to spring for 100 GB. Like everything else Google, the online interface and the apps are aggressively utilitarian, but free is free.

What You Get For Your Money

  • 15 GB: Free
  • 100 GB: $2 a month
  • 1 TB: $10 a month

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MediaFire

There is likely no circumstance under which you will use 100 TB of data, but if you are going to, MediaFire will be there. This is the new big kid on the block, clearly positioned to fight with Google by offering a full terabyte for only $30 a year. The desktop app has a way to go, as things are a bit unintuitive. On the other hand, the web interface is gorgeous, clean, and easy to navigate, so if you don’t feel beholden to a desktop, the web interface is the way to go. MediaFire also allows you to “follow” files, which seems to be the same thing as Google Drive’s file sharing, but with more steps and a complicated explanation.

Once MediaFire works out the bugs, they could be a strong contender. However, it is clear from the site itself, which brags about unlimited downloads, download resuming, and zero wait times is still much more about file sharing than file syncing. They also make no mention of their security standards. At this stage, it isn’t quite ready for legal file storage prime time yet.

What You Get for Your Money

  • 10 GB: Free
  • 1 TB: $2.50 a month
  • 100 TB: $3,750 a quarter

Updates

  • 2014-04-14. Originally published.
  • 2015-05-01. Updated pricing for services.

29 Comments

  1. Craig Hensel says:

    Why does Egnyte always get ignored on these lists? It has the best granular permissions control of any of them (I know that several of the ones that made the list aren’t capable of easily Chinese Walling off a conflicted associate from a single matter) and, unlike some of the others, is just as easy as Dropbox to use.

    • Sam Glover says:

      Unfortunately, Egnyte’s 5-user minimum ($40/month) makes it unsuitable for around half the lawyers in the country (and most of the readers of Lawyerist).

      • Craig Hensel says:

        That’s reasonable. I was annoyed when they implemented that. That said, it becomes worthwhile compared to the competition when you hit ~3 users. I would agree at 1 or 2, you’re better off elsewhere.

  2. Paul Spitz says:

    Really good overview, Lisa! I must confess, I probably slid into Dropbox by default (kind of the same way most of us ended up in law school…history majors, anyone?), but I have no current gripes with it.

    I do wonder, however, how easy is the process for migrating files from one service to another? Do they offer some kind of tool that reaches into your existing cloud storage, extracts the files, and automatically loads them into your new service?

    • qning says:

      Do it on your desktop. Drag the contents of your Dropbox (for example) folder into the sync directory of your “replacement” app.

      (I suggest a right-click drag and select Copy, not move.)

  3. Paul McGuire says:

    First of all, multiple page display for something like this? Really?

    Second, no mention of Sugarsync? Sure it is a little disappointing they don’t have a free option beyond a free trial anymore but at $75 a year for 60gb the price is good. I really like the ability to select any folder you want to sync and then select where you want it to be stored in your second computer. For those who want more control over where everything is stored rather than just dropping everything into the shared folder, this is something few other companies support. The mobile app generally works well too.

    • I’ll admit to an anti-Sugarsync bias from using it ages ago when someone else had set it up for shared users – I found it weirdly aggressive in terms of what it kept trying to sync and didn’t give me as much control as I wanted. Sounds like that has changed and $75 for 60GB is definitely a good price.

      • Paul McGuire says:

        I did have some issues in the past once I had set up photo syncing when I tried to stop syncing photos and switch to Google Plus auto backup but since then they have given the interface a general overhaul. They did give me a huge discount on a year when they switched to paid only because I didn’t think I needed more than 5gb at the time but by the time it comes to updating next year I’ll probably renew if the price stays similar.

      • Jay Brinker says:

        I am with Paul. I like Sugarsync because I like how it plays nicely with my file structure. I can access all of my files without having to add them to my Dropbox folder. I think I pay $50/yr for $30 gb. The more I become familiar with it, the more I like it.

    • Agreed that this should not be a multi page display and that Sugarsync is great.

  4. qning says:

    Is anyone using Mega routinely and successfully? First it sucks. Second, no way a lawyer in the US should be using it for a business purpose. MAYBE for free storage of like your third redundant fully encrypted backup of last decade’s taxes.

    And I’m with Paul, this is a one page article. I understand there is something special about making users click click click on the page but I stopped at Mega.

  5. Here is a really stupid question. How do you measure how much storage you need? Do you look at how much of your hard drive is being used or do you just look at all your various client files? What is a quick and easy way to figure this out?

  6. JanetR says:

    You forgot to mention Copy.

    I was looking through another thread and someone mentioned “Copy” there, which is basically a dropbox alternative. I checked it out and I’m digging it. They give you 15gb
    free right away and I signed up through a referral from the guy’s post and got an extra 5gb for myself. So 20gb immediately. Also for every person you sign up they give you 5gb! That’s waaay better than 500mb w/ DB. Between the 6 email accounts my wife and I have we got our storage up to 50GB without even bugging anyone we know. And that’s FOREVER not for 2 years!

    Another thing I like is that they split the file size between the number of people using a shared folder. With DB each person has the full size of the shared folder. So basically with Copy if you have 2 people sharing a 20gb folder it’s only 10gb each. Or if it’s 4
    people then that’s 5gb each. Since we had setup 6 accounts already, and each of those accounts have 20gb, I setup a shared folder between all 6 accounts. So even though my wife and I will really only be using 2 of those accounts, the load will be split 6 ways. So we could theoretically store 150GB right now in that shared folder (50+20+20+20+20+20). Hopefully that made sense.

  7. Chuck says:

    Any reason Box is not on the list?

    • Sam Glover says:

      Box and Dropbox are effectively the same product from different companies. If you want Dropbox from a different company, try Box. If you want more security or more for your money, try the alternatives on this list.

  8. Walker says:

    Transporters from ConnectedData.com. One at work, one at home. One payment and done.

  9. J. C. says:

    No Onedrive?
    15gb + another 15gb if you enable auto upload from the mobile app. Apss across each platform. Integration with office online, office 2013 and office 365 products. 100gb for $1.99/month; 200gb for $3.99/month. Office 365 + 1tb for $9.99/month. A possible 5gb from referrals. Plus Microsoft is always doing deals- I currently have 100gb bonus (valid for 2yrs) just for using Bing. I’d think it tops the list for lawyers and readers of this site.

    • Sam Glover says:

      Sure, it’s an alternative. Not a very good one, in my opinion. I hate the way it handles shared folders, and I really hate the SharePoint-backed business version.

      But sure, if you’re into the whole Microsoft thing, go for it.

    • My first glance at OneDrive was positive as well. As a new Office 365 subscriber I thought we could stop paying Dropbox. But then I saw that OneDrive for Business doesn’t work on OS X. Ridiculous.

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