Can anyone here recommend a good alternative to DropBox?

I run a small team of family members on a personal project. We have been storing data on DropBox. Unfortunately we keep running out of memory for storing documents & photographs on DropBox. (i.e. 2GB is not enough!)

- We need about 10GB of space (5GB would be okay if pushed).
- We have a near zero budget. i.e. We do not want to pay more than say $5/year (i.e. mobile phone app level of fees!)
- Many of the team (of 6) are not computer literate. So we need something highly reliable and intuitive for us to store share documents (e.g. spreadsheet)
- We also need to be able to open shared files when we are not on line.
- If possible it would be great to have some sort of basic "file locking" system so that we can see if one of us is online and has a file open. This would avoid at least some over-writing of each others work. It would need to show the ID of the person who has the file open.
- Only once we have come to trust the software only then would we be happy to pay a bit more - particularly if we start to use it for work activities.

Any recommendations?


PS. We were thinking of Box, Copy.com or Zoho Docs?

PPS. Two members of the team refuse to use either Google or Microsoft/OneDrive (because they say that those organisations are spying on us all, massively violating our privacy!).

You can pay DropBox a few extra bucks to add some capacity. That is the idea to get you started for free. Google, MS and Apple all do this. A totally free service will not survive on the long run.

You might want to have a look at BitTorrent Sync. It will sync data between computers without requiring a server in the cloud. Your data never appears anywhere but the source/target computers.

PPS. Two members of the team refuse to use either Google or Microsoft/OneDrive (because they say that those organisations are spying on us all, massively violating our privacy!).

well, so do all the others... It's an insanely silly thing to say. If you aren't paying for a product, you ARE the product. Those companies have to make money in some way, and selling your profile data to advertisers is one way for them to do that.
Now, AFAIK Microsoft doesn't do that at all. They're providing some things for free as a way to advertise their own products (hence the advertising for Microsoft products and services in hotmail and other MS related websites).
Google uses your data mainly to finetune their search results and targeted advertising. And of course those family memmbers of yours will happily browse the web, visiting reams of websites that all run Google analytics, Google ads, Google maps, Youtube, Google search options, Blogspot, Blogger, communicate with people using Gmail, all of which are run by Google.

A bigger concern I have with cloud services is guaranteed continuous access to my data. If I store it locally I have that under my own control. If I leave it to some 3rd party I have to trust them to not go out of business and for everyone else in the supply chain (from internet providers to people running core routers) to also remain in business and continue to provide me their services.
Again, you get what you pay for. Hence me not putting anything critical on my Dropbox account. It's a convenience for me, anything there I can do without easily (effectively, I use it only to shift data between computers, in lue of a NAS on my own private network to do that for me).

$5 a year isn't going to buy you anything, period. That's not even enough for a company to pay for the bandwidth and electricity bills to keep you supplied...
Dropbox will cost you $10 a month for a terabyte of storage. BUT you can sometimes get free extra storage space with them on top of the 2GB. I got 48GB free for 2 years for linking my Samsung tablet into my Dropbox account for example. You also get some free space for linking other accounts, referring friends, and things like that.

Not sure if these services have what you want, but I'll throw a few more suggestions in to the ring for your consideration:
ADrive (adrive.com), SpiderOak (spideroak.com), and My Shoebox (shoeboxapp.com) for photos.

AFAIK, these services are pretty basic: they provide storage of documents. I don't know if they have the sort of synching you want, if multiple people are working on the same document at the same time. But in that case, how would the service know which person's changes take priority over others? Perhaps you might also look into a service like GIT, that allows multiple people to work on a project or document, tracks changes, and then commits the desired changes to the Master document. And then you could also have the option of backing up on GitHub.

P.S. - On second reading, since some of your team are not very computer savy, perhaps you should ignore my Git/GitHub suggestion.

Copy - I've used it for a little while now and can't fault it.

It's an excellent site 15GB of FREE space, plus another 5GB for refferals! Includes sync, no file limits and 30 day history & recovery. As with dropbox, two users can share data between two accounts.

commented: I saw this thread and was just about to suggest this, Copy is an awesome! +0

Incidentally, the advantage of SpiderOak over DropBox is that encryption/decryption with SpiderOak is done at your computer whereas with DropBox it is done at the server meaning that with SpiderOak your files cannot be decrypted by the service provider based on a court order. Your files are more secure with SpiderOak.

The advantages of Bittorrent Sync are

  1. Your files are never on a server in the "cloud".
  2. You are not held hostage by the service provider changing the terms of service.
  3. Synching works faster the more computers you add to the sync.

Bittorrent Sync sounds a bit technical for our lot. It needs to be pretty much idiot proof!

Copy sounds suitably user-friendly - thanks.

But how well does Copy (AKA "Barracuda Copy", yes?) work in a collaboration scenario - i.e. where multiple user users are sharing the same files?

  • Is there any attempt by the system to flag up when one user is editing a file?

  • And what happens when one user over-writes another user's work accidentally?

I am particularly interested in the Free version but might upgrade eventually to the Pro version (although that is a massive financial jump for us... 6users x $5 x12 months x3 years ==> over $1000 just to share some data on what is not-for-profit family project !!)



Just a thought, are all family members on the same local network (inside the same firewall/attached to the same router)? If that's the case, why not just invest in a common drive with its own IP address that you can all access?

I can't do this until the end of the summer when I return home but perhaps I could set up a BitTorrent Sync on my home systems and write up a tutorial on the installation/maintenance. Would that be of any interest to you?

I think that would be of interest to an awful lot of people RJ.

Rev Jim
No we are all working remotely from each other.
Re BitTorrent Sync - does it include any attempt to be good at collaborative working. e.g. Warning users when other users are editing a file? And some sort of version control history for when things go wrong?


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I use SugarSync - (paid for - unfortunately not $5 - about $7/mo for 100Gb). it has the advantage of not being dependent on a particular folder on your device (like Dropbox). I can sync any folder on my PC and make the content available to any other device. Simple = worth every penny.

And some sort of version control history for when things go wrong?

There is an option that when selected will archive deleted/modified files in a sub-folder for 30 days before being deleted. There is no other versioning built in, however, it would be easy to add on some type of cooperative locking such as renaming a file in use like


which would indicate that user jim has "locked" a file for exclusive use. All other users would see that and know the intent, but the file would still be available for all to see. It could be done manually, or a small vb GUI could be easily written to handle it.

I'm basing all of this only on what I have read. I have not actually set up an instance to play with although I may even be able to try this at the cottage without worrying about using up my bandwidth, based on the fact that it uses the shortest path for syncing which would keep all of the traffic local.

I've already started work on the tutorial.


Yes the file renaming is logically sound. And it is what we do to stop people over-writing each other's work - WHEN WE REMEMBER, particularly if doing a lot of work on file...

HOWEVER in practise, particularly for quick edits, it simply doesn't happen! IN PRACTICE, it's too much hassle to rename a file, edit, save and rename it back again every single time you want to edit a file! It's just not realistic. And what happens is that we end up just taking the risk. And every now and then we get conflicts. DropBox creates conflict files and we go back in and painfully have to compair both versions side-by-side.

It works OK but there is a nagging doubt that DropBox has caused us to lose a bucket load of data. For this reason (plus the pathetically low 2GB that DB gives you for free) we are lookcing for something better than DropBox.

[PS Yes, yes I know DB gives an extra 500MB per referral but our team isn't computer savvy enough to bother with all that being as we need about 5 or 10GB in total]

OK. It took me 15 minutes to set up a BitTorrent Sync on two laptops. And that includes taking screen shots. I'm working on putting it all together in a tutorial. I should have something posted today or tomorrow.

I have completed a tutorial on BitTorrent Sync 2.0 which shows how to set up sync between two computers on the same network (the only configuration I can test at the moment). By the end of September I should be able to test a configuration between to separate networks (computers behind separate routers/firewalls).

The tutorial is currently awaiting editorial review. When it is released you will find it under

Hardware & Software

Part one of the tutorial can be found here.