File sharing and syncing: why we love Dropbox and not OneDrive

 Picture of a cloud linked to buildings with digital data streams


We signed up for Microsoft Office 365 attracted in part by the massive amounts of free cloud storage it offers in OneDrive – 1TB for each of five users. ‘Get to your files and photos from anywhere, on any device.’ That’s how Microsoft bills OneDrive.

Great, we thought – finally, somewhere we can share and sync any number of files quickly and easily between our desktops and laptops wherever we are.

We already had our free Dropbox allocation but weren’t keen to pay for extra space – why would we, when you get up to 5TB free with OneDrive?

Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Well, the reality was different.

This blog post is about why we gave up with OneDrive for file sharing and syncing after tearing our hair out trying to get it to what we wanted it to do and breathed a massive sigh of relief when we returned to the Dropbox fold.

OneDrive Woes

First off, I couldn’t get OneDrive to work properly at all in Finder on my iMac – no syncing, no indication of sync status – pretty useless, in other words. There is a way of showing the blue and green OneDrive sync status badges in Finder, but guess what? It didn’t work, despite help on a tech forum.

So I tried using OneDrive through Windows Explorer in the virtual Windows environment on my Mac. Which was no better.

Slow to sync

In fact, syncing to OneDrive was slow from all our devices: files Lawrence saved to OneDrive wouldn’t appear on my laptop for ages and I often ended up downloading them from the OneDrive cloud through a browser.

And specifying which files to sync was also a joke. To get syncing going I sometimes had to unlink a device from OneDrive then re-link it, which meant that I then had to go through the list of files and specify which, out of the entire contents of my Documents and Photos folders, I wanted to sync. Once you’ve done that 3-4 times you lose the will to live. It doesn’t save your choices!


Finally, Lawrence suggested giving Dropbox another go.

What a difference! Files and new folders sync to all your devices instantly – and by that I mean almost before you’ve finished naming the new folder. So I can rely on the fact that the latest version of that file I created on the Mac will appear on my laptop the moment I open it, and not half an hour later or only through a browser. And with Dropbox you also get a nice neat list of recently synced files when you right-click the tray icon.

Small is beautiful

Beyond your free allocation, Dropbox isn’t the cheapest cloud storage (£7.99 a month or £79 a year), but you know what? Having limited free space actually makes you housekeep your files and folders much better and makes you declutter. With nTB of free space, you tend to just chuck everything at it and leave it there. Small really is beautiful.

Free space

Plus you can earn up to 16GB free space by referring others – 500 MB for every new Dropbox user you bring on board. So if you’re thinking of trying Dropbox, let us know so that we can refer you!

Thank you, Dropbox, for bringing sanity back into my life

Photo by Chris Potter



2 responses to “File sharing and syncing: why we love Dropbox and not OneDrive”

  1. Sally Hill says:

    Hi there Kari,
    Thanks for this. Good to know, though as a fellow Mac user I tend to avoid Microsoft if I can, and have not considered OneDrive. I love Dropbox and agree that it works brilliantly. I have all my working files in Dropbox and as long as the internet is working OK I can access everything instantly from my laptop. And from any university computer on my teaching days. I have a paid Pro account for USD100 a year which gives me 1TB storage. I only use a fraction of it (currently 16GB) but being somewhat of a digital hoarder I personally like the fact that I don’t have to throw anything away. I have recently discovered that you don’t have to sync everything, so you can keep some folders in the cloud only and others syncing between devices. Useful for larger files like photos.

    • Kari Koonin says:

      We’re just so impressed with the speed of Dropbox compared with OneDrive. We have kept all our photos on OneDrive as we don’t need to access those often. But it does tend to get confusing when you start using different clouds for different things…

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