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Dropbox Founder Wants To Build the Next Google

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the get-crackin dept.

Businesses 165

ColdWetDog writes "The Dropbox file storage and synchronization service has managed to attract 50 million users and $250 million in venture capital. The founder of Dropbox, Drew Houston, says he is determined to build the next Google or Apple, not to sell out to them. Even for a guy whose paper valuation is around $600 million, it seems like the best he could hope for is another Facebook-level company — file storage isn't that sexy. I wish him luck in his bid to remain independent. I'd rather see Dropbox remain fairly agnostic with regard to other Internet services."

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165 comments

Tough sell (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701944)

Dropbox has figured out an elegant solution to a vexing problem. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, people have more devices and more apps than ever before. How can they get access to the latest version of all their stuff — photos, music, videos, documents, spreadsheets — no matter what device they are using and no matter where they are?

Apple addressed this with the free iCloud, Google of course has its own cloud storage services, and even Microsoft has the free SkyDrive, so I'm confused as to why the article considers this a vexing problem waiting to be solved when it was pretty much the theme of 2011 for all the major platform vendors. Lots of venture capital doesn't mean something is going to take off--the lesson last year was the Color app, which got $41 million of first-round funding [venturebeat.com] in March only to immediately flop on release [reuters.com] months later.

Re:Tough sell (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701980)

Dropbox has been around for years thats why...noob

Re:Tough sell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38703420)

Dropbox is garbage. They don't offer much in the way of free space, their pricing scheme is a joke and they don't even support WebDAV.

Box [box.com] has them beat on every account. Hell, even Microsoft Skydrive is better if you just need some free space.

Re:Tough sell (5, Insightful)

tidepool (137349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701990)

They are all, somewhat, 'tied' to a company and a product line. Sure, many things are cross platform, but I'm sure to get complete smooth functionality, you should be using the respective product line.

A 3rd party that could make *everything* sync up, without any snafu's, and offer a solid consistent UI on any device, would easily be the best solution.

Storage and, more important, remote access, is at the tip of the ice-burg at the moment. I can't imagine where it will go from here, but it'll move and fast.

Re:Tough sell (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702028)

It is true that they are tied their individual platforms, but that could also be considered their primary advantage over DropBox. Everyone who buys an iPad automatically benefits from iCloud integration, for example.

Re:Tough sell (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702068)

It is true that they are tied their individual platforms, but that could also be considered their primary advantage over DropBox. Everyone who buys an iPad automatically benefits from iCloud integration, for example.

I don't want it tied to Apple's limited world view of what is good or bad. I don't want it tied to Microsoft's bizarre implementations. I don't want it tied to Google's manifold desire to sick advertisers on me.

I just want it to work. On OS X at home. On Windows at work. On Linux, BeOS, CP/M (well, I give that a pass) or whatever. The vendors all have an agenda which, so far, hasn't jibed well with mine.

Re:Tough sell (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702124)

But DropBox has an agenda too--they want to be the next Google. That means your files and information will become a product for the real customers: advertisers. You can never escape an agenda, and if the effort to avoid that agenda outweighs the convenience the agenda provides for you, then you're acting counterproductively against yourself.

Re:Tough sell (2)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702168)

You can't escape an agenda, but a company could be run that sold services directly to customers, with a contract forbidding advertising / any sale of personal data. Their agenda could be to make money by selling you a service and not selling you out.

I think when someone builds the next facebook and offers an ironclad contract forbidding any sale of personal data, I'd probably be willing to pay $5 or so per month for the service.

Re:Tough sell (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702352)

I think when someone builds the next facebook and offers an ironclad contract forbidding any sale of personal data, I'd probably be willing to pay $5 or so per month for the service.

Indeed - I'd pay to not have my data pimped around. I don't know what vendors' single-minded fixation with free+advertising is all about.

Re:Tough sell (3, Interesting)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702438)

why vendors obsession is in it is obvious. for every person like you who would rather give money than information, there are roughly 1,000 people who would gladly let everything about themselves leak out to the public rather then spend $5 a year. Every privacy fiasco done on facebook/google or any other site has had little to no impact on the number of people subscribing, and usually loses less than 1% of the current subscribers even for the big issues. Now look at how many people went into an extreme panic when the fake rumors of facebook charging money sent all of it's users into a mass panic. I would bet that if facebook charged say 15 a year, within 3 months they would become myspace and G+ would become facebook.

Re:Tough sell (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702486)

Because most of the internet wants free stuff. Sure, there is a small subset of the population who /really/ wants something enough they'd pay for it, but for the majority of people on the internet, free works.

Most people simply will not pay, they will go to a free site. The average internet user doesn't care about the advertisements, after all, that's what adblocking and hosts files are for.

Re:Tough sell (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702744)

You can't escape an agenda, but a company could be run that sold services directly to customers, with a contract forbidding advertising / any sale of personal data. Their agenda could be to make money by selling you a service and not selling you out.

Actually if the idea is to make money directly from its users, that's fine and dandy. Beyond that, any plans to sell my data or even the fact that that I have data is out of the box a non-starter for me.

The fact that Drop Box can break the encryption any time they want/need is pretty much a non-starter as far as I am concerned. The fact that they lied about it initially is another black mark. At least Google tells you right up front exactly what they can and will do with the content of your email.

SpiderOak [spideroak.com] promotes zero knowledge storage. They have no way to break the encryption and couldn't do so in response to a subpoena if they wanted to. Windows, Mac, Android, Linux. And their fees are half of what Drop Box wants. In addition it can keep iterations of your data if you wish, so you can roll back those changes in your spread sheet one by one.

I just don't see what Drop Box has to offer in regard the topic of this post, Without breaking its basic promise to keep your data private, they have nothing to sell other than space. You won't get to be of Apple's size or Google's omnipresence just supplying disk space that can be had by government agencies without even going for a warrant.

If they want to convince me, change their system to a zero knowledge system in which they can't hand over the keys to anyone because they don't have them. They need to pick up the tab from the mobile carriers for data syncing mobile devices. Trying to build a cloud storage empire that gets shared with police is not likely to be all that successful in the age of data caps.

a thumbs up: for SparkleShare/GIT free open-source (2)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704028)

Try the free open-source SparkleShare software and roll your your own cloud 100%. That would trump any cloud provider option if this is your concern, since all the disks and PCs are under your ownership and control. (Although you are correct in your technical arguments, for sure. I also like SpiderOak.)

SparkleShare is essentially a DropBox clone in terms of a GUI, which extends to recovering older versions with a right-click. It looks like DropBox, and it works like DropBox too. But it is just a scripted GIT environment. In fact if you already have a GIT Repo hosted on a server (or service) somewhere, SparkleShare is easily configured to wrk with it. Here's how you start from scratch, assuming you already have PGP keys shared with the server:

At the server, create a new, empty GIT repository:
git init --bare NEWREPOSITORY.git
At the workstation:

Normally, you might use something like the following commands to work with GIT. (these are not necessary if you use SparkleShare)

git clone ssh://user@example.com:port/home/user/NEWREPOSITORY.git
cd NEWREPOSITORY.git
git clone ssh://user@example.com:port/home/user/NEWREPOSITORY.git
The SparkleShare config:

Add Hosted Project...

Address:

ssh://user@example.com:port

Remote Path:

/home/user/NEWREPOSITORY.git

This document explains how to add a layer of encryption, (which also works to secure services like DropBox btw: https://github.com/hbons/SparkleShare/wiki/Encrypting-your-files-before-transfer [github.com]

In real-life, those directions aren't so hard are they? But let me tell you now in real-life, I formatted this nicely in html and slashdot has been torturing me for 20 minutes as I tried to submit it well. Plain text option worked best, eventually.

Re:a thumbs up: for SparkleShare/GIT free open-sou (1)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704036)

This is a corrected section of text, just to be clear. The last line has been corrected.

...Normally, you might use something like the following commands to work with GIT. (these are not necessary if you use SparkleShare)

git clone ssh://user@example.com:port/home/user/NEWREPOSITORY.git
cd NEWREPOSITORY.git
git pull -v

Re:Tough sell (3, Interesting)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702934)

I don't think that's what the founder meant when he said he wants to be the next Google. It looks like he means to establish a successful company that stands alone, rather than selling out to the highest bidder.

However, I think they do have a tough sell. As Steve Jobs put it, they don't have a product, they have a feature. Once could storage is built into every device you can buy, and that storage is not drop box, they cease to be relevant.

Re:Tough sell (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704056)

MS supports OSX and Windows with their syncing app. Asking vendors to support operating systems that have basically 0 market penetration like BeOS or CP/M is not only unreasonable, it's ludicrous. Why on earth would you want someone to waste programming cycles natively supporting an OS with 0 userbase vs. patching/adding functionality to the application for OS's people actually USE???

Re:Tough sell (2)

tidepool (137349) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702082)

Also a valid viewpoint. But, I imagine, unless you are someone who ONLY buys apple products (we know who we mean); Or only google products, etc it's still going to leave someone hanging.

Decentralized storage isn't so much about the storage, as it the universal aspect of connectivity: From any device, to any device, with zero 'hacks' to make it work. The general consumer wants it to 'just work', regardless of device. (To be truthful, so do all people, geeks and hackers alike; we're just willing to do something about it as opposed to simply walk away and view something else to purchase).

If they can truly pull that off without a hitch, they could be in one very solid position. It seems like each 'new feature' from apple involves a forced upgrade of hardware: Ie, a SMALL example is upgrading to iCloud sync on a computer with an ipad2 no longer allows you to fully sync all things from a 2nd gen iPod touch. (Not my hardware, just a stupid example). Options are buy a new iPod touch, or disable iCloud. You can't tell me this isn't on purpose, and it's the stuff that, if provided another option, consumers will only deal with so much before the eventual 'screw it'.

Re:Tough sell (2)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703510)

Yep and they have nice things like the ability to set limits on the sync, drop and forget syncing (I think iCloud has that too though I don't think google has (skyDrive?)).

Future: media sharing perhaps? I seem to recall a article somewhere talking about how their software is very efficient in the backend, built their own storage jbods, lots of deduplication etc. Say they can get an agreement to become a digital library for ebooks and music. Might be tough with Apple and Amazon in the mix but if they could get something together with the right holders they could offer a DRM layer on top of their existing sharing system. A platform agnostic iCloud that obeys media rights (both a good and a bad thing, but good business I think).

Re:Tough sell (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702072)

Yep. The barrier to entry for "dropbox" type applications is very low.

I have zero emotional investment in Dropbox. All the files in my dropbox folder are on my own hard disk. If a competitor offered me more disk space or whatever I could switch over in minutes.

Re:Tough sell (0)

Weezul (52464) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703240)

DropBox also offers zero security. Isn't like he couldn't offer anything. He just chooses not to. Fucker.

Re:Tough sell (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703592)

"I have zero emotional investment in Dropbox."

That ranks among the things that makes a rational man ask, "WTF?"

Alright, so maybe you would care to list some of the things that you do have an "emotional investment" in?

Re:Tough sell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38703872)

I couldn't. Dropbox is the only one who seems to be on all my mobile apps. And none of my mobile apps have a generic "enter your own settings" option.

Re:Tough sell (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702202)

Dropbox just resells Amazon's S3 storage service [dropbox.com] . They have a slicker interface, but the heavy lifting is all done by Amazon.

Re:Tough sell (4, Interesting)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702244)

"Dropbox just resells Amazon's S3 storage service. They have a slicker interface, but the heavy lifting is all done by Amazon."

Which is a very clever side of the Amazon's bussiness case.

Amazon surely bills a little bazillion to the likes of Dropbox or Netflix, so as long as the "new thing" happens to deal with them, the more successful they are, the more money ends up in Amazon's accounts.

But then, for each Netflix there are a thousand of wannabies that all will do is losing their shirts -but even them will move part of their money to Amazon's accounts.

So the end result is that Amazon wins always without taking the risks.

Very clever indeed.

Re:Tough sell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702550)

Amazon is still a wannabe Netflix.

Re:Tough sell (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702938)

This is nothing new. You know who got rich during the Western US gold rush? Those who sold the tools, not those prospecting.

Re:Tough sell (1)

yogijp (1343391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703098)

Which is why it is so costly, dropbox did not build the infrastructure. I was about to go with a paid plan from dropbox, but once I checked the price of Google Storage, dropbox seemed ridiculously expensive. Dropbox charges $10/month for 50 GB. Google charges $20/year for 80 GB (starts at $5 for 20 GB, goes all the way upto 16 TB). Seemed a no brainer to me. I use InSync (https://www.insynchq.com/) which gives the same sharing capabilities. I ended up getting 1 TB storage from Google.

Re:Tough sell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38703128)

Dropbox just resells Amazon's S3 storage service [dropbox.com] . They have a slicker interface, but the heavy lifting is all done by Amazon.

Not to mention they have the inherent security issues from Amazon as well. I guess this is OK as long as you don't mind having your data dumpster dived. If you don't hold a key, your data is exposed. Also the use of SSL(TLS) is susceptible to certificate compromise and man-in-the-middle attack that is currently plaguing the Internet. Asking the average user to use client-side encryption is out of the question, the average joe is not going to implement TrueCrypt. All of the encrypted data in one location is subject to brute force attack. Even Dropbox's blog states, "Dropbox manages encryption keys for you," sure - maybe you'd like them to watch your house and car keys too.

Re:Tough sell (4, Insightful)

Columcille (88542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702682)

iCloud != Dropbox. Apple was a lot closer with iDisk, though that was not as efficient and elegant as Dropbox. iCloud does not offer a solution anything like Dropbox.

On their way.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701974)

They've already somewhat emulated Google's whole get really big and popular then do some questionable stuff to tarnish your image to the point that while you retain most users, you lose a lot of the blind fanboyism and trust... thing.

And I largely agree with the summary.. the kind of service dropbox offers isn't in the whole "world changer" league. Unless they diversify I don't see them getting there with file storage.

Re:On their way.. (4, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702100)

We live in a digital age. Sending files to other people seems like the single most obvious use of the Internet, but it's a strangely unsolved problem...

Obligatory XKCD: https://www.xkcd.com/949/ [xkcd.com]

Re:On their way.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702450)

I believe we have a more important unsolved problem: Most consumer internet connections can only upload at under 1 Mbps. It's painful to send any large file at that rate.

Re:On their way.. (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702808)

Painful? Why?

Nobody's forcing you to sit there and count the bytes as they get sent. This sort of thing is why background tasks were invented.

Re:On their way.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702548)

It's a problem that has multiple solutions.

Re:On their way.. (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703228)

I think people have started working around the problem is the main reason.

Photos is the best example.. who "sends" anyone an image file any more? Everyone posts it on some service.

Documents are generally small enough for email.

Music and video: torrents, youtube.

It's only every once when someone has a large non-standard file to send you do you realize that there is actually no simple way for a non-geek to do it.

Re:On their way.. (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704380)

I see the funny, but it should be +5 insightful.
How do you get photo's from friends that are non-technical?

Most of them insist on burning CD's, making the handing out of images a bitch. Luckily most of my friends don't have a Facebook account, so no solution there and even then I would not be able to see it.

Even though all have a provider that gives them web space, a tool like lAlbum [jalbum.net] is still too hard to use. And this is just about photo's, not about sharing anything else.

file storage isnt... data mining is (3, Interesting)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701984)

having spiders crawling over the private data of tens of millions of people could be incredibly lucrative. not only to sell to businesses, but to sell to the various governments of the world who are interested in spying on people. every year the governments of earth spend billions collecting and gathering data on people to analyze 'security threats'.

now, that data is being collected for them. facebook is a good start, but it's mostly just trivial personal stuff. here, at a file storage site, we have the big fish. spreadsheets from companies, investigation reports from corporate analysts, stock trading information, debt trading information, etc etc etc.

My My My Music makes me so hard (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38701986)

Fuck dickbox and hush/spookmail, fuck them all, the only secure solution is NOT ONLINE and FUCK the FUCKING cloud. Fuck you Kinect you won't SPY in my living room, FUCK smartphones, a name which makes you feel good but means it's FUCKING YOU with its camera and microphones.

Fuck it all. Mod me down because you like dick and want to hide in your little corporate world of ass-grabbing.

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (3, Informative)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702016)

You're free to use Dropbox with Truecrypt you know. The initial upload will be huge if you make it use up all your space but syncing will be fast afterwards.

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702362)

Is that really true? I thought I remad somewhere that the smallest chunk DB would upload is 4 megs. There's no way that'd sync fast on DropBox.

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702518)

I use a 5GB TrueCrypt file synced via DropBox but it seems to create conflicted versions way too easily, despite switching machines at a low rate. I'd love to be able to see more details of the syncing process so that I can figure-out what's happening. For now, moving the frequently-changing information into a smaller 500MB file seems to have reduced the conflicts. Anyone have any tips on getting more information on the syncing process?

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (1)

mvmortier (1464377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702058)

Rofl! A little paranoid

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702188)

A little paranoid? He's not wrong.

Check out Kinects terms of service, and what they can do - by default, you agree to let them use pictures taken by the device of you using it in advertising. This is a CAMERA IN YOUR TV WATCHING YOU USE IT.

Smartphones... Were you around for the CarrierIQ debacle? Independent auditing of the code in these portable, always on, always connected devices just isn't going to happen, and even if there are people with morals inside the companies making these devices its not going to be hard for the bad guys to sneak a back door into millions of lines of code. And on a whole other level they're trying to sneak back doors into cryptographic standards(I forget the details, use google, this stuff is all out there)

Now we're being asked to rely on companies giving us access to great big machines in the sky - to trust that these companies aren't watching and recording every single action, that those actions aren't being analysed and aggregated, and most importantly of all - they won't ditch you like a hot potato and leave you high and dry when you find something so wrong you can't walk away from it. Look how all those companies ditched wikileaks.

Secret FISA requests? Indefinite detention? This guy isn't paranoid - thats the fucking scary thing.

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (1)

mvmortier (1464377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702410)

Oh well :D Just makes me glad I don't own any of these devices and I use DropBox only to share files with friends (just easier than explaining them how to set up their NAT rules and stuff).

Re:My My My Music makes me so hard (1)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702194)

The most relevant and insightful comment gets modded down as usual. Typical Slashdot.

Not even the best options in their own space (3, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38701994)

SpiderOak is a heck of a lot better (and unlike dropbox is actually secure). Of course with additional features it is a little more complex but that can be easily solved in time.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702136)

Why is at a 'heck of a lot better'? (Curious as to your thinking). From a brief perusal of the site, it seems to be similar to Dropbox albeit with end to end encryption. That's nice - I get around that by storing the data that I think needs to be encrypted in password protected sparsebundles (on OS X). Seems to work just fine. Much of the stuff I have on Dropbox could be shared openly on the Internet with the only downsides of confusing a whole bunch of people.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (4, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702232)

Much more flexibility regarding what is synced (I don't need a dropbox directory, I can pick and choose directories or even individual files on each machine to be synced).
Your solution to security is fine, except I want to be able to access my data on windows, linux, osx, android, and ios. It is also just easier to know everything is encrypted rather than needing to mentally track what should be as well as have to worry about opening sparsebundles (or opening truecrypt volumes, etc).

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702602)

Much more flexibility regarding what is synced (I don't need a dropbox directory, I can pick and choose directories or even individual files on each machine to be synced).

Ubuntu One does the same with a free 5GiB and I love that it's already built-in so I type my credentials into a new installation (every release cycle) and it's synchronising (on my Android phone too).

It is also just easier to know everything is encrypted rather than needing to mentally track what should be as well as have to worry about opening sparsebundles (or opening truecrypt volumes, etc).

I don't like that security principle. Why should everything be encrypted? Why should your family photos have the same security level as your plans to ______ or source code for project ________? They shouldn't require the same credentials to access and the latter shouldn't even be in "The Cloud®".

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702656)

Ubuntu One isn't available on OSX which knocks it out for me.

And I happen to like that security principle. Why shouldn't everything be encrypted? If I desire stronger encryption (or a different passphrase) for more sensitive stuff I can encryption them in a truecrypt or other container. But it isn't hurting anything to keep them encrypted and makes it more transparent. Except for performance (which isn't an issue here) what possible argument could there be for NOT encrypting everything?

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (2)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702858)

Because one of your secrets is how many secrets you have.

Who said "I don't like any of your secrets, but I will fight to the death for your right to have them" ?

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703180)

Thanks. Interesting. That would allow me to look at the sensitive data on Windows if I needed to.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702468)

Honest question: what is insecure about Dropbox?

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702542)

Unless you encrypt everything you store there they have access to it. It isn't encrypted on their servers in any way (unless you do it before you upload it, which few people bother to do.)

That being said, I use it and don't especially worry. I just don't use it for anything valuable without encrypting it first. Most of what I do use it for is basically free stuff or text files for games I play that no one would be interested in. Hell, I'm barely interested and I created it!

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (3, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702614)

They don't use client side encryption, and can decrypt your data on their side if they so choose. Almost a year or so ago, they had a couple of hours where (due to a botched code deployment on their side) anyone could log into any dropbox account using any password. The fact that they CAN decrypt your data (in addition to apparently having very bad testing procedures internally) means that someday they may decide to follow Google and Facebook's model and troll it for information for targeted advertising, selling to whomever, etc.

They claim their employees need to be able to have access to your unencrypted data to comply with government regulations but this does not pass the smell test at all. SpiderOak and Wuala both use client side encryption and do not have access to your data.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702954)

Ok, so the reason Dropbox doesn't do encryption? It would break their model. They leverage the fact that they only need to store a file once across their entire platform (AWS S3), but can "charge" multiple people for that space utilization. Encryption would break this de-duplication ability, and hence cost Dropbox more money in S3 storage costs.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703064)

I would understand that better if Dropbox were not twice as expensive as other comprable services that DO client side encryption.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703106)

It's the S3. Other people setup there own storage and data centers, whereas Dropbox is always reselling Amazon.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (2)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703192)

THIS. Backblaze? Their own datacenter (well, a datacenter in SF where they built their own gear). SpiderOak (and Nimbus.Io, a subsidiary about to do S3-style storage with higher latency but to be used for archival purposes)? Their own datacenter. Apple? Google? Of course, their own datacenters.

S3 is GREAT to prototype your concept. But once you start to actually *use* it and scale out wildly? Not so much (from a cost perspective; from the tech side, it works very well).

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702960)

I've tried SpiderOak a couple of times because the client-side encryption is a massive selling feature.

However, the interface is convoluted, to say the least. It's frustrating to have this massively complicated application to just synchronize a directory, when Dropbox, for the most part, doesn't have an interface at all. I want to point SpiderOak at a directory and forget about it. Unfortunately, I can't. And after several weeks of worry (and several lost files), I always end up back at Dropbox.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703044)

I didn't have that experience at all, it was just pointing it to a directory (or four) to back up and forget about it. Where it gets complicated is syncing across machines since ou basically have to define a link (this directory on machine A links to this directory on machine B). Without doing that you are just backing up to the cloud (which is also nice, as that is one of my primary uses of it and I didn't like that dropbox until recently forced you to have all files stored on all computers in your "cloud").

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703122)

I think that's a great a feature though - if you use a couple of different machines with different platforms, being able to map what goes where would be super-handy.

Re:Not even the best options in their own space (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703706)

SpiderOak is a heck of a lot better

Where DB has pulled away from the pack is integration. Virtually every iOS app that supports cloud-based storage supports DB. Not nearly as many support SugarSync, Spideroak, etc. Phones are one example - there are certainly others.

SipderOak vs Jungle Disk (1)

glodime (1015179) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704160)

I've been evaluating different secure backup and Sync and sharing options. I've been intrigued by SipderOak and Jungle Disk services. Have you and opinion about how they compare?

"file storage isn't that sexy." (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702066)

Almost as boring as Web searching, in fact.

Re:"file storage isn't that sexy." (2)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702142)

I don't really get that comparison. Search is far more sexy because it parses the content of the web and the information people are genuinely interested in.

Re:"file storage isn't that sexy." (3, Interesting)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702268)

As I recall, google actually had a hard time getting investors early on because no one thought there was any more money in search. It was seen as a mundane, solved problem.

Re:"file storage isn't that sexy." (2)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703104)

As I recall, google actually had a hard time getting investors early on because no one thought there was any more money in search.

That was probably correct. After all, they're not selling search, they're selling advertisement spots.

Re:"file storage isn't that sexy." (0)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702722)

"File storage" may not be sexy, but "social cloud file storage" is.

No chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702120)

Dropbox has no future in personal cloud storage with OS makers addressing these features in house. One look at their forum which once bustled with communal good will and it is obvious that they have abandoned the home user for more lucrative team accounts.At $125 per user per year, it's a much more viable business model. Although I suspect it won't be long before another company steps in to provide cheaper licences in return for host your own storage solutions.

Just fix the DropBox client already! (1)

jomcty (806483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702156)

I would settle for him to just fix the Window's DropBox client so that when I upgrade it, it installs in either one centralized directory or updates to client installed in my profile instead of another user's profile.

File Storage isn't sexy? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702262)

Tell that to the guy I just got done trying to help that lost 10 years worth of writing because he had never though to back it up ;)

Business model? (4, Interesting)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702264)

I'm a Wuala user myself, so perhaps I've overlooked something - but how does Dropbox hope to earn money? By selling additional disk space or turning the free accounts into paid ones once people begin to rely on them?

Re:Business model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702424)

By data mining... just like any other web 3.0 company.

Re:Business model? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702544)

It looks like they are using the shareware model. Give the home user just enough (2gb, right?) to make it attractive, and they are in the door. Offer higher priced services for the business user. Its pricing looks to be a slam dunk for the small business who needs more than a USB drive hanging off of a desktop, but can't afford to develop an in-house solution. You can have 2tb of space for 10 users for $1350 a year. Always backed up, version controlled, available anywhere. Very difficult to get even close to that (with access anywhere, mind you) in house. You'd probably pay the employee setting up and maintaining it that much (2-5% of one employee's time? Very likely.), and that's before you buy the hardware.

Re:Business model? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702962)

Only 4% of Dropbox users pay for their service, and Dropbox is already highly profitable. I would take that almost as a guarantee that storage prices for Dropbox-like services will be driven down if they're *that* profitable with so few paying clients.

Re:Business model? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703144)

And checking Amazon's S3 pricing shows that it seems to be impossible for them to make money if they are using S3 for backend. How the hell are they doing it?

Re:Business model? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703210)

Deduplication and chunking. They break files into 2MB chunks and then shove those chunks into S3. How many unique chunks does it take to represent all of the data they're syncing? Not sure, but the math shouldn't be too hard to do if so inclined.

Example: Grab a very popular torrented file; throw it in your Dropbox directory (make sure its a big file, 500MB+). Watch how it goes from hashing to synced in under 5-10 seconds. Dropbox hashed it, notes it already has a copy, and tells your box not to sync it up ("already have a copy brah!"). This is the beauty of their business model. The curse? Anyone can do what Dropbox does; it is not magic, it just takes the resources and time to do it.

Re:Business model? (1)

kcitren (72383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703840)

How many unique chunks does it take to represent all of the data they're syncing

2MB = ~ 2^2048000 possibly combinations, which is a pretty huge fucking number of unique chunks.

Re:Business model? (2)

amaiman (103647) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703942)

They removed that feature quite a while ago (the 5-10 second "upload" because the file hash matched another user)...People found a way to game the system to get files they didn't already have (by just distributing the hashes for popular files), so Dropbox disabled the feature (they promised it would return, but it never did and they no longer answer support questions about it). They still do de-duplication internally, though, so that's how they can afford the storage; there's just no benefit for the end-users anymore as far as upload times (the extra uploads to them don't cost anything since Amazon EC2 and S3 don't charge for incoming bandwidth, so they can hash the file on their end before storing a redundant copy.)

Re:Business model? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704004)

My understanding was that they still did only hashing if they had the file already, and would pick random bytes of the file to hash to ensure it *really* was the file they have in their backend storage. I'll have to test tonight with a download.

Re:Business model? (1)

gnapster (1401889) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702594)

Never heard of Wuala before, thanks.

I am incredibly amused by the fact that the introductory video shows backup to the Wuala servers and Wuala cloud as if they are two separate places, and storing in both places is what makes the storage redundant. :c)

Re:Business model? (1)

am 2k (217885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703096)

I'm a Wuala user myself, so perhaps I've overlooked something - but how does Dropbox hope to earn money? By selling additional disk space or turning the free accounts into paid ones once people begin to rely on them?

As far as I've heard, they're already in the black by selling additional disk space.

You want freedom? I'll give ya fuckin freedom! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38702416)

Tails (LiveCD) is crap, and I'm being nice here. Bloated, contains HAMRADIO and PACKET RADIO modules which no one in their right mind would use on a distro aimed at Tor use, I don't even believe 1% of Linux users use them, yet they're generated right there in the directories. Google about ham radio / packet radio modules and their use over wireless devices, ethernet, and sound cards, there's some serious shady actions going on I can tell you from my observations with different distributions and these driver modules being rolled into them on many distributions of Linux.

The first agenda on your boot-to-Linux distribution is to check for these likely SPOOK friendly modules, generated in these two directories on Ubuntu, Debian, and some other distributions. First, DELETE all of your kernel headers and compiling tools so the SPOOKS can't reload them, install ARPWATCH and watch for ARP and DNS poisoning.

Now look for these modules and DELETE THEM with sudo or su depending on your distro: (kernelversion below should be replaced by your kernel version, you can just hit TAB once you're in /lib/modules since there should only be one kernel on your drive) /lib/modules/kernelversion/kernel/net
^ in that directory if you don't use bluetooth, delete everything in bluetooth dir
^ while you're there, locate the following directories and delete the contents:
      directory names: can, ax25, x25, rose, netrom, ipx, appletalk
      delete the subdirectories, too

run the killall command with sudo to stop bluetoothd and the bluetooth applet if you don't use them (I wouldn't!), and check lsmod | grep bluetooth, it's running and you should disable it, so when you type sudo rmmod bluetooth it'll say two other processes are using it, rmmod both of them, one of them is rfcomm, then remove bluetooth.

now venture into: /lib/modules/kernelversion/kernel/drivers/net
^ in this directory, if you don't use bluetooth, delete everything in bluetooth dir
^ locate the following directories and delete the contents:
      directory names: can, ax25, x25, rose, netrom, ipx, appletalk

ALSO: in one of the above top dirs, you'll find a HAMRADIO directory, delete everything inside. Some of these modules are blacklisted in a blacklist rare conf file, but this DOES NOT prevent them from being loaded, especially by SPOOKS/hacker slime.

If you're on a LiveCD install, don't bother removing them it's futile because the CD itself contains the headers and modules which the BACKDOOR BANDITS which control the airwaves can REINSTALL.

To get information on these modules, type modinfo and the module name, for example, you're in an ax25 directory, type modinfo ax25 and it will tell you more about the module, but many modules don't say anything, which leads me to believe there's more PACKET RADIO/HAMRADIO spyware located within these modules apart from the ones I've mentioned. There's no earthly good reason for these modules to exist, nor kernel headers, on a Linux distro vanilla install, ESPECIALLY NOT ON TAILS which should be geared towards the support of PRIVACY.

And why does my cd-rom drive light flash like crazy when I'm sitting at the Tails desktop with no programs running aside from the default? Why is it so bloated, why so many applications? LESS IS MORE! I recommend everyone NOT use Tails. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw CUPS daemon was loaded, on a security distro LiveCD? Pllllease...

People, if you want to make a CD geared towards privacy, cut down the apps to only those required, let the users decide if they want to add potentially buggy packages which may affect their privacy and security and for Buddha's sake, GET RID OF THE HAM RADIO/PACKET RADIO modules! Do you REALLY believe anyone is using any of these modules with Tor? If you do I have a bag of magic beans to tell you. And what the heck is CAN? A protocol for BANKS? You can't tell me this is something you need on such a CD.

You folks need to strip your distro down to the bare basics and start over, what you have, in my opinion, is a bloated messy .iso of junk, thrown together without serious thought to privacy and security of end users, with Tor just happening to be included.

Keep tabs on the activity of your system with snapshots and a simple command:

sudo find /usr/bin -mtime -60

(60 equals 60 minutes)

Turn your system on, boot from Tails or any other LiveCD and wait for a day, maybe two, maybe three, and issue that command to discover files having been modified and secured against virus scanning with various tools. It's a field day for LiveCDs which include kernel headers, ham/packet radio modules, and applications which are likely to contain bugs.

When you discuss this on-line, which I see little discussion of, or any serious security matter involving Linux, the SPOOKS, shills, or the unintelligent will label you a conspiracy nut, ask you why are you so paranoid, lock the thread, shuffle the thread (sock puppet users posting quickly to other threads so move yours down to become buried and unnoticed), move the thread (usually to an area of the board which is neglected by the public or where the public has no read/write access to threads), and/or delete your user account and your posts.

WAKE UP!

Google already sells storage (1)

TeriZip (2553120) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702442)

You can buy Google storage for a fraction of the price of Dropbox and use a sync client like Syncdocs. There's no real customer lock-in in this space, so its real easy to switch if a competitor offers more space.

Where's in-browser editing? (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38702968)

I just wanna be able to log into my Dropbox from a browser on whatever random PC is available (usually one at work), edit my plain-text files from within the browser, and be done. None of this having to download them, edit them, and upload them again goofiness.

Why is this so easy for others (eg. Google Docs) but Dropbox can't pull it off?

Other than this glaring annoyance, I do enjoy Dropbox's convenience. Mostly.

what about the password/security issues w Dropbox (4, Insightful)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703526)

Any journalist worth his salt would have immediately responded to Mr. Houston, "If you want to be big like Google, you can't leave all your users' files unprotected for a day because one of your staff turned off the passwords."

If you want to play with the big boys, you need to wear big boy pants.

Christ I hope he doesn't - epic failures (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38703980)

Since they had the epic failure of producing something even less secure than the FTP of twenty years ago I really hope they don't pollute any more of the net until they get their act together. There's plenty of other solutions that actually work but spent their money on function instead of an massive and expensive PR blitz to sell a product that is, to be quite frank, very well polished shit. It's only that polish that gives them a service better than any ISP on the planet can provide.
So here's my advice, if you are thinking of using DropBox for anything you don't want to see on the front page of the local paper then use Google to search for something just as easy to use but far more secure than browsable without an username or password (now that was a truly epic failure).

I don't understand the business model (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704070)

Admittedly I've never used the product because I have multiple, free 8GB email accounts and I just right-click and choose "encrypt and email" from the drop-down list. But I*1 can't see how they can make real money - seems like they'd need a much larger percentage of paying users, and even then the margins look small.

Mostly I'd be thinking the business would die overnight if a certain large platform agnostic company offered a free version. Or do they have some strategy stronger than public relations (like patents) to ensure long term viability?/p>

*1 But then, I wouldn't invest in Facebook on long-term basis either.

misconception (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38704324)

> file storage isn't that sexy.

That is one of the biggest misconceptions i heard. Providing completely scalable, secure, transparently controlled, distributed, flexibly archived, fast, and reliable file storage in a *cheap* via the net *is sexy*.

However, i think it will be implemented by others and there will be a lot of competition.

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