PROS / The backup speed is very fast.
CONS / You don't own your encryption key.
VERDICT / Dropbox Pro provides slightly above-average value with good performance, but the security features are more in line with a file-sharing service.
Dropbox is among the most recognizable brands in the online backup service industry because of its integration with over 100,000 apps for sharing and backing up files. Dropbox is more of a traditional file-syncing and storage service than a backup service, but that doesn't mean you can't use it to back up your important files. When you install the Dropbox desktop app, you install a sync folder connected to your online account. The pro plan includes 1TB of storage, which you can share between all of your computers. As such, the value is above average. The service performed well in our tests, posting the fastest backup speed.
In our online backup review, we evaluated the cost of the service to back up 1TB of storage at three levels: a large family with five devices, a small family with three devices and an individual with one device. We also tested the performance with backup and restore tests and ease-of-use evaluations. The best cloud backup services should provide high value with performance and usability.
With Dropbox Pro, you pay $99 per year for 1TB of storage, but only if you pay one year at a time. If you go month-to-month, the payment is $9.99, which means you pay close to $120 a year. One of the advantages of Dropbox is the ability to install the app onto all of your devices. As such, it received a B- for a large family, a C+ for a small family, and a B- for an individual. Overall, the value is just above average, even if you pay a year at a time. For comparison, the most valuable service in our review, IDrive, costs $59.50 a year for a 1-TB subscription.
In our backup tests, Dropbox Pro's average backup speed was impressive, receiving an A. For this test, we ran multiple backup sets at various times throughout the day and weekend, and Dropbox's average speed was the fastest in the tests. It recorded a time that suggests it could complete a 1TB backup in less than five days. This is more than twice as fast as the average speed. Unfortunately, the backup process received an average C grade for ease of use. While there are a few steps to backing up your data, access to settings and features is very limited because of the sync folder.
Dropbox Pro's average relative restore speed wasn't nearly as impressive, but it still received an above-average B- compared to other backup services on our lineup. The biggest downside to the restore performance is the ease of use, which received a D+ in our evaluation. You can't restore files directly from the desktop app, as it only uploads files to the servers. Instead, you have to log into the web portal to restore files, which adds many steps to the process. And much like the backup process, finding the settings and features associated with restoring files poses a significant learning curve.
The major flaw with Dropbox is the lack of a private encryption key, though this is largely because of the service's file-sharing priorities. While at rest on the servers, your files are encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption, which is industry standard. However, without a private encryption key, the service maintains the encryption keys. Private encryption keys mean that you're the only one who can view the files. This is why Dropbox doesn't provide the option because it limits your file-sharing capabilities. As such, this isn't the best cloud backup service if data privacy is your priority.
With Dropbox Pro, you get 1TB of storage to back up as many computers as you need. The service provides above-average value with exceptional backup performance. However, the restore speed was just above average, and the overall ease of use is below average. In addition, since file sharing is a priority with Dropbox, the service isn't ideal if you value data privacy.