PROS / It posted the fastest backup speed in our tests.
CONS / The app lacks a private encryption option.
VERDICT / For 1TB of storage shared between unlimited devices, Dropbox Pro provides above-average value with good performance, but the overall ease of use is subpar.
With over 500 million users around the world, Dropbox is one of the most used online data backup services in the industry. The app provides data-backup protection, file-sharing capabilities and device syncing. You can integrate your Dropbox account with 100,000 third-party apps, making it an extremely versatile app. The Pro plan includes 1TB of storage, which you can use with as many devices as you own. In addition, while the performance is good, the ease of use and security is subpar.
In our comparison of online data-backup services, we started by evaluating the cost of each service to back up 1TB of storage at three levels: a large family with five PCs, a small family with three PCs and an individual with one PC. Then we tested the backup and restore speeds and evaluated the ease of use for both processes. It's important that the best cloud backup services provide high value with performance and usability.
Dropbox Pro's 1-TB subscription costs $99 per year if you pay one year at a time. Otherwise, it costs $9.99 per month if you choose the month-to-month option, which equates to $120 a year. At the large-family level of our relative value analysis, Dropbox received a B+ because the cost per computer is less than $20 per year. For the small family, the service received a B- because the cost per computer is less than $35 per year. At the individual level of our evaluation, Dropbox received a B because it costs less than $100 per year. By comparison, the highest value in our review is $59.50 for 1TB and unlimited devices, which means the cost per computer is significantly lower at each level.
The most impressive aspect of Dropbox Pro is the backup speed, which received an A in our performance tests. After multiple tests performed at various times throughout the day and night, including weekends, the app recorded an average MB-per-minute speed that suggests it could back up 1TB in about 4.5 days. By comparison, the average calculated speed for 1TB in our tests was about 21 days. The app, however, received a C grade for ease of use. Since the backup process is performed completely within a sync folder, the process has relatively few steps, but there is no access to features or settings from the sync folder. A novice user unfamiliar with sync folders will find it confusing.
The restore performance didn't impress us like the backup performance. For relative speed, the app received a B-, which put it in the above-average spectrum, but not by much. The biggest disappointment with the restore process is the ease of use. If the backup process was average, the restore process was very difficult to use, receiving a D+ in our evaluation. The app doesn't allow you to restore files directly from it. Instead, you can only restore files by logging into your account through a web browser and downloading a ZIP file. We counted as many as 11 steps in the process.
Perhaps the biggest flaw with Dropbox Pro is the lack of a private encryption key, though the file-sharing purpose of the app explains the absence. While files are at rest on the servers, the data is protected with 256-bit AES encryption, but without the option to customize the encryption key, the service can scan and view your files. Instead, the service maintains the encryption keys. The reason for this is because private encryption makes it difficult to share and sync files, which is a significant priority with Dropbox.
With 1TB of storage that you can share on as many devices as you own, Dropbox Pro provides above-average value at each level of our cost evaluation. The backup speed was the fastest in our tests, and the restore speed was above average. However, the ease of use was either average or poor, and the security is lacking in comparison to the most secure data backup services.