4 Best Free Dropbox Alternatives for File Sharing

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Dropbox is a top-rated file sharing platform, with a free version. However, it might not meet everyone’s diverse needs. Check out these free Dropbox alternatives.

header image shows icons representing various file types in cardboard boxes

Gone are the days when businesses relied on hard drives to store files and users had to plug in a thumb drive to move files from the office laptop to the home computer.

Today, we expect our files to be available on all our devices, with the latest version synced automatically. We also expect to be able to share files with a couple of clicks and have multiple people work together on a single file.

This has been made possible by the likes of file sharing software such as Dropbox, which offers free and paid file storage services. The platform currently has over 500 million users, of which only 13.2 million are paying users.

For the non-paying majority using Dropbox’s Basic (free) version, one of the biggest challenges, ironically, is space. Dropbox Basic offers a measly 2GB of free storage. It also caps the number of devices you can sync to three and does not offer full text search, shared link controls, or viewer history.

With that in mind, here are the four best free Dropbox alternatives for you to explore, all with at least 5GB of storage.

4 Best Dropbox alternatives for file sharing

chart comparing the 4 best Dropbox alternatives for file sharing

To be shortlisted, products have to offer at least 5GB of free storage and have received 100 user reviews on Capterra’s software directory in the past two years. See the full selection criteria here.

Accordingly, we narrowed down our list of free Dropbox alternatives to the following four providers (arranged alphabetically):

1. Box

Dashboard view in Box

Dashboard view in Box (Source)

Box is a cloud-based file storage and sharing platform that is quite similar to Dropbox in its look and feel, as well as functionality. Both of them let you drag and drop files into the cloud and invite others to view, edit, and upload files to folders.

Some of the platform’s highlights include:

  • View over 120 types of files, including Word, Excel, PDF, AI, EPS, PSD, and photos without downloading.
  • Document and share ideas, discussions, and to-do lists with BoxNotes—a collaboration tool similar to Dropbox Paper.
  • Control access to determine who can view and/or edit your documents.
  • Integrate with over 1,400 third-party applications, including Microsoft Office 365, Google Suite, Slack, Salesforce, and DocuSign.

Pros

Cons

Ease of use and integration with multiple third-party tools. Initial learning curve can be difficult.
Sync between mobile app and desktop are almost instant. Limited editing and creating functionality built into the platform.

How much storage does Box offer?

The free version of Box offers 10GB storage. But there’s a 250MB limit on the size of individual files that can be uploaded.

2. Google Drive

MyDrive in Google Drive

MyDrive in Google Drive (Source)

If there’s one free Dropbox alternative that you’ve probably heard of, it’s Google Drive. Google offers this free file storage and sharing cloud to its 1.5 billion Gmail users. So, if you already have a Gmail or Google account, this is the obvious cloud storage option to go with.

Some of the platform’s highlights include:

  • Connect with 100+ Drive Apps, including Slack, Airtable, Freshdesk, and Zipbooks.
  • Save files directly to the cloud from email using the “Save to GoogleDrive” icon in Gmail.
  • Find files quicker with the platform’s full-text and image search features.
  • Use the “work offline” mode to work on files while off the Internet. The files get automatically synced to the cloud as soon as you go online.

Pros

Cons

Ability to access, edit, and save documents on the go. On rare occasions, uploads and downloads can be slow.
Ability to move files quickly within the interface. Files and folders are prone to becoming disorganized when used by multiple people.

How much storage does Google Drive offer?

Google Drive offers a whopping 15GB of free storage. However, the catch is that the storage is shared between Gmail, MyDrive, and Google Photos (storage for low-resolution photos is unlimited and not included in this 15GB).

3. OneDrive

OneDrive synched with Desktop Folders

OneDrive synced with desktop folders (Source)

OneDrive is a file storage platform offered by Microsoft. Just like Gmail users have access to Google Drive, OneDrive comes built-in with Windows 10. So, if you’re one of the 700 million Windows 10 users, you don’t even have to think of OneDrive as an additional service to sign up for.

Some of the platform’s highlights include:

  • Auto-sync files—any files you save on your computer will get automatically uploaded to the cloud.
  • Search files stored on the cloud via your browser. Also use the “files on demand” feature to download files to use when you’re not online.
  • Control access to your files, share them with users via a link, and control what they can do with the files.
  • Search the full text of files (not just filenames), with the “search and discover” feature.
  • Automatically upload photos and videos from connected devices.

Pros

Cons

Easy to set up and use. Autosave on files doesn’t work without an internet connection and you have to remember to manually save open files in case of lost connection.
Android app and browser access make cross-platform use effortless. Setting auto-sync on Macs can be complicated.

How much storage does OneDrive offer?

OneDrive gives you 5GB of free storage with a Microsoft account. If you have a Microsoft Office 365 Home account, you get 1TB storage on OneDrive for up to six users.

4. Zoho Docs

File sync online and offline in Zoho Docs

File sync online and offline in Zoho Docs (Source)

Zoho is usually recognized for its CRM software and invoicing software. However, it also has a not-so-widely-known file storage and sharing platform Zoho Docs, which is a viable Dropbox alternative.

Zoho Docs can be downloaded as a desktop app and from there it functions like OneDrive. It supports file types such as documents, presentations, spreadsheets, audio, and video. However, it doesn’t have the capability to host industry-specific file types, such as AutoCAD (.dxf), Photoshop (.psd), or Microsoft Project (.mpp).

Some of the platform’s highlights include:

  • Use the built-in document editors—Writer, Sheet, and Show—to create and edit documents online.
  • View as many as 25 iterations of a document in version history.
  • Find information with full-text search.
  • Control who accesses which files and if they can view/edit them.

Pros

Cons

Real-time collaboration between multiple users. User interface can sometimes be slow to respond.
Preview files in the cloud, without the need to download. To share files with external users who do not use Zoho Docs, users need to convert files to popular formats such as MS Office or Google Suite files.

How much storage does Zoho Docs offer?

The platform offers 5GB of free storage per user, and supports up to 25 users. However, the combined free storage caps at 25GB.

Next steps

Before choosing to implement Dropbox, we recommend exploring these free Dropbox alternatives for your business. You can also check out user reviews on our website for better insight into how users experience these solutions.
Read user reviews for:

You can also compare other file sharing solutions on Capterra.

Selection criteria:

  • Storage: While Dropbox Basic offers only 2GB of free storage, in our research we discovered that a lot of Dropbox competitors offer anywhere from 5GB to 15GB storage in their free plans. For this list, we included products that offer at least 5GB of free storage.
  • Security and privacy protocols: Dropbox uses 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to protect stored data, and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)/Transport Layer Security (TLS) to protect data during transfer. Both of those are widely used security protocols. Dropbox also has measures in place to protect user privacy, as well as detect any suspicious account activity, phishing, and malware. For this guide, we considered options that have similar protocols to maintain security and privacy of user data.
  • Mobile apps: Dropbox offers both Android and iOS mobile apps. For this guide, we included options that offer a mobile app for at least one of the two platforms.

In addition to these qualifications, we checked for products that received over 100 reviews over the last two years.

Note: Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by Capterra or its affiliates.

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About the Author

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Rupal Bhandari

Rupal Bhandari is a specialist analyst covering Sales and Account Management markets. She received her Masters degree from the University of Delhi, India, and has created content for some of the world's leading technology products and companies.

Comments

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Have you should check out SMAC Cloud – https://www.smaccloud.com/
They have a free plan that gives 10GB Free Space

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You should update your article – Hubic stops development, new account registrations and most probably will shut down for good – http://www.onlinecloudbackups.net/hubic-stops-developing-and-accepting-new-registrations-what-is-the-best-alternative/

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Great article.

However, we also need to consider user agreements and data security in relation to the vendor.

Currently Google, MS, Apple cloud solutions all include clauses providing them royalty free licenses to use and modify any content stored or sent via their cloud services. In MS case this includes all the enterprise solutions (i.e. 300+ user options) unless they are subject to an individual Enterprise Agreement (which must be negotiated separately with the aid of a lawyer). This is not at first apparent, especially when explicit statements are made that you retain ownership and control of your data. However, the clauses can be buried in unrelated sections, sandwiched between unrelated sentences, or among multiple EULA and ToS that do not at first appear specific to the service you are buying. I have found this to be the case after investigating the written agreements over the last several months and contacting both MS and Google directly to clarify their position.

This is highly relevant to any project work involving IP or customer IP.

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Hey! 🙂 I am working on gifting a Free CD of my Music and needed a sharing platform where the audience can download MP3 files. Thank you for your article, I’m going to try out Box first!

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Thank you for all the tips! I would like to recommend you also MyAirBridge (www.myairbridge.com). With this online service I can send up to 20 GB for free, without any registration and with the highest possible encryption during the transfer. If I want to send more, have better speed or own storage, I can purchase one of their affordable plans.

[…] You can upload and share files, create docs and spreadsheets, use a huge number of tools and extensions, communicate with your team, and more. And it is all free up to 200 GB. You can find more alternatives here. […]

[…] You can upload and share files, create docs and spreadsheets, use a huge number of tools and extensions, communicate with your team, and more. And it is all free up to 200 GB. You can find more alternatives here. […]

[…] You can upload and share files, create docs and spreadsheets, use a huge number of tools and extensions, communicate with your team, and more. And it is all free up to 200 GB. You can find more alternativeshere. […]

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Hi Rachel!

I was very impressed at the considerations given to your article’s choices. All of the parameters you chose were on point for the SOHO crowd. It makes me want to try all of these free options! Having a personally-operated cloud is very convenient and keeps one’s data in-house while having a hosted cloud helps keep files safe from data loss: both options have their major upsides.

I was also happy to see one of the vendors get into the conversation. It shows someone is listening and trying to improve their audience and exposure. I prefer not to leave my eggs in one basket, so using several cloud sources for irreplaceable data just makes sense.

For business and work-related tasks, I do consider what these services can offer aside from the basics. One thing I was researching myself was suing the cloud as a web host alternative. I am looking more at the the static website side of things since I don’t think these services want to go all out on web and database hosting features. I do some casual web-coding, so of course ‘testing’ such features out makes these services a little more fun and potentially functional. Since G-Suite, as Google has dubbed their Google Docs service, has web site generation built-in that’s ready to go, it’s possible that the likes of Zoho Docs and maybe others would also allow either simple web hosting or even site creation.

Again, thank you so much for showing the world some nice solid cloud choices, especially a few I never knew of!

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Seems like you forgot 2FA under security in Nextcloud. 😉

/VM developer

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Hi Rachel!

Thanks for the reply, it is nice to get the background on the choices made. You’re right that it is the comparison with Seafile that was most surprising, especially as you noted how it was easier to use.

We actually have quite an audience in small/medium businesses through many of our providers. More than 2/3rd of them target small businesses and quite successfully so from what I can tell. I don’t track it very closely but a few I talk to occasionally have thousands of users…

I admit this is rather hard to see – unlike the hosted/proprietary solutions, we simply offer code and let others do their thing with it. That tends to result in wide-casting, so to say, giving less clarity when it comes to target users.

You’re right in your point about security (and privacy), though, even those who pick a provider do so because they trust that (local) company over a much larger, far-away online business.

But I think the biggest thing right now is the move that is happening towards collaboration, think Office 365. Receiving a file without context is pointless, and being able to go one step further and actually get stuff done in the same platform you use to share files is becoming very important. We see this need especially from small businesses and freelancers, who look for a single platform for file sync & share/calendar&contact/document editing. Essentially… a private cloud 😉

I notice most options you give above offer little or none of this, with the notable exception for Box which works with Microsoft on document editing. And Dropbox is also moving in the direction of collaboration, adding functionality all the time and also working with Microsoft.

What I’m saying is – file sync & share is so 2010, where’s the collaboration? 😉

Cheers and thanks,
Jos

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Hey Jos, thank you for your thoughtful response to the free Dropbox alternatives article.

I actually went back and forth quite a bit on Nextcloud 11, and even escalated the question of whether or not to include you folks to my editor while writing this piece.

The heuristic that we ultimately agreed on is that the small or mid-sized business, freelancer, or entrepreneur who ends up using this article to select a Dropbox competitor probably not only doesn’t have a background in IT, but also doesn’t have a readily accessible IT department or support system. When using Dropbox, users can “set up and go” without any coding background whatsoever. That modifier for this piece ended up knocking out other free solutions like DatAnywhere, Syncthing, and Nextcloud 11.

When researching Nextcloud, I found that you folks attract three types of users: those who are highly security minded, those who want huge scalability potential, and those who are fans of other open-source projects, like Collabora Online. Because I found those three types of users making up your main audience, and articles written about Nextcloud emphasized a coding background (like many open-source communities), Nextcloud was filtered out of the article.

If the comparison on the Seafile review is what is causing alarm, I’m happy to remove it. I’m also happy to hear the case for including Nextcloud in the next update of this article–feel free to reach out directly to rburger@capterra.com.

All the best,
Rachel

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Hi Rachel,

What kind of ‘coding knowledge’ do you mean, if I might ask? Nextcloud is certainly easier to use (universities often pick us over other solutions as our easy UI keeps their support teams from getting flooded) and easier to deploy on a server as Seafile, being merely a PHP app and requiring no firewall changes. Of course, one could use hosted Seafile but that is true with Nextcloud too – just pick one of over 50 providers from nextcloud.com/providers.

If you meant that it is work to enable the apps, that is literally one click (they’ll get downloaded, installed and enabled automatically), so that can’t be it either, right?

And nothing is as easy as the Nextcloud Box – connect it to the network, visit nextcloud.local, give username/password and done. Zero configuration.

Am I missing something here, at what point did you bump into ‘coding knowledge’ being required above and beyond Seafile when installing Nextcloud? We’d love to fix that as being easy to use is our first priority, well, after security perhaps 😉

Greetings,
Jos
(from Nextcloud)

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Hey Hershel,

Thanks for your insights into open-source Dropbox alternatives, and actually Nextcloud and Syncthing were originally on my list. They were eliminated because they were more for information architecture than file sharing than the other options on this list.

The functionality differences mean that the latter two tools require way more coding knowledge to be able to use to their greatest capabilities. Since this post is target toward individuals and small businesses, recommending those two wouldn’t make sense for this audience.

With that said, thank you for calling out those two Dropbox competitors for those interested. I’m sure those Googling for Dropbox alternatives for enterprise or file management will really appreciate it, and I’ll keep them in mind for a more enterprise-level article.

Best,
Rachel

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Regarding:

Unlike the other popular open-source file storage systems (like Syncthing and Nextcloud 11), Seafile is surprisingly straightforward to setup and use.

I disagree. Nextcloud, anyhow, is no more difficult to setup and use then Seafile, in my opinion. The client install is certainly no more involved than for Seafile. Seafile has a Windows server, but it doesn’t look like just anyone could install it — it’s a lot more than just click “Next” ten times on the installer.

Nextcloud does not support Windows, this is true, but the installation on Linux is extremely easy and there are very simple instructions here https://civihosting.com/blog/how-to-install-nextcloud/ and some hosts will install it for you as well.

The other option is to use a Nextcloud VM from here https://www.techandme.se/nextcloud-vm/ which doesn’t appear to be significantly more complicated than Seafile as well.

Great article, overall, however — thank you!

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Thanks Richard!

The ranking factors are at the beginning of the article. Free storage over 10 GB, high security (TLS/SSL and AES) minimum, at least one mobile app for Android, iOS, and Windows, collaboration and sharing, and scalability. The options were listed alphabetically, so aren’t necessarily #1, #2, etc. OneDrive doesn’t offer a free 10 GB, so it didn’t make the cutoff.

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Extremely helpful article. Thanks for all the hard work it took to put this together.

I’d request a couple of minor improvements. (A) It sounds like you used some sort of decision matrix to rank the top seven. My priorities might not be the same as your priorities, so a table of the products’ scores would be very helpful to me. (B) You can’t just name-drop OneDrive without giving the reason why you ruled it out!

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