The problem with Dropbox Teams

I’ve been a long time user of Dropbox and have had the 100GB personal account for several years now. I’ve been very happy with the way the system works and I’ve setup it up on all my computing devices. My wife now shares the account and we use it to save files we want backed up or accessible across multiple devices.

When Ascentum, my employer decide to use Dropbox too initially it was all good and we just shared files between users. Eventually we started running out of space with different users who only had the free account or small paid accounts. I also noticed that my work files were taking up space in my 100GB personal account quota. So we decide to subscribe to Dropbox Teams, which gives us more storage across all users. The system is priced at $750/year for the first 5 users and $125/year for each user after that and includes 1000GB and 200GB per additional user.

There are few problems with Dropbox team though. First many of our employees had Dropbox accounts, often with their personal email address and now we were inviting them to Dropbox team with their business email. The Dropbox app doesn’t provide the ability to switch accounts easily or allow personal and team logins. So we had to either add users with their personal email addresses or un-authenticate their computers and setup dropbox again with their new account. This also means re-inviting the new user to all the shared folders the old user used. And the employee would almost completely loose access to their personal dropbox account.

For employees with paid Dropbox accounts the process was even more difficult. If we added them using their personal account Dropbox would close their personal account and refund their balance to Ascentum. Yes, Ascentum, their employer and not the individual who paid for the account. This means that Ascentum would need to figure out how to re-emburse employees for their Dropbox balance. No email or billing detailing this transfer could be found, making the reconciliation very challenging.

After a few months of using the service a team member left the company and we need to figure out how to transfer the files they share. If they are not the “Owner” of the share folder its fairly trivial to remove the user with no impact. If they are the owner of the share folder it becomes very complicated because they may have shared folders with any of the other employees. There is no universal view of shared folders across the team. And Dropbox provides no ability to transfer shared folder ownership between users. Instead we need to open a support ticket for each folder we discovered and wanted transfer. It appears that removing the user complete will erase shared folders they own.

We’ve also had some weird folder sync issues between users where we can’t seem to give users shared permission. The only solution seems to be to create a new folder and copy the old content into that folder.

And lastly the Dropbox client features an option to sync over the LAN. This feature seems to enable on Wifi too and without bandwidth limitations can quickly consume most of the WiFi bandwidth. We found this feature to be particularly problematic with employees that recently return to the office and receive a bunch of Dropbox updates immediately from the other LAN clients.

5 comments on “The problem with Dropbox Teams

  1. -

    Agree with all these. Clearly, there has to be some thinking done for these fairly common scenarios. 

    PS did you notice the team pool upgrade to 3TB that was applied this month? 

  2. -

    Hi Colin. Could you provide an update with information regarding how DropBox have addressed any of your issues?

  3. -

    Hi Dan, Unfortunately there’s not much of any update on most the issues above.  I am thinking about writing a follow-up article on how we cope with them.  I’ll try to get them together in the next few days…

  4. -

    i sure do appreciate your writing this up.

    as much as i like the elegance of dropbox for me personally – and am on a Pro account and have purchased them for most of my group – i’ve had great concern over moving my group to Teams because of the complete lack of any sort of support from Dropbox. 

    the product is good. but the service is abysmal on its best day.  pre-sales, post-sales – it’s all equally bad.

    if i’m looking at spending a couple of grand with a company, it seems like common courtesy to return a phone message, respond to a chat window, etc.  “post to the forums” is fine when you’re a startup – but when you are as big as Dropbox has become – that approach is no longer excusable.

    i think i am answering my own doubts in posting this – but how can you possibly trust a part of your business to a company who doesn’t respond with your commitment in kind?

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