Dropbox is kickass… except

I love Dropbox. Part of the reason I love it so much is that it solves real "business" problems that most I.T. departments either don't agree with, or don't have tactile experience with. It's also not lost on me that there is a certain sense of control aspect about my computing habits that I like keeping in my favor, rather than being required to adhere to a particular company policy or someone else's "best practices".

At Novell we open-sourced something called iFolder. It's now completely in the open-source world so anyone can develop and extend on the code base. I'm not sure if that's what Dropbox and their competitors have done, but the similarities of the services are too similar and coincidental to suggest otherwise. Regardless of the underlying code (and there is nothing at all wrong with extending an open-source code base to offer a compelling commercial service) the benefits I get from Dropbox are great.

What the hell is Dropbox? It's a service that allows you to automatically sync, store, and share files across multiple computers and devices. I use it as a replacement for "My Documents" in windows.

For instance, when I create a new doc, slide deck, excel spreadsheet, picture, music file, whatever; I save it like I would any other file I want to keep, only I do it in the Dropbox environment. That's when the magic happens. Dropbox automatically syncs my folders and files across all my devices automatically. I can even share certain folders and files so people I want so they can also see, download, edit, save, etc., those folders and files. Dropbox offers 2G for free and you can get much more storage for a small fee.

Office computer: CHECK

Laptop: CHECK

Home computer: CHECK

iPhone: CHECK


If I don't have any of my devices handy and I still want to access my files? No problem. They have a web interface where I can login and grab the file I need.

I can access my files and folders from any of my devices. Moreover, since the files are stored in the "cloud" as well as across all devices, if I lose a hard-drive, or a computer is stolen my data is all backed-up all the time and in multiple places. Case in point, I just got a new computer and I had all my files on it within seconds.

Now for the "EXCEPT"……..

The other morning I came into the office early and booted up my machine. Dropbox starts automatically (as typical) and syncs with any files that have changed or been altered. I started seeing the updates in the system tray (again, as usual) except this time I started seeing files I've never created, much less ever saved into my Dropbox. Weird.

I asked the few people that I share some Dropbox-enabled folders with. They hadn't created these nor shared them.

Drill into the "Tunes" folder and you see this:


Go one more level and there is the actual "Jazz" music. And, yes, the music plays when you click on the MP3s.


It's not a deal-breaker for me. I get far too much value out of Dropbox to stop using it, but it does make you wonder about their software and the promise of the cloud. Intuitively I know that my files are out in the Dropbox datacenter (which could be a cloud-service like Rackspace or Amazon for all I know), and my files are likely alongside hundreds of other Dropbox users on the same server. The weird thing is that why would I be able to see and access files (copyrighted files?) that are obviously not mine? Not created by someone I know. And what does that mean for my stuff?