Dropbox review

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Those that have been following my posts know that I’m very conscious about cloud services and putting information on someone else’s servers. There are many different aspects to consider, including ownership of the data and the laws that govern you and the laws that govern your data. Keeping all this in mind, I’ve been using Dropbox for quite a few years for non-sensitive information that I need to share between different devices. As an owner of a company that provides 3rd party IT support to clients, privacy and security of data are something I am forced to think about all the time.

In the early days, Dropbox didn’t make specific reference to data ownership in their terms of service. A few years ago, the whole ‘data ownership’ discussion came to light, and many cloud services came under scrutiny. It was then that Dropbox updated its terms of service to specifically address the question of data ownership:

“Your Stuff & Your Permissions

When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content, email messages, contacts and so on (“Your Stuff”). Your Stuff is yours. These Terms don’t give us any rights to Your Stuff except for the limited rights that enable us to offer the Services.

We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like photo thumbnails, document previews, email organization, easy sorting, editing, sharing and searching. These and other features may require our systems to access, store and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this permission extends to trusted third parties we work with.”

So while this actually states that they have the right to access your data, they do specifically state that “Your Stuff is yours”. Again, this doesn’t preclude Dropbox from access or reading your data (so keep that in mind when uploading information), but I can certainly appreciate that they’re willing to come out and officially write in their terms of service that you retain ownership of your data, despite uploading it to them for storage.

I wish more companies would be as forthcoming when it comes to things like intellectual property ownership and rights. Too often nothing is said at all, which can leave you wondering what’s really going on with the information you’re storing in the cloud. Remember, you are responsible for ensuring that whatever online service you use (or you recommend to clients) complies with your local laws and statutes in respect to privacy and ownership.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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