Graphic: Mike Epstein
Dropbox just did a crappy thing to its “Basic” users—free users, that is. The company quietly added a new caveat that limits these accounts to a mere three devices. To use your Dropbox account on four or more devices, you must pay for the service’s premium version, which will cost you at least $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.
If you already had a free Dropbox Account before the switch, there’s good news and bad news. Dropbox won’t deactivate any devices if you exceed this new limit. So, if you have 10 devices synced to one free Dropbox account, they will all continue to work. Phew.
However, users who have more than three devices attached to their accounts will not be able to sync any new hardware until they unlink all but two of their devices to comply with the new limit. If you decide to get a new phone, for example, you will have to pare down your devices to access your files. Even for people who regularly use three devices (or fewer), this will likely present some challenges down the line and push you to comply, go premium, or move away from Dropbox entirely.
This means you will most likely need to spend some time reviewing and unlinking some of your old devices. To do so on the web, log into Dropbox, click on the profile icon in the top right corner of the window, and go into “Settings.” In the settings menu, click on “Security,” then scroll down to the “Devices” section, which will show all the devices you’ve used to log into Dropbox. If you’re anything like me, the list will be very long.
This is just some of my Dropbox device bloat.Screenshot: Mike Epstein
Going forward, if you have a free Dropbox account, you’re going to want to make a mental plan for how you plan to use the service. In other words, think about how you use Dropbox on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis: Where do you get the most frequent benefits? Where does it save you the most time? Where do you access your files a lot versus sparingly? Take all elements, weigh them in your head, and use that to help you decide which devices should have access to your account and which will not. It’s a pain—and a silly pain, given that so many of us live in a multi-device world—but it will save you time and frustration as you transition to the new, limited life of a Dropbox free user.