Dropbox was one of the first mass market cloud storage solutions available and it’s still one of the most widely used services around. It paved the way with easily accessible online storage, great desktop software, and the ability to share a file on your Dropbox with another.
But what about the other way around? What if you’re a teacher getting assignments from your students, an HR manager getting resumes, or a project coordinator getting bids and specs? Dropbox, and many other cloud storage companies, require a folder to be shared along with all of its contents. Even worse, Dropbox requires uploaders to sign up or login to a Dropbox account, which is an unfortunately request to make of a client.
That’s where DBinbox comes in, an add-in for Dropbox that seeks to make requesting uploads easier. Essentially, the service gives you a webpage with a big ol’ drag-and-drop box. All you have to do is set up an account, type in your Dropbox account, and create a name and dbinbox.com sub-URL.
Anyone who knows this website URL can then dump a file in the box, which will then upload to your Dropbox, and then download to your Dropbox folder on your computer. No Dropbox account is required from the sender and it’s super easy for uploaders to use.
Since this is a Dropbox “app,” files will go to an “Apps/dbinbox” folder that will pop up in your Dropbox account. Once a file has been uploaded, you’ll get an e-mail to report the new file.
DBinbox’s free version works as advertised, but it’s not super exciting. You get a single page, user’s uploads are restricted to 20 MB per file, and you can only receive 300 MB per month. While that may be good enough for student essays, 20 MB can be surpassed quite easily with today’s rising file sizes. There’s even no password option in the free service, which I think is an important security feature.
The Better Paid Options
Thankfully, the paid options are reasonable and will unlock most of the features that users would want. For $30 per year ($2.50 per month), the Basic upgrade lets you change your page title, add an access code, create up to 10 upload pages, and you even get an embed code to stick an upload box in your own website instead of referring customers to a 3rd party website.
Your upload limit also rises to a much more reasonable 300 MB per file and 10 GB per month, which will be pretty hard for the average user to surpass.
Should you have above average needs, DBinbox also has a “Pro” tier for $100 per year. This tier raises your limits to an essentially unlimited 999 pages to create, and raises your uploads limits to 1 GB per file and a 999 GB monthly limit that basically means you can’t fill up your 1 TB Pro Dropbox in a single month.
Subfolder categorization is one of the best reasons to buy Pro. You can choose to have DBinbox automatically categorize uploads with individual folders in your Dropbox based on time stamp, e-mail addresses, or an uploader’s name. Since DBinbox doesn’t ask for a sign in or any information normally, choosing either of the latter two options will prompt the uploader to add their e-mail address or name when uploading.
Finally, the Pro tier will unlock some theming options for your website embed. The customization options are a bit superficial, as they only allow you to change the colors of the embedded elements. Disappointingly, there is no option to add a custom logo or design, but it’s not surprising given that services that do cost several times more.
It’s also disappointing that there is no way to customize your DBinbox webpage, only an embedded element that you stick in your own website. But should you not have a website, you are stuck with the standard styling, logos, and design of DBinbox’s websites.
Quick Performance and Good Security
In my testing, uploads consistently maxed out my connection speed, and my Dropbox desktop software immediately started downloading as soon as the upload was complete. DBinbox does what it’s supposed to do quite well.
Dropbox prides itself on its security features and DBinbox isn’t looking to be the weak link, as it offers 256-bit SSL encryption on uploads to Dropbox’s servers.
The only security concern I would have with a service like this is that if you have the Dropbox desktop software installed, DBinbox essentially becomes an open port for someone to upload something to your computer. That’s not really a dig on DBinbox, but a risk when using a service like this. Having the access password will help a lot and so it’s a shame it’s not included in the free option.
A Highly Specific Service to Fill the Gap
DBinbox is a bit of a niche service, but it does exactly what that niche needs and does it well. If you have Dropbox and find yourself in need of receiving files from non-Dropbox users, DBinbox is probably the best option available if you’re willing to pay at least $2.50 per month for the “Basic” plan.
That said, DBinbox’s free options are not very exciting, especially considering that other free competitors, like DropItToMe, offer higher limits, more features, and password protection. On the other hand, its paid service is also not as well featured as more expensive “professional” services like Cisco’s ShareFile, but its price is much more reasonable. DBinbox seems to be geared towards a solid middle ground, offering a compelling feature set without breaking the bank.
I actually wish this service was more than just a Dropbox add-in, as most cloud storage services don’t offer a public and anonymous upload option. DBinbox makes Dropbox an even more compelling option for those looking to fill in this feature gap.