SmackDown: iCloud vs. Dropbox. Who Wins?

The cloud is all the rage this year. App developers are making their apps capable of storing and synchronizing in the cloud (whichever cloud happens to be popular at the moment).

For Mac users, the two most prominent clouds are Apple’s hugely successful iCloud. And Dropbox.

In a cloud-to-cloud smackdown, the first thing that becomes obvious is that both services are cloud-based, and both work similarly, even priced in a similar way, but they each think different.

Here’s how Apple explains iCloud:

Basically, iCloud is for Mac and PC, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch users who want to sync photos and music and data from one device to another; seamlessly, quietly, quickly, no effort involved.

There’s a reason Apple has over 100-million iCloud users already. Unlike MobileMe’s launch, iCloud works.

What of Dropbox?

It’s similar in that Dropbox is cloud-based, and anything you save on one device gets synchronized on other devices.

Apps can be designed to save their content (music, files, documents, photos, data) into your Dropbox folder on your device, which then gets synced up with Dropbox, when then syncs the same data to your other Dropbox devices.

For Mac users which is best? It depends. Dropbox lets you manage folders and files and access is available in the Finder or the Menubar.

iCloud is typical Apple and stays mostly out of the way. Cloud-inspired apps will give you the option to store files on either iCloud or Dropbox.

Some parts of iCloud I don’t like. For example, photos from my iPhone get synced to the iCloud Photo Stream and they’re not easy to delete. On the other hand, Dropbox requires some folder and file management.

Both iCloud and Dropbox are free to use up to a certain amount of data usage, then you have to upgrade to paid storage.

So far, there’s not a clear winner, with just enough differences between the two to keep them both. There are more apps that use Dropbox, so the edge is there. But Apple doesn’t require any app installation or management to sync photos, music, data, or apps to iCloud, so it’s a little easier to use.

It isn’t much of a smackdown when there’s no clear winner.


  1. The Megaupload debacle means no-one can trust any form of cloud for secure storage. All it will take is one other customer uploading something considered copyright protected and the site will be shut down in dawn raids. All the other customers are out of luck.

  2. Megaupload was a serious, not inadvertent, offender. If I take photos or movies that belong to someone else and upload them to iCloud, chances are good iCloud won’t be closed down.

    My iCloud account might suffer, though.

  3. 1. Open Safari on your comp0uter.

    2. Go to and logged in.

    3. Clicked your name in the upper right corner

    4. Clicked Advanced button.

    5. Reset Photostream.

  4. I agree about iCloud’s photo stream. Deleting is easy, but deleting only a few select photos is mostly impossible.

    Maybe this time next year Apple will have more iCloud options in their apps, and 3rd party developers will have more apps that rely on iCloud.