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Dropbox vs OwnCloud – Detailed Comparison

by Pratik
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If you are looking for cloud storage options, Dropbox and GSuite are the popular options. On the other hand, OwnCloud is one of the major offerings for self-file hosting. The primary difference between both Dropbox and OwnCloud is pricing. With that said, here are the differences between OwnCloud and Dropbox.

Before we begin

Here is the TLDR version of this comparison. For most of you who don’t have an IT department and the resources to invest in server and storage, Dropbox is the best option. For others who care to host their own data, OwnCloud is the ideal option. With that out of the way, let’s drive in the detailed comparison of OwnCloud vs Dropbox.

OwnCloud vs Dropbox

1. Pricing

OwnCloud is basically free. But, you have to download and set it up on your own machine. OwnCloud supports Linux only. So, you would need either a Linux system or a virtual machine to set up OwnCloud. You get OwnCloud client apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS to access your files from any device. So, all your employees would be able to access the files irrespective of any platform.

OwnCloud Android and iOS client apps are paid and will set you back $1 each.

OwnCloud itself is free but that won’t exempt you from costs. Since you are hosting your files within your premises, you would have to bear the cost of 2 things.

  • Server space
  • Storage

Primarily, you would need a machine available 24×7 that has OwnCloud running on it. The electricity and machine cost is something to keep in mind. Server space costs won’t bother you much but hosting files require space. Depending on the file type and size you would have to gauge storage space. For instance, we being a media house deal with a lot of videos, audio, and PSD files. We have a WD EX4100 NAS in place that provides 32 TB of storage. As of now, it costs around $2000.

Dropbox Business is a cloud file-storage application. The basic plan is free that provides 2 GB/user. But, that space is just meager for an enterprise. The paid prices start at $15/month/user that provides 5 TB storage per user. You can go unlimited on the storage by upgrading to the Advanced plan at $25/month/user. Dropbox offers a 30-day trial period which would help you make a better decision on the pricing tiers.


2. Security

When you are dealing with sensitive documents or official data, security is a key component to be considered. Let’s start with OwnCloud. OwnCloud is an open-source product and the key reason to choose it is security. Since, the data is stored on your local machine or server, the chances of a public breach are quite low.

OwnCloud provides a flexible amount of encryption capabilities. You can either go with the built-in AES-256 encryption or configure your own encryption method. You can also configure your firewall server or application with OwnCloud. Additionally, you can encrypt the data traveling through the network with the help of SSL (no TLS). The second most important part of security in an enterprise is auditing. OwnCloud provides a full audit trail allowing you to understand how, when, and where data is accessed and shared.


On the other hand, Dropbox also provides the same level of data encryption. For files on the cloud, it provides AES-256 and for the data in transit, it uses SSL/TLS. Now, the infrastructure of file preview and file access is quite complicated in Dropbox.

To break it down into simple words, Dropbox fragments data and store them into different spaces. So, the file preview is on a different server whereas the file is stored on a different server. Hence, if one gains access to the file preview, he might not be able to access other files and folders.

dropbox-infrastructure - dropbox vs owncloud

3. Add-Ons

File storing and sharing is the primary task of both these services. However, you would benefit from additional tools the services present. For instance, when you use Google Drive, you get additional apps like Google Keep Notes. Google Keep Notes help you to quickly take notes and store it on the same cloud storage. It might not be the primary reason for you to hop on Google Drive but you benefit from these additional add-ons.

Similarly, OwnCloud has a Marketplace that has a similar app called Carnet. OwnCloud comes with no bloat and you would need multiple add-ons like Metadata to even view file metadata information.

owncloud-carnet-note-taking - dropbox vs owncloud

On the other hand, Dropbox offers extensions to add additional functionalities to your Dropbox storage. In comparison to OwnCloud, I see popular add-ons with Dropbox. You get popular extensions like Adobe Sign, Canva, Pixlr,  Nitro PDF, etc.

dropbox-extensions - dropbox vs owncloud

4. Collaborative Tools

Although this might not be a priority for choosing a file-sharing platform, down the line you will be craving for it. Google Docs and Google Sheets are a good example of collaborative tools. OwnCloud comes in integration with Collabra that lets you collectively edit and share Libre Office docs on the cloud. In case you don’t know, LibreOffice is an open-source alternative for Microsoft Office.

Dropbox has its own document collaboration tool called Dropbox Paper. It’s more of like Google Docs but you get the gist. Apart from these, Dropbox integrates well with all the popular tools. Whether, it is Gmail or Slack, you have it all. So, in terms of collaborative features, Dropbox has an upper hand.

Which to choose: Dropbox vs OwnCloud

Dropbox has much more to offer in terms of collaboration and add-ons. Moreover, the set up is no brainer and you don’t have to manage any resource. So, for most people, Dropbox is a better option. On the flip side, if you have the resources and the IT knowledge, setting up OwnCloud storage will provide you the best way to manage your data. The initial setup and configuration might be tedious but provides total control over your data.

For more issues or queries, let me know in the comments below.

Also Read: OwnCloud vs NextCloud – Best Self File Hosting Application?

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