back to article Dropbox CEO: I will make your worklife a calmer experience

Feeling overwhelmed by the number of unread emails in your inbox? Frustrated that you had to trawl through 1,000 Slack messages before finding the one you were looking for? Unable to find the latest version of the presentation your team has to give tomorrow? Well, worry no more because Dropbox is going to do all that sifting …

  1. sbt

    A few years from now: Ring! Ring!

    People are going to have to go back to calling each other constantly, to make sure the e-mails got through (I know, it happens now sometimes).

    1. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: A few years from now: Ring! Ring!


      Get real. Many times now, I simply send the email and then walk 2 floors to go find the person and stand next to them to get stuff done.

      The irony is that email is making business worse by making comms like a sludge pit of ignored requests but the second email is not available the entire workfoce in a company loses its marbles, several dozen techs spring into action to get the service back up and running in nanoseconds so we can all get back to ignoring each other.

  2. dajames


    This looks to my like a cynical attempt on the part of Dropbox to get users to give Dropbox permission to access all their other online accounts so that the data from those accounts can be collected together.

    While it might be nice to have one login through which I could access all my online activity, I certainly don't want that login to by under the control of some third party entity (like Dropbox). If what was being talked about here was a server component I could run on MY server, under MY control -- and if I could be quite certain that it didn't "phone home" with MY data -- I might be interested.

    As it is? Nah.

    1. LeahroyNake

      Re: Privacy

      ' I certainly don't want that login to by under the control of some third party entity (like Dropbox).'

      I totally agree. Especially if the likes of Google or Facebook try / decide to buy them out. I was burned by WhatsApp etc.

  3. matt 83

    I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

    I really love how effective their file syncing is and have been paying for it for years but I'm just not interested in all this bloated crap.

    It's a real shame they don't seem prepared to offer a lower priced subscription to just the file syncing service and let the people who want fancy search and pay for it on their own without being subsidised. I suppose that's life though.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

      Onedrive is really good now, but it does mean committing to Windows 10 which probably won't go down well! Files are always visible in Explorer and just download when needed. Recent update cleans up space from unused files too.

      Other than that, if you want on-prem there are alternatives like Nextcloud

      1. matt 83

        Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

        I've been permanently put off onedrive after experiencing the steaming pile that was onedrive for business. That and these days I need something that's properly cross platform without having to resort to 3rd party clients (google drive is also a non starter for this reason).

        I'm giving spideroak another go but wasn't too impressed with that either when I tried it a few years ago.

        I'll probably also have another look at syncthing and nextcloud.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

          Both clients are the same now, so no problems with the business side any more. I just wish it would work on Linux as I have a low powered laptop that's not up to the job.

          1. LeahroyNake

            Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

            If you have a lot of patience you can use rsync. It is a protocol rather than a product with a polished UI but it does work. Most NAS boxes support it but it can be a royal pain to set up and is missing a lot of features that Dropbox etc offers unless you can script some awesomeness on top.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

        One word: Nextcloud

        1. DasWezel
          Thumb Up

          Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

          Second that vote for Nextcloud. Use it at work and home, the latter is pushing about 2Tb of data with no bother. :-)

    2. cosmogoblin

      Re: I really need a decent alternative to dropbox

      I really love how effective their file syncing is

      +1. I happily pay £100 a year to use Dropbox for two reasons - syncing across devices, and backup for when (not if, when) I mistype rm -rf ~/*. Web login is also an occasionally life-saving feature. Everything else can go hang.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "files from a range of other services including Slack, Zoom and Trello into one Dropbox folder"

    Perhaps if there were different folders for each service it might be easier. And why not local instead of on somebody else's computer.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Different folders for each service? Genius!

      Now, if only somebody could build a program that would automatically split incoming messages into those folders. You could call it "e-mail".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slightly ironic

    "tech workers (in social-economic terms, wealthy, young white men with computer science degrees)?" - forgetting all the tech workers in India, China, Vietnam, Kenya etc. Trying to show white guilt and accidentally showing bias.

    Anonymous 'cos any statement in this area is risky.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slightly ironic

      Well we've seen numerous situations where AI has shown bias against or just plain ignored people with skin that's non-white, so I think that's fair comment from el Reg - wasn't there a hand dryer that only worked for white skin FFS?

    2. holmegm

      Re: Slightly ironic

      Yes, the weird white guilt here is offputting.

      Strange in any case - I mean, tech workers would almost certainly be the early adopters of this.

      Q: "How are you going to make sure that your product doesn't work best for its target market?"

      A: "Um ... "

    3. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Slightly ironic

      I was thinking about Silicon Valley tech types

      1. Danny Boyd

        Re: Slightly ironic

        Of course you did. Given scarcity of specialists of Indian, Chinese and whatnot extraction in Silicon Valley...

  6. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    1000 emails?

    1) Do not give your email address to every shop that asks.

    2) If receiving email is essential create a new address for each sender including the sender's name.

    3) If a sender becomes spammy disable their address.

    4) grep '[Uu]nique phrase' -r ~/Maildir/cur/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 1000 emails?

      There's siloed thinking right there; some people have very many direct reports, even more indirect ones and need to be aware of email going to large groups, if only to weed out the crap from the good stuff. It's not all potential spam, just some mail is potentially less important than others at any one time and that can change depending on context (a failing project for instance); even if AI was 99% accurate, that missing 1% could be the most vital 1%...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: 1000 emails?

        "need to be aware of email going to large groups, if only to weed out the crap from the good stuff"

        Do you see any of the root causes of the problem in there?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1000 emails?

          I do indeed, but I trust an AI system less than myself to decide what is correct and what's not. I'm not saying there's not a problem but I am saying this isn't a workable solution.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using AI for this task is utter crap.

    Even I myself can not decide if an email is important before I could take a look at it. How can a sane person believe that a machine will have a chance at doing that.

    1. DBH

      Re: Using AI for this task is utter crap.

      Today, yes. Come back to this thread in 10 (or 20) years and see if you still agree with yourself. Things are moving terrifyingly quickly in this field

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @DBH - Re: Using AI for this task is utter crap.

        No need to. More than twenty years ago, I was living in a country where the communist regime knew very well what was important for me and what was not. And they were damn good at it!

    2. Persona

      Re: Using AI for this task is utter crap.

      I tend not to know what was important till days weeks or weeks later when I recall bits that fit together.

  8. 9Rune5

    DropBox... Never again

    I recently needed access to my dropbox account, and then it dawned on me: I haven't accessed it in years.

    Well, that is what that 16 character long emergency backup code is for, right?

    Wrong. The emergency backup code is now 8 digits. AFAICT they replaced their old emergency backup scheme.

    And at one point I trusted 2FA so much that I removed my phone number as a backup device (I had the emergency backup code, right?). Oh, and I have replaced all my devices since then too.

    A little googling reveals similar stories. One gentleman was also repeatedly told that there was nothing dropbox support could do. But after a lot of complaining they eventually helped him anyway. I tried that route, but entering the first 8 characters, as suggested, in lieu of the 8-digits, did not help either. Their support is just a waste of time.

    Oh wait, they wanted me to use their service for work-related stuff? Yeah... When pigs fly....

  9. Christian Berger

    Now if you were using any semi-decent e-mail client

    you'd have your mail neatly sorted into threads making it easy to find what you are looking for.

    1. FuzzyWuzzys

      Re: Now if you were using any semi-decent e-mail client

      Manager: What did you get done this week?

      Me: Not much, 90% of the time I was sorting through the emails you keep auto-forwarding me from your inbox rules!

  10. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    Dropbox has certainly identified a problem been playing with some cool toys and it’s also decided how it would like to try to fix it make a bit of cash out of that.

    There. FTFY

  11. Alistair

    The BEST comment on AI I've seen. Period. Ever.

    " but when you try to make it actually happen, the result is usually motion sickness and dead pedestrians. "

    Thanks. Have a bubbly!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eh, I am not so sure this is a good idea

    It may be great for routine emails you get about subjects that were already common in your email inbox (social media notifications, various ads and offers, etc.), but it is not going to work well for non-routine stuff that may be very important. (You get a message from a seldom-heard relative about an important illness in the family. You get something about a legal action or situtation that may impact you. You get a recruiter contacting you about a potential job opportunity.)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Machine learning? Really?

    “If you open the same file every Wednesday then we will be open to put that at the top when you log in.”

    If thats the best they can get out of machine learning they should just give up now. I could produce the same functionality with a dozen or so ines of procedural code and a list of document opening dates and times.

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