Dropbox is one of those services that many of us rely on heavily. It’s been a key part of my workflow for many years, and one of the features that I like about Dropbox was its public folder setup. You could throw a file in there, easily get a link, and share it. It’s a convenient way to share files, especially for one-off situations.
As Dropbox grew and matured, users gained the ability to get a sharing link for any file, which made the public folder slightly less necessary. What this new feature lacked, that the public folder has, is the ability to serve that content natively in the browser. HTML would render, images could be included in a page, and so on. It was, actually, a web host.
And I’m sure people abused the heck out of it. I’ve seen whole websites shared there. I’m sure files that probably shouldn’t be shared are there. Like I said, free web hosting. To their credit, Dropbox would turn some shares off if the bandwidth got too high, but it still was probably spending a large amount of money on bandwidth for shared, public items.
Last week, Dropbox started letting users know it was doing away, once and for all, with the public folder. Accounts created after 2012 never really had the public folder, so this is mostly affecting long-time, legacy users.
Free users will see their access to the public folder go away in March of 2017, for pro users, it will end in September. Here’s a small snip the website note posted last week:
Dropbox Basic (free) users: Beginning March 15, 2017, the Public folder will be converted into a standard Dropbox folder that’s private to your account. This transition will occur automatically. After the transition, when someone visits an existing Public folder link, they’ll see an error page. If you want to share any Public folder content again, you’ll need to use any of our other sharing methods. Learn more.
With the new sharing links, users don’t need a public folder, any file can be shared via link. And as a bonus, Dropbox will probably save some decent money on bandwidth for all the free sharing they were doing.
To celebrate the end of this era, here’s a direct link to an image shared in my Dropbox public folder. It’s a photo of the city of Cardiff, Wales, taken from my favorite bench on the Cardiff barrage. Enjoy, and thanks, Dropbox, for a great service!