Dropbox Will Soon Be Done With Public Folders, But Existing Users Get To Keep Them

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Dropbox can be a nifty service to have in your digital arsenal, but a new change to the service may make sharing files a little less straightforward. According to an email sent to developers who use the Dropbox API, the cloud storage company will no longer be creating Public folders for new users starting on July 31.

Fret not, you current Dropbox users — a Dropbox representative left a note on the company’s support forums stating that the functionality won’t disappear for current users, but those who create new accounts after the cutoff date won’t be able to their dump files in a public folder to simplify sharing.

The Dropbox team has been busy though, and last month they added a new feature to the mix that in most cases mitigates the need for a Public folder in the first place. Back in April, the company launched the ability to quickly create links to any file stored in a Dropbox account, something that my colleagues were rather enamored with because of its simplicity.

As straightforward as the new feature is, it’s arguably less useful at times. Instead of being able to link directly to a file stored in a Public folder, a link created with the Get Link feature routes people to a download page where they can snag the file. It’s painless enough when you want to keep the file in question, but more than a few people on the Dropbox forums express concerns over sharing certain kinds of files, and photos in particular. After all, it’s far better to just view an image rather than go through the additional step of clicking through a splash page to download it.

But the question remains — why did Dropbox feel the need to do this in the first place? The official reason is a decidedly pragmatic one. According to their email, the new link-oriented sharing model is a more scalable way to handle the sorts of use-cases that people use the Public folder for, which is sure to help as the service continues to grow (they tiptoed over the 50 million registered user mark a few months back). There could still be more behind the change in policy, and I’ve reached out to Dropbox for some further insight.

The change is certainly a bummer (and I’m looking forward to seeing more of how the community reacts to it), but in the end it seems like a small price to pay to keep the service as cheap and responsive as it is.