The One Reason G Suite Resellers Itomic Can’t Let Go of Dropbox: Binary Diff

April 25, 2019

Ross Ross Gerring

Firstly, it’s important to stress that we’ve got nothing against Dropbox. It’s an excellent product, great for creating, storing and sharing files, and much more, at affordable prices.

Secondly, this article is not intended to be a comprehensive side-by-side comparison of the two services. You can Google for those here.

Thirdly, we’re zooming in on a specific (and excellent!) feature offered by both companies. Google calls it Drive File Stream, and Dropbox calls it Smart Sync. If you’re a G Suite or Dropbox user, and you’re NOT using these, you really should! But that’s another article.

The 3 reasons why Itomic would like to abandon Dropbox 100% in favour of Google’s G Drive Drive (G Drive) are:

  1. Less is more. We strive for less systems, less complexity, for ourselves and our customers.
  2. We’ve been using G Suite products and services for years, plus we’re a G Suite Reseller. We eat our own dog food, as the saying goes.
  3. Binary diff.

Reason 3, binary diff, is the only reason we can’t abandon Dropbox 100% today.

Dropbox Smart Sync supports binary diff. Google Drive File Stream does not, yet.

Binary diff facilitates incremental file syncing. It’s simpler than it sounds.

Let’s saying you’re working with a large 100Mb file. It might be a large document, photo, video… any file/type at all. You then make the smallest of changes to that file, e.g. you correct a single spelling mistake in a 1,000 page Word document. When you save the file, and if binary diff is available, only the tiny parts (bits and bytes) of your file that changed get auto-synced with your remote (cloud) file storage service. If not, then the entire file gets auto-synced with your remote file storage service. In our example this could be the difference between 100Mb of data (i.e. the entire document) needing to be sent, versus just a few Kbs (kilobytes).

If you only ever work with relatively small files, and/or you have a high speed connection, then this might not be such a big deal, i.e. hardly noticeable.

But this can be a major problem if you’re often working with larger files and/or on a slower internet connection (e.g. wi-fi). Your internet connection will be frequently – maybe even permanently – flooded with the files you’re working on being synced with your cloud file storage service. This may negatively affect others too (e.g. in a small office) if you’re sharing your connection with them. And if you have data transfer limits (which is typical on wi-fi) then you’re going to hit those limits pretty quickly, possibly causing you additional data transfer costs.

Itomic often works with larger file sizes, e.g. original graphic files. Plus we have team members in multiple locations, and so we need to share between offices/locations. Until Google’s Drive File Stream supports binary diff, we’re reliant on using both services. (We sync data between G Drive and Dropbox via a NAS box, but that’s another story too).

If you’re an existing G Suite user and would like to see Drive File Stream support binary diff, please consider voting up our feature request here:

(please note: for the above link to work you must be a G Suite user, and with a CloudConnectCommunity account)

If you’d like to learn more about G Suite and/or Itomic (the web/app specialists!), please contact Itomic today.