It’s rather unorthodox — and possibly abuse — of this series to mention two picks, but, after much internal debate, I was kind of forced to. Both services perform the same task of allowing you to quickly upload and link to files on the whim, but their limitations differ, and, based on your use cases, one may cater to you better than the other.
Before I single them out for the purpose of comparing and contrasting, let me further elaborate on what these services do, and why I use them. CloudApp and Droplr are apps that allow you to upload files primarily by dragging them into an icon in the OS X menu bar (or Windows system tray.) The file will then be uploaded, and a short URL will be copied to your clipboard automatically (this can be disabled if needed). Both services also offer web apps, where you can manage your existing uploads and edit your profile info. And of course, while both services allow you to use them for free, there are limitations. Upgrading to the “pro” versions will also give you more features, such as the ability to associate your uploads with a custom domain.
As you can see, while there are a plethora of methods and services out there that allow you to upload files to the Internet and share them as you wish, these services greatly simplify the process through the apps on your desktop, and display uploaded images within a nice, well-designed website. As someone who frequently communicates with others over Skype and IM, I use CloudApp on a daily basis.
With that introduction out of the way, let me proceed to detail both services — and their strengths and weaknesses — individually.
While I frequently find myself switching between both services, CloudApp is what I’m using at the time of writing. First and foremost, it’s definitely more Mac-centric. Both apps originally were built for OS X, but Droplr developed its own official app for Windows. No official CloudApp software exists for Windows, but there are third-party solutions built on their API.
Using it is very simple. After firing up the app, an icon will show up in your OS X menu bar. To upload, just drag files into the icon, and the URL to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard. By clicking on the icon, you can view your latest uploads and access the preferences area.
In the preferences area, you can fiddle about with “raindrops” — which are essentially plugins that let you say, directly upload something from Photoshop — and change keyboard shortcuts.
So, when using the free version of CloudApp, what are your limits? Well, you can upload up to 10 files each day that are up to 25MB in size. There’s no cap on total uploads, but you just can’t upload more than 10 25MB files each day. Buying CloudApp Pro — $5 for a month, $15 for 3 months, $25 for 6, and $45 for 12 — will allow you to upload as many files a day as you want, with the individual file size restriction raised to 250MB. You also, of course, gain the ability to tie a custom domain with your account if you wish.
On the other hand, we have Droplr. It functions in a very similar fashion: There’s an icon in the menu bar that you simply drag and drop files to in order to upload, while clicking on the icon will grant you access to your latest uploads and the settings area. With Droplr, when viewing your most recent uploads, hovering over them will present you with the option to either copy the link to your clipboard or delete the upload which is rather handy.
Droplr’s settings area is also very similar to CloudApp: You can manage your capture keyboard shortcut, your account, and plugins that you have installed (which are very similar to CloudApp’s raindrops.)
As you can see, there are a couple of relatively minor differences between the services. However, the difference in limitations as a free user are what may sway people towards one over the other. In the case of Droplr, there’s no limit to how many files you can upload in a day, but your account is limited to a total of 1GB. And, like CloudApp, individual file size is capped at 25MB.
If you do need more storage — or the ability to upload larger files — Droplr Pro should do the trick. For $3 a month or $30 a year, you will be able to upload a total of 100GB of files. The individual file size restriction will also be raised to 1GB, and you’ll get features such as statistics, or the ability to create more private, password-protected drops. The ability to use a custom domain is also, of course, included here.
As you can see, in terms of the restrictions placed upon free users, both have their pros and cons. Some may find CloudApp’s 10 upload per day issue limiting, but they may also never need to have 1GB of drops uploaded at the same time. Others may be fine with it, but may want the ability to collectively upload more than just 1GB of files.
When it comes to a pro account, Droplr does definitely beat out CloudApp in pricing and features. You have a definitive limit of 100GB of files, and individual file size is limited to 1GB. With CloudApp however, you can upload an “unlimited” amount of files with an individual file size limit of 250MB. But, is Droplr the clear winner here in terms of file restrictions? It’s a tough call.
The entire purpose of these services is to quickly share things such as pictures and perhaps quick videos, even small files. It’s hard to imagine making a quick drop of a file that’s even close to a gigabyte in size. I’d imagine that such large files will be uploaded elsewhere, using services like SkyDrive or Dropbox, or even on an FTP server.
But of course, there surely are many users and use cases out there that will take advantage of a 1GB file size restriction. And also, something worth noting about CloudApp’s ability to upload a seemingly unlimited amount of files is that, well, we all see what happens when companies offer unlimited anything. I’m not saying that CloudApp does anything malicious to hinder the service of heavy users, but I’m saying that it is possible, and some may take comfort in being provided with a definitive storage limit.
Again, it really depends on your use case. I’ve also noticed that many people have a staunch preference of one service over the other, which is interesting.
As for me, I just want something that makes it extremely easy and painless to upload screenshots and share links to them over Skype and IM, and both tools do the trick. And, even with their differences — big and small — in mind, I give both services a five star rating.