Dropbox, the renowned cloud storage company, is imposing restrictions on data access for businesses, citing the misuse of its services by cryptocurrency miners. The decision comes in the wake of the company’s realization that its unlimited storage offering, originally designed for businesses operating from shared spaces, was being exploited by individuals for personal use and even resold for profit. This shift in policy has been largely triggered by the rise of Chia, a cryptocurrency that relies heavily on storage space for its unique mining process, thus encouraging users to leverage cloud storage platforms like Dropbox.
The Chia cryptocurrency employs a ‘proof of space and time’ consensus model that deviates from the traditional ‘proof of work’ or ‘proof of stake’ models used by Bitcoin and Ethereum respectively. This novel approach incentivizes users with crypto rewards based on "plots" of 100 GB storage space staked out on hard drives, circumventing the need for energy-intensive GPUs. This has led to an influx of users exploiting cloud storage platforms offering instantaneous file transfers, with Dropbox being a prime target. As a result, Dropbox has reported a surge in customers consuming thousands of times more storage than typical business users, thereby jeopardizing the reliability of their service for all users.
Dropbox Limits Cloud Storage for Businesses Due to Crypto Mining Misuse
Popular cloud storage provider Dropbox, has announced it will no longer offer unlimited cloud storage to new customers. This change in policy comes as a response to misuse of the service by certain users, including cryptocurrency miners.
Misuse of Unlimited Storage
Dropbox’s unlimited storage plan was originally designed to cater to businesses operating in shared spaces. However, the company has observed a trend of users pooling their unlimited storage for personal use and reselling storage to others. The company also singled out Chia, a unique cryptocurrency which relies on storage space for mining, as a significant contributor to the problem.
Chia runs on a "proof of space and time" consensus model, which requires a lot of storage space. This process, unlike Bitcoin’s proof of work or Ethereum’s proof of stake models, doesn’t require GPUs for mining. Chia miners can earn crypto rewards based on "plots" of 100 GB storage space on hard drives. Some miners have been exploiting cloud storage platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive to stake these plots.
A Surge in Misuse
Dropbox has noticed a significant increase in this kind of behavior recently, especially after other services implemented similar policy changes. Such customers often consume thousands of times more storage than genuine business customers, risking the reliability of the service for all users.
Moving to a Metered Model
In order to avoid creating a long list of rules for its unlimited plan, Dropbox has decided to shift to a "metered" model. Dropbox Advanced now supports 15 TB of storage, shared equally across three licenses. The subscription typically costs $30 per user, per month, but customers can purchase up to 1,000 TB of data storage at the higher end.
Existing Dropbox Advanced subscribers can keep their current storage amount, provided it’s under 35 TB, for the next five years. Companies using more than 35 TB will still be able to use their current data plan, with an additional 5 TB for the next year. The company plans to migrate more companies to new plans on November 1st. New customers will now only receive 15 TB of storage space, shared by at least three people.
Not the Only One
Dropbox isn’t the only company to restrict its once unlimited cloud storage. Over the past few years, Google has taken steps to end unlimited photo cloud storage and has moved to a "pooled storage" model for business accounts. Users who once believed their Google Workspace Enterprise Storage was effectively unlimited soon found it was indeed limited.
The misuse of cloud storage by crypto miners and those reselling storage space has led to Dropbox’s decision to limit its storage for businesses. This move highlights the challenges companies face in maintaining service quality amid changing user behaviors and technological advancements, such as cryptocurrency mining. While it may be disappointing for some users, it is a necessary step for Dropbox to ensure a reliable experience for all its customers.