What you need to know about storing your content on Google Drive, Dropbox

You own your digital content stored in a cloud service but possibly not all the rights to it. Be aware of what's involved.

Before you choose to store your content in the cloud, you might want to peruse the terms of the service agreement you're forced to rubber stamp, as painful as that might be.

What you might learn from a casual reading of such agreements could be very enlightening. Take this comparison of the service terms for Google Drive and Dropbox.

Both cloud storage providers emphatically state that any content you store with them belongs to you. No doubt both services have learned to say that from the past ownership tribulations of rival Facebook

Google Drive

"Some of our Services allow you to submit content," Google's service agreement explains. "You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours."

While you own content uploaded to Google Drive, the act of storing it with Google has some strings attached. "When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works..., communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content," Google's agreement states.

That license, though, is limited, according to Google. Any rights to use your stuff that you grant Google will only be used for "operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones," the agreement explains.

Google also claims the right to keep using your stuff even after you stop using its services (an example would be for a business listing you added to Google Maps).

Dropbox

Dropbox, too, emphasizes that you own your content. "You retain full ownership to your stuff," its terms-of-service agreement declares. "We don't claim any ownership to any of it."

The agreement also provides that its terms "do not grant us any rights to your stuff or intellectual property except for the limited rights that are needed to run the Services...." While that may sound less intrusive than Google's agreement, it still means Dropbox is claiming some rights.

Dropbox, though, doesn't make any claims to your content after you stop doing business with it.

Another provision in the Dropbox agreement notes that "aside from the rare exceptions we identify in our Privacy Policy, no matter how the Services change, we won't share your content with others, including law enforcement, for any purpose unless you direct us to."

Among the exceptions in Dropbox's Privacy Policy are details of how Dropbox will comply with law enforcement requests to peek at your stuff. It will make such disclosures to:

  • comply with a law, regulation, or compulsory legal request;
  • protect the safety of any person from death or serious bodily injury;
  • prevent fraud or abuse of Dropbox or its users; or
  • to protect Dropbox's property rights

When files are turned over to a law enforcement agency, the privacy policy explains, Dropbox will remove its decryption from them. If you encrypt your files before you upload them to Dropbox, then the law enforcement agency would have to ask you to decrypt them.

Storing some of your digital treasures in the cloud can be convenient and give you a sense of security. You just have to remember that you lose a measure of control over your content when you put it there--even if your storage provider cedes total ownership of it to you.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John P. Mello Jr.

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?