Cloud storage and file-sharing service Dropbox has proven to be an invaluable tool to many podcasters. The service makes it easy to share files, either thru unique publicly accessible links, or by giving multiple Dropbox users the ability to manage and modify project folders. While those are good (and allowed) use cases for Dropbox, one way podcasters have utilized the service is about to go away forever: Media-file storage and distribution.
It’s true that some podcasters have been taking advantage of a “loophole” in older Dropbox accounts by storing files in their Public Dropbox folders and then linking to those files in their podcast RSS feeds. This process works because Dropbox Public folders have the unique ability to generate truly public file URLs. Yes, it is possible to get a sharable link for nearly any Dropbox file. But most Dropbox share links won’t work for podcasting, as the links themselves are crammed full of code that can’t be read by most podcatchers. Dropbox Public folder URLs are meant to be truly public, and don’t have the limitations of other files being shared thru the service.
But that’s about to end. In an e-mail recently sent to users, Dropbox announced it will be phasing out Public folders for everyone:
The Public folder was the first sharing method we introduced, and since then, we’ve built even better ways for you to share securely and work together with your team.
As a result, we’ll soon be ending support for the Public folder. Dropbox Pro users will be able to use the Public folder until September 1, 2017. After that date the files in your Public folder will become private, and links to these files will be deactivated. Your files will remain safe in Dropbox.
If you’d like to keep sharing files in your Public folder, you can create new shared links. Just make sure to send the new URLs to your collaborators.
Converting Public folders to private folders will kill the ability for those folders to work for media hosting. If you’ve been relying on this hacky solution to power your podcast files, you may want to start looking for a new media host.