I have been using Dropbox for a few years. Now that I have my own blog, it’s time to do a proper review of Dropbox and explain why I like this service so much and why it can simplify your life. My background for more than a decade has been in information technology.
At one time I used to run my own servers at home. I put up with alot of noise and heat for the ability to try out new software, learn new software, and keep my skills sharp. I also used my servers for backups, email, and file sharing/storage. But as burn out set in, I became less tolerant of the heat and noise. It was about this time that I discovered Dropbox.
This was my first step towards simplifying my setup and getting rid of my servers. For those of you who dont know, Dropbox is a cloud based service that synchronizes your files to all computers that you install the client onto and it provides real time backup of those files. It also has web based access to files and it also provides access through supported mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
There are other services like Dropbox, and I have tried some of them only to find that Dropbox is still king. Dropbox excels at simplicity and ease of use. When you install Dropbox, you will be prompted to setup the folder that Dropbox will sync. There you put everything you want to sync and keep backed up.
The beauty of Dropbox is that your files still reside on your computer. If they ever go out of business or your computer is cut off from the internet, you still have access to your files. Then when the computer is back on the internet, the software will start syncing and changes made to your files.
Once you have your files fully synced to Dropbox, then you can install the client on other computers and automatically populate your computers with the files you want access to. Simple and easy.
Dropbox features include:
- Access your files from your computer or mobile devices. Dropbox supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, and Android.
- Anytime access to files regardless of internet connection.
- Dropbox transfers are encrypted via SSL and are stored encrypted (AES-256) on Dropbox servers. Likewise access to your files through the website is also secure.
- Dropbox software only transfers the part of the file that changes saving time and bandwidth during sync.
- Bandwidth can be managed automatically or manually.
- You have the ability to share folders with others.
- Dropbox provides restore capability as well as file versioning.
My experience with Dropbox have been superb. They continue to update Dropbox with new features and bug fixes. I have not had to contact their tech support for anything. I have found on a few occasions that Dropbox would kill my bandwidth or lock a file. Nothing that isnt fixed with restarting Dropbox or restarting the computer. It has been reliable and solid.
If you are syncing multiple computers, sometimes Dropbox will have a hard time knowing what changes to sync if multiple changes have been made on multiple computers. Dropbox does make a copy of the file when it cannot decide which changes to keep, so from time to time you will want to clean out unwanted files that are copies. For me this has not been much of an issue.
HOW I USE DROPBOX
- I use Dropbox first and foremost to keep files synced with my desktop computer, my wife’s computer and my laptop. It’s nice to tell my wife that the file she wants from me is already on her computer
- When I have my Dropbox folder setup, I go into the properties for the default Windows folders (documents, music, picture, and video) and redirect them to the Dropbox folder so that my computer defaults to the Dropbox folder to find files or save files.
- From time to time I pull up files from my iPhone if I forget to bring something I printed out. This was a big life saver for me when I realized I was missing a page of notes for a funeral that I was about to officiate.
- I share files with folks that need access to certain documents or for collaboration on projects. Beats using a USB key or email.
- I keep my music files synced so I can listen to music no matter what computer I am on. Sometimes if there is a song I have not synced to the iPhone, I will pull it up through Dropbox to play.
- Sync all the pictures my wife and I have accumulated over the years and have confidence they are backed up with Dropbox and on more than one computer.
OTHER WAYS TO USE DROPBOX
- Synchronize portable apps and have use of them on any computer.
- Store and sync your passwords with Keypass for Windows. See here for more details.
- Setup an encrypted drive using TrueCrypt.
- Sync Windows folders outside of the default Dropbox folder.
Don’ take my word for it, Dropbox offers a free 2 GB account. Go sign up and see for yourself how Dropbox can simplify your digital life.
Article by Chris Harris @ Between the Temples