Tools for the Trade: Dropbox backs up, syncs, eases file sharing
If you're like me, you've been away from your computer before and not had that document or video you needed for a project or were going to share with a colleague. To avoid this frustrating situation I started using Dropbox a year ago and have never turned back.
Dropbox is a cross-platform cloud-based storage application that allows you to sync files online. Let me explain what that means exactly.
With Dropbox you have the ability to sync your files on your home computer, your laptop, the Dropbox website, and even your iPhone. It takes away the stress of having to send files to yourself via email or making sure you remember that tiny flash drive.
At 9 Clouds we use Dropbox daily to work on projects with our team here in Sioux Falls and a remote worker in Omaha. It is super slick as I can put a video clip into my Dropbox folder, share that folder with our team online, and now anyone else can add to the folder or pull my video onto their own computer.
The other nice feature of Dropbox is its ability to remember version history and file edits. This is perfect for collaboration as you can go back to track changes and either undo or bring back any past files. Dropbox tracks file history for up to 30 days for free and a paid upgrade can make that time unlimited.
Dropbox backs up files online automatically and you can work in Dropbox offline and your changes will be reflected as soon as you establish an Internet connection. Dropbox can be used with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers and will sync files of any type.
The only downside I can think of with Dropbox is its limited space online of only 2 gigabytes for the free basic version. However, you can earn up to 5 gigabytes of space by referring other people to join Dropbox (or simply referring yourself to various email addresses, shhh). If five gigs isn't enough you can upgrade to Dropbox Pro 50 which gives 50 gigabytes of space for $9.99 a month or Dropbox Pro 100 which allows for up to 100 gigabytes of space for $19.99 a month.
The Dropbox team never responded to my questions but I do know the service was released in September 2008 and currently has over 3 million users. If you need any more explanation I'd suggest watching the video on the Dropbox homepage produced by the Common Craft team, one of my favorite businesses on the web.