Dropbox: A Great Way to Store, Synch, Share Files, and Collaborate

DropboxThere are quite a few services available where you can sign up for a free account and receive online storage space to store your files. Having tried a few, I’ve found Dropbox to be the best among the available services, even trumping Box.net.

Such online storage services are great if you work on documents and files on a number of computers in different locations. Personally, I like to sometimes bring work home so I can concentrate on completing the task in the dead of the night when there are few distractions. Sure, you can always email the file(s) to yourself or FTP it to a server, but why bother when you can just use a service like Dropbox?

What makes Dropbox different?

For starters, instead of having to log on to the service site, you download a client onto your computer (available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux) which then assigns a folder on your computer where you can easily add/delete/edit your files and they’ll be immediately synched. Create or delete a new folder in the assigned folder and it’ll be created/deleted on your Dropbox account too. The same goes for files.

To access the files on another terminal where you can’t install the client, you can access the web interface (shown below) to do the same.

Dropbox Web Interface

Here comes the next great part about Dropbox: if you make changes to any file either from the web interface or from the specified folder on your computer, a notification will pop up to tell you just that on any computer where you have the client installed! This feature is great if you plan on using Dropbox to collaborate on documents with co-workers.

There are other great ways to use Dropbox that I’ll briefly detail below:

File Sharing
What good is an online storage service when you cannot share files with others? Dropbox lets you share files either via a link or by specifying a specific folder as Shared. Personally, it’s a simple and great way for me to share sermon mp3s and transcripts with friends without having to worry about mail attachment thresholds.

It’s also great for those who would like to add an audio clip on their blog but are unable to do so because of restrictions on the plug-ins that they can use, e.g. blogs on WordPress.com.

Basic SVN
Developers will know what a SVN is and appreciate its usefulness. For non-technical folks it just means that you can see changes made to a document and even roll-back or revert to an earlier version of the document, without having to rename each iteration.

Traditionally, if you have a document saved as DocumentOne, you might want to save a modified version of the document as DocumentOne-date. With Dropbox, you don’t need to worry about renaming your document — the SVN features in the service lets you see what changes have been made to the document, and you can even revert to any iteration (shown below). To take advantage of this feature, you’ll need to access your account via the web interface.

Dropbox SVN

Best of all, you can also recover files that you accidentally delete too!

Photo Gallery
Dropbox offers a special folder as a photo gallery. As with services like Flickr, pictures dropped into this folder have thumbnails automatically generated (shown below). When you click a thumbnail to view the larger-size picture, you can navigate to other photos in the folder as a slide show.

The folder is private by default, but you can easily share it or any sub-folder within with friends and family using the public URL.

Dropbox Gallery

OK, I want Dropbox; how do I get an account?
Dropbox is still in beta, but those who already have an account, like me, can invite up to 10 people as users. The service is currently free, and all beta users receive 2 gigabytes of storage space. If you are keen on using Dropbox, just leave a comment and I’ll send you an invite via email.

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6 Responses

  1. I could use an invite. Thanks!

  2. Hoon:

    Thank you for visiting. I’ve sent you an invite to Dropbox at the email you specified with your comment.

  3. @Isaiah

    I’m keen for an invite, but I will email you as I have a question…

  4. Nathan:

    Glad it worked the way you wished it did, bro. 🙂

  5. @IsaiahC: Just letting you know I setup DropBox and it is working perfectly. Could not be happier. 🙂

  6. @ Nathan W. Bingham:

    Sweet, bro, sweet! Glad I could be of some help. 🙂

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