Dropbox lets you share files across multiple computers and whatever devices you use, keeping them synced almost instantly. It’s the answer to emailing files to yourself and carrying a flash drive everywhere.
It’s best suited for someone always switching between computers – perhaps using a mobile device on the run, then on a desktop computer in the office, and finally on a laptop at home – but needing to work on the same files.
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- Very simple to figure out and use.
- Get a 2GB account completely free.
- Compatible with virtually all operating systems and devices.
- Will only sync files in the Dropbox folder.
- Requires an internet connection to stay updated (whereas flash drives don’t.)
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A Complete Review of DropBox
DropBox is like a “magic box.” When you put your files in the box, they are available anywhere you are.
DropBox is the answer to having to e-mail files to yourself or carry a thumb drive with you at all times – and you can’t forget and leave it sitting on your desk. (The service was originally developed by two MIT students who were sick of facing those problems themselves.)
Dropbox can be used on your computer (Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems,) iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or Blackberry. Their motto is “simplify your life.”
You can get a completely free account with 2GB of storage space if you want to test it out for yourself. Sign-up is quick and easy at DropBox.com.
- Super easy to use.
- Totally free (up to 2GB.)
- Works on virtually any operating system.
- Doesn’t sync your entire computer.
- Won’t eliminate the need for a thumb drive.
Let’s take a closer look at Dropbox…
Getting Started With DropBox
Quite a few backup services claim to be simple to set up, and they are, but Dropbox is super simple!
To sign-up for Dropbox, all you have to do is go to Dropbox.com, click the button where it says “Sign In,” then choose “Create Account.” Once you submit your e-mail address and password, your account is created within 2 seconds and you’re presented with a dialog box to download the latest version of the software.
Once the software is downloaded, it only requires one click to install! Then you sign-in and make a few selections (such as if you want the free 2GB account or a 10GB account upgrade,) and you’re ready to go.
You’ll notice the new Dropbox folder on your desktop, in My Documents, and/or on the Start bar (depending on your Operating System of choice.) They even give you a few sample files (about 1.4 MB worth) in your Dropbox folder to start out with, in order to demonstrate how it works.
If you have any trouble, just watch the video on the Dropbox homepage – it makes sense of everything in just 40 seconds! Or read the “Getting Started” PDF file that’s automatically in your dropbox.
How to Use DropBox
It’s almost too simple to use Dropbox – just drag and drop your files into your Dropbox folder and they do the rest!
Dropbox monitors this folder, and anything you put in there is copied to their server, then available anywhere you use Dropbox (computers, phones, etc.) If you need an up-to-date copy of a file, just log-in to Dropbox. If you put the file in the drop folder on one computer, you’ll find it on all your other ones, too!
If the file has a green check mark beside it, it is up-to-date. If it has blue arrows beside it, that means it is in the process of updating.
If you break or lose a computer (hard drive failure, theft, fire, etc.,) you can still access those files via the Dropbox website. So in that sense, Dropbox does work as an online backup option.
The whole process is even easier than using a thumb drive. I love it for sharing files within my office. I used to email stuff to myself or put it on a thumb drive, just to transfer a file to a computer that’s sitting five feet away from me. With Dropbox, I just drag and drop, walk over to the other computer, and open that new file right out of the Dropbox folder!
The advantage to a thumb drive is when transferring files between computers that aren’t connected to the internet. That’s a distinct advantage, but most of the time I can get an internet connection. In a critical situation, I’d use both the thumb drive and Dropbox to keep my files with me.
Sharing Files With Others
Dropbox makes it easy to share your files with others. You can share entire folders with your group members for collaboration, share individual files with anyone online, and share photo slideshows through the special “Photos” folder.
Sharing Folders with Other Dropbox Users
Folder sharing is great for collaboration on group projects. When you choose to share a folder, the folder will show up in your colleague’s Dropbox folder, and both (or all) of you can add, edit, and delete files within the folder.
You can do this through the Dropbox software interface or online. Within Dropbox, just right-click on a folder, scroll down to the Dropbox submenu, and choose the “Share this folder…” option. Online, you can select a folder then click the “Invite to folder” button, or to start a new folder, go under “Sharing” and click the “New shared folder” button.
Either way, you then enter the e-mail address of the person with whom you’d like to share the folder, and when they accept your invitation, the folder appears inside their Dropbox account, too.
Sharing Files Publicly
To share individual files, which can be shared with anyone online, outside of Dropbox, you just have to generate a link to the file. Then you can share that URL publicly.
On the Dropbox website, you can select a file, then click the “Copy public link” button. In your Dropbox folder, right-click a file, scroll down to the Dropbox menu, and choose “Get link.” This generates a URL. Just share the URL publicly, like in a forum or on Facebook, and people can see or download the file.
July 2012 Update: You used to have to use the “Public” folder if you wanted to share files publicly. But now, that functionality is available throughout the entire drop folder for you to use whenever you want. You don’t need to use the Public folder for anything, really. (Accounts created after July 31, 2012 won’t have the Public folder.)
The “Photos” Folder
One the folders present in your Dropbox upon installation is labeled “Photos.” But it’s more than just an example folder – it actually has some special functionality for storing and sharing photos.
When you store photos in here, preferably organized into sub-folders, using the “Get link” feature will generate a link to an online slideshow of the photos in the folder! This is so much nicer than e-mailing a bunch of attachments to friends and family when you get back from a vacation!
Using DropBox to Recover Deleted Files
If you’re like me, you’ve probably deleted files accidentally or saved changes in a document without realizing those were not the changes you wanted saved! Luckily, for the files synced through Dropbox, you don’t have to worry about this anymore.
Dropbox stores snapshots of every single file version you save, so however you screwed up, you can always revert to a previous version of the file from before the screw up. This is also a great feature in case someone in your group tries to sabotage you by deleting all the files from a shared folder!
Just use the online menu (look under the “More” tab) or right-click on a file within Dropbox and choose “View previous versions…” to find an older version to restore.
The downside is that the old versions are only stored for 30 days, so if you accidentally delete a file and don’t realize it until you look for it a couple months later, you’re out of luck. (That is, unless you upgraded to Dropbox Pro with the available “Packrat” add-on, which stores file versions indefinitely.)
How to Get More Free Space in DropBox
2GB of space can fill up fast, but rather than force you to pay for more, there’s a way to earn more storage space in your free Dropbox account!
Just refer all your friends to Dropbox! I assume quite a few people are already Dropbox members, but if your friends, family, and coworkers have not yet joined, any of them that you refer gets you an extra 500MB of storage space as a “thank you” gesture from Dropbox. Technically you can get up to 18GB space in your free account!
If you do the math, that means you should refer 32 people to get the maximum benefit.
The Dropbox Pro Upgrade
If you still need more space, you can upgrade to Dropbox Pro. 50GB storage costs $9.99 per month and 100GB costs $19.99 per month.
If you are seriously considering the upgrade, I’d urge you to check out SugarSync first – it has more features and is cheaper.
Final Decision on DropBox
What I liked about DropBox:
It’s just so darn simple! It works perfectly for sharing files across every device I own, and it’s impossible to screw it up!
What I did not like about DropBox:
Honestly I can’t complain about anything.
DropBox Review Wrap-Up:
Overall rating: out of 5 stars
Reviewed by: Paul Ryan
Date of original review: July 5, 2012
Date last updated: July 5, 2012
Dropbox is super simple to use, works great, and you don’t have to worry about screwing it up (because it doesn’t give you the chance.) That’s the real beauty of it.
If you want lots of space and extra features, like backing up and syncing your entire computer at the press of a button, a service like SugarSync would be better for you since it combines backup and sync together. But Dropbox has that great simplicity – there’s no reasons not to at least sign up for a free account and try it out. People rave about it for a reason!
Sign-up today at the link below.
Official Site: www.Dropbox.com
Dropbox keeps it simple, with just one real key feature – it lets you access up-to-date copies of your files on any device, anywhere you are. It eliminates the need to e-mail files to yourself or transfer files on a flash drive every time you switch computers.
It does this by placing a “dropbox” on your computer. You can install Dropbox on as many devices as you’d like, and Dropbox will sync the files in your dropbox so every machine has the updated file nearly instantaneously.
Other cool features include private and public file sharing, as well as file versioning.
Ease of Use
It’s so simple that even my parents couldn’t screw it up! Seriously, this is where Dropbox shines. I thought I had seen “simple” before, but I was mistaken.
Installation takes seconds and there’s nothing to configure. You just find the dropbox and place your files in it.
Dropbox does the rest. They monitor this folder. Any files in it are copied to Dropbox’s servers then synced to your other computers.
Just to make sure you know which files need updating and which ones are ready, they use blue arrows and green checkmarks on the icon.
Desktop, Web, and Mobile Access
Dropbox works nearly everywhere. It will work on your iPhone, iPad, Android phone, Blackberry, and even the Kindle Fire. And of course it works on both Windows and Mac operating systems.
Dropbox charges no extra fees for the mobile access. All the apps are available even on the free plan.
Secure file transfer and high-level 256 AES encryption.
File sharing won’t compromise the rest of your account.
Backup Space and Pricing Plans
Start out with a Free account. Gives you 2GB space.
50GB plan costs $9.99/month
100GB plan costs $19.99/month
*Refer friends to earn extra space.
A little more expensive than SugarSync.
Dropbox is awesome because it’s so simple. It does one thing and it does it better than anyone else. SugarSync is definitely a worthy contender, especially if you want more features, but Dropbox has the edge in simplicity.
Because it’s totally free and you have nothing to lose, go ahead and sign up for a free Dropbox account.Try Dropbox For Free
Your account on the Dropbox website:
My photo album:
Getting a link to share a file:
Previous file versions:
File syncing in progress:
Sharing a folder in Dropbox:
Dropbox as seen on the start menu:
The funny Dropbox cartoon:Try Dropbox For Free
Overall rating: out of 5 stars
Reviewed by: Paul Ryan
Date of original review: August 1, 2012
Date last updated: August 14, 2012