Dropbox is an application that allows you to sync your files online and across your computers automatically. It creates a special folder on your computer. Anything you place in that folder is automatically synced to your Dropbox account.
It’s easily the most important tool for my day-to-day work flow. Here’s how Dropbox benefits me.
Sync Files Between Two Computers
If it were up to me I’d only ever use one computer. But like most people who work in an office for a living I have a computer at work and a computer at home. It used to be a pain to have to transport files back and forth on a flash drive all the time. It didn’t feel that secure either. What if I lost it? Even if I had a backup, how recent was it?
I now keep all the files I need to get at regularly in Dropbox. Whether I’m at work or at home I know I’ll have access to the files I’ll need. It doesn’t matter what operating system you use on each system either. My work computer is a PC; my home computer is a Mac (there’s even a Linux version of Dropbox). Plus, Dropbox even allows you to undelete files that were previously synced in its folder. It also allows you to “roll back” to a previous version of a document if you decide you need an earlier draft for some reason.
For full disclosure, I am a system administrator where I work and I had permission to install Dropbox to my work PC. Find your sysadmin where you work and ask if you can have Dropbox on your work computer. Refer them to this features page if they’re concerned about privacy and security.
Sync Files Between a Computer and Smart Phone
Dropbox has free apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, and Android. I’ve used the one for iPhone and it’s great. One common way I find myself using this app is in the grocery store. I have a few recipes stored in a subfolder in my Dropbox. I’m pretty good about knowing what I do and don’t have in my kitchen, but I’m terrible about remembering all the ingredients to a recipe. This way I can pull it up in front of me, double check that I have what I need, and not get stuck making an extra trip to the store later.
Sync Files for Web Access and Sharing
Let’s say you only have one computer and your cell phone isn’t a smart phone. You still have a good reason to use Dropbox so you can access your important files from the Dropbox web interface. Plus you can setup subfolders within your Dropbox folder as “shared folders.” Let’s say you and a friend both have a Dropbox account. You can share a folder from your account to your friend’s account to make it easier to share files with them. My parents did this with my sister while she was studying abroad to more easily give her maps and information of the places she was headed to next.
Lots of Apps Work with Dropbox
2GB for Free!
Your Dropbox account starts out at 2GB, but you can expand it from there. There are free ways to expand it, of which I’ve taken advantage. My account is now up to 10GB as of the writing of this tutorial. You can earn up to 8GB of additional storage space for free. You can also pay to expand your account. 50GB runs you $9.99/month or $99/year. 100GB costs $19.99/month or $199/year.