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Dropbox rocks! File Syncing, Sharing, and Backup Extraordinaire!

Dropbox is a software product that makes it easy to securely share files with other people, sync them across multiple computers, access them from anywhere, and keep them safe. - TechCrunch.com (crunchbase.com profile)


Dropbox logo

Some will argue that file syncing solutions are ubiquitous. And though somewhat true, typical file sync solutions prove challenging for the average user. Dropbox changes this. It’s an elegant application, and an elegant web interface, for managing, syncing, and sharing files. Available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, the small app download installs Dropbox on your computer and has you up and running in minutes. That’s it; download, install, create an account, and you’re done ñ in minutes you can be syncing and sharing files.

The simplicity is the marvel.

The installation creates a “directory” on your hard drive, generally in your user’s directory. To start “syncing files” simply drop a file or directory into this Dropbox folder. That’s it. Those files will begin uploading (syncing) to the Dropbox server. After which, if you’ve installed Dropbox on multiple computers (for instance on a home computer too) it’ll download the new files to the other computer. Your files then exist in three places, but they’re synchronized. Edit a file in one place and that change will propagate to the other locations. Best of all, Dropbox employs a “Delta-Style” update, that is, it only “uploads” what’s changed in your file. So if you edit a small portion of a 300mb file - it’ll only upload a fraction of the file and sync the change to all the other locations. Better yet, it also “archives” versions of your files. So if you accidentally delete a file or edit the wrong one…no problem, you can revert or restore an earlier version. 

But there’s more

By default, the Dropbox folder will also have a “public” and “photos” directory within it. Each of these is a special folder that makes Dropbox even more fantastic. The Photos directory allows you to drag and drop a folder from your hard drive into it - and in moments (depending on the image sizes) you can share the public URL of these files via email, and anyone can view or download your images. Add sub-directories and organize files as you’d like - they sync online and to your other linked Dropbox computers. It’s the simplest way to share photos I’ve ever seen.

The Public folder allows you to instantly share any type of file with others. Drop a zip archive in the Public folder and you can “right click” to obtain a URL - paste this link in an email and the recipient can click the link to download or view the file.

Sharing is super easy

But syncing private files, displaying photos, and distributing files is only part of the story. Working on a collaborative project? Have each team member install Dropbox - then create a folder inside your Dropbox folder - right mouse click to “share” this directory with others. It’ll launch the website - you can then invite others to share this folder and its content. They can open, edit, add, and delete the files. All the while, you’re notified as are the other team members. It’s a quick and painless distributed working environment. And best of all, large files are “sync’d” and stored locally - and only the changes are then sync’d back to others. So you’re not hogging your bandwidth (or theirs).

Access Your Files Anywhere

Dropbox not only syncs your files and automatically backs up your files. It also makes them available anywhere. Their nicely designed website allows complete control and manipulation of files. So you can always get to the files you need or to those someone has shared with you. Dropbox even has a nifty Dropbox iPhone app that allows you to access your files from your iPhone.

Dropbox isn’t flawless, but it’s damn close

Dropbox isn’t perfect, but then again… what software is? But it’s a very young company and it’s improving rapidly. Well funded by venture capitalists, and growing at a rapid pace, it will certainly catch the eyes of the digerati and tech savvy - if it hasn’t already. But it will explode when the masses discover how easy it is and how simple it is to backup, sync, and share their files. Dropbox is simply unrivaled in it’s simplicity and elegance - and it works.

Dropbox is one of those fantastic technologies that seems so simple, so mundane, but has the power to explode and become huge. Face it, everyone knows they should backup their computer files. And everyone wants to share photos quickly. And everyone at some time or another wants to share files with family, friends, or coworkers. Dropbox makes this all easy to do. It’s damn near transparent. I see the potential for the phrase “I’ll dropbox that to you” to become part of our lexicon someday. Oh…and did I neglect to mention, you can try Dropbox for FREE. They offer 2Gb to start - no cost. So what are you waiting for? Download Dropbox, refer a friend, then “dropbox” them something.


Author note: My only unfounded fear, since I’ve fallen in love with Dropbox, is that Google will buy them (not that it’s a bad thing). I’ve simply stumbled into a pattern, I discover a cool new or innovative software or web service ñ start to use it - and shortly there after, Google buys them. It started with Urchin Analytics (became Google Analytics), then Postini (became Google Email Filtering), and recently ReCaptcha. I guess we both know good things when we seem them. But actually, if I could get my way, I’d like for Apple to buy Dropbox…this type of sync is what MobileMe & the iDisk should offer and be….this is Apple-like design and simplicity. It’s not everyday that Apple gets out Appled. Oh well, one can hope anyway.

Oct 02, 2009
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