Dropbox is a free service delivered by the San Francisco based company of the same name founded in June 2007. The service enters the category of cloud storage service. But what can one do with such a service?
I tried out Dropbox a few months ago and it did really simplify greatly my way of working with documents or sharing them with others. I also found out that people outside the IT world are either not aware of the service or do not know what they can use such a service for.
Ever had the need to access your files from different computers? Ever had to send larger files not fitting in Emails? Ever wanted to share files with friends? Dropbox addresses all these topics and brings a pretty easy and hassle free solution.
It all starts by registering on the website of Dropbox. The basic account gives a storage space of 2GB for free. Once registered, one can use all the features of Dropbox through the web interface, creating folders, uploading files, downloading files, sharing folders,…
But the real change occurs when installing the Dropbox software found on the website. It exists for various platforms, Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android and Blackberry. On Windows, the software adds a Dropbox folder within My Documents and the context menu gets a few extra entries to share the documents.
All it needs is installing the Dropbox application on all computers a user has. Any file added to the Dropbox folder by simple drag and drop will automatically save to all computers and to the Dropbox website as well. One can start writing a document at the office and finish it from home.
As photographer, I do cover events as official photographer. I do prefer to sort and process my photos before submitting them to the organizer. The photos are in general too large to be sent by email, sending them on a CD is neither an option as the organizer needs the photos for the press releases. The Dropbox folder does however provide a Public folder. The files within this folder are available to anyone knowing the link without having to register for Dropbox. I simply deposit a password protected zip file containing the photos into this Public folder and send the link by email to the organizer. The organizer clicks on the link and downloads the zip file.
Apart from the Public folder, the other folders are private. It is however possible to share a folder between a group of Dropbox users as shown here:
This is an ideal way to share documents or photos among a group of friends.
The one and only drawback I encountered so far is with the shared folders. The sharing users are all allowed to add, modify or delete the files within the shared folders and there is no way to know if another user is modifying a file. Some care needs to be taken to avoid problems. Should however something go wrong, Dropbox holds a one month history of your files to be able to go back in time and fix mistakes or rescue deleted files.
Dropbox offers a great service. As photographer, it changed the way I do provide the photos to the organizer of events or customers of my photos. Sharing a folder with friends comes also very handy. The mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry do now allow having the files always at hand if needed. It comes to no surprise that this service started in September 2008 does now count over 45 million users around the world.
Always have your stuff when you need it with @Dropbox. Sign up for free!