Easy File-Sharing with Dropbox

Last week, I wrote about how to easily back up your computer files to the cloud using Carbonite. This week, I would like to talk about another one of my favorite Internet-based products.

Dropbox is a free program that enables you to store files in the cloud so that you can (1) make them available to all of your computing devices, and (2) easily share them with others.

When you go to the Dropbox website and install the program on your computer, it creates a “Dropbox” folder wherever you keep your documents and files.  (For example, I use Windows XP, and the Dropbox folder is inside “My Documents.”  My husband uses a Mac running OS X, and his Dropbox folder shows up in his “Places” list.)

But that Dropbox folder is really just a copy of your Dropbox account in the cloud.  Every time you change a document that is in your Dropbox folder, within minutes the version stored in the cloud will be updated as well.  And within minutes after that, any other computer that shares that document is updated, too.

Suppose you have a computer at work, and another one at home.  Using Dropbox, you can ensure that any files you want to access from both places are accessible to you,  and that any changes you make to those files are available no matter where you’ve made the changes.  You can even access Dropbox from your smart phone.

That means no more e-mailing files to yourself, or having to copy files back and forth between your computers and a USB drive.

Another great feature of Dropbox is the ability to share files with others.  Tell Dropbox which folders you want to share, and with whom, and it will send an e-mail address to those folks with an invitation to create a Dropbox account and install it on their computers.

Here’s a complete list of the Dropbox features from their web site:

  • 2GB of Dropbox for free, with subscriptions up to 100GB available.
  • Your files are always available from the secure Dropbox website.
  • Dropbox works with  Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.
  • Works even when offline.  You always have your files, whether or not you have a connection.
  • Dropbox transfers just the parts of a file that change (not the whole thing).
  • Manually set bandwidth limits — Dropbox won’t hog your connection.

About that 2GB that you get for free:  for every person you invite to Dropbox who joins and installs it, you both get 250MB free (up to 8 GB).  If you need more, you can pay $99 per year for 50GB, or $199 per year for 100GB.

Concerned about file security?  Here’s another list from their site:

  • Dropbox keeps a one-month history of your work.
  • Any changes can be undone, and files can be undeleted.
  • All transmission of file data occurs over an encrypted channel (SSL).
  • All files stored on Dropbox are encrypted (AES-256).
  • Dropbox employees are unable to view user files.

As a Professional Organizer, I’m always looking for ways to make my life simpler — and my clients’ lives as well.  Dropbox is one way that I’ve made that happen.

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