Even though it is totally free, Dropbox is one of our very favorite web applications here at Gadgets and Technology News.
We’re constantly surprised though by how many of our readers have never even heard of Dropbox so I decided to write a review to explain what Dropbox is and how you can benefit from it.
In short, Dropbox is a safe and secure disk drive in the sky where you can keep copies of your documents, photos and videos.
To get started with Dropbox, you simply sign up for a free account and download the software to your computer. This then gives you an additional folder (often on your desktop) and any files you put in this folder are automatically saved to your ‘disk drive in the sky’.
So why is this useful?
Here’s just a few ways that we use Dropbox…
1/ A Secure Backup
Too many people have all of their important files, photos etc on their computer but with no backup copy. If your computer dies… and they easily can do … or your hard-drive gets corrupted, then you could lose everything on your computer. All those important holiday photos gone forever as well as emails, downloads and important documents with no way of recovering them.
There are of course lots of ways of creating an automated backup (such as with an external hard drive or an automated online backup service such as our favorite Carbonite) but many don’t want the extra expense of this and so simply don’t have any backup!
With Dropbox, you can simply copy all of your important documents to your Dropbox folder and as if by magic, you have a backup of them ‘in the cloud’ which you can retrieve at any time and from any computer.
2/ Your Files Available to you Anywhere
Not so many years ago most people were lucky to have one computer. These days many people with have all or a selection of a desktop, a laptop or netbook, an iPad or other tablet, and an iPhone or other Smartphone (which is essentially a tiny but powerful computer).
So, what happens if you have a file on your desktop computer but need it on your iPad or iPhone? Again this is where Dropbox comes in!
Once you have your free Dropbox account you can download the software onto any computer or laptop, and access your files from there. There are also apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Blackberry so you can access your files from there too. And with the Dropbox website you can even access your files from any computer anywhere in the world as long as you can get internet access.
3/ Share Files with One Person or Lots of People
If you have a number of photos or large files that you need to send to a friend then what do you do? Many people will try to email them but often email hosts have a 10MB limit and it can take ages to do too. Maybe you could put them on a CD or memory stick …. but not so easy if your friend lives hundreds of miles away!
With Dropbox, you have two options:
1/ Within the Dropbox folder on your computer you can create a subfolder that you can easily and securely give access to your friend (or a number of friends). Any files you add to this subfolder will be accessible to them immediately and they can also add files to the folder on their computer that will be accessible to you.
It’s perfectly secure though, as only the person or people that you have given authority to will be able to access the subfolder and of course they will only be able to access that subfolder and not anything you put in your other Dropbox folders.
2/ Within your Dropbox folder there is a subfolder called ‘Public’. If for example you put a photo in this subfolder and then right-mouse-clicked on it, you would be given a public link to that photo. For example, here’s a public link to the Gadgets and Technology News logo: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1360536/New-Gadgets-Logo200w.jpg Once you have this link, you can give it to anyone you like and they will be able to download that file. You could for example, email the link to a number of friends so they could download your photo.
So there are three great uses for Dropbox. There are certainly more that you’ll discover when you join but I think that’s plenty to get you started. It’s totally free so please do give Dropbox a try… we know you’ll love it as much as we do!
As we said Dropbox is totally free for up to 2GB of storage space but we’ve got a special link that will give you a further 250MB of space for free too.