The Drudgery of Data
Many of us have multiple electronic devices: laptop computers, desktop computers, smartphones, and more. Each gadget has its own set of files and photos and sharing between them requires emailing or a USB drive or a shared network that may or may not be an option. How often do you wish you could access a photo that is on your PC when you are away from your desk? Or what about needing a folder on your PC that you created on your laptop? These things happen every day and can leave us frustrated and angry. That’s why we need Dropbox.
What’s a Dropbox?
Dropbox is a software package that uses cloud computing to store users’ data online so that it can be shared with multiple devices. Cloud computing in this case, if you aren’t familiar with the term, is a type of storage in a “cloud” – meaning somewhere other than on your devices. Information, data, photos, or whatever a user wants, is uploaded to the cloud. It may then be accessed by the user from wherever they are on whichever device they happen to have handy. Dropbox uses this type of cloud computing to store your data.
What Happens in the Cloud
Let’s say you’re working on a proposal for a job on your desktop computer. You’re going to need it later, but obviously you can’t take your computer with you to a meeting. You finish working and upload the file to Dropbox, grab your computer, and head offsite to your meeting. Once there, you connect to the Internet with your laptop and retrieve the file from Dropbox. Any changes to the file are synced across all of your devices.
Any type of file may be uploaded to Dropbox. Size limits are determined by the type of plan you have. Windows, Linux, and Mac computers are all supported.
Money Buys Space
There are three plans for Dropbox users. The Basic Plan is free and includes 2GB of space; Pro50 has 50GB of space and costs $9.99/month; Pro100 includes 100GB of space and costs $19.99/month. The free plan will likely meet the needs of those using Dropbox for personal data. The other two plans offer significantly more storage and therefore are geared toward heavy data users or businesses.
That’s All Fine, But Does it Work?
In a word: Yes. Users can store and sync files, share files with custom permissions for access, automatically backup files with the added ability to restore previous versions, search Dropbox files, create folders for sharing by invitation only, and access files from iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, or Android mobile devices. The backup feature is very good and users can control bandwidth usage. The 30 day undo history feature is handy and paid plans include a “pack rat” unlimited undo history for accounts. The mobile device sharing works well with remote access via free application. SSL security for transfers and file encryption is standard for all uploaded data. The only downside is that help is only available via online support ticket. Live chat or telephone support would be a welcome addition.
Dropbox is an outstanding package for cloud file sharing. I do not hesitate to recommend it. Start with the free plan to evaluate your storage needs and