Dropbox is the ultimate solution for anyone wishing to backup their files, share them across a range of computers or access them anywhere via the web – and the best part is that it’s free! I know I’m late to the game (I’ve been using Windows Home Server to share files over the web) but this solution is so much more elegant. I just started using it a couple of days ago so thought I’d write a review to share my experiences.
Supported on Windows, Linux and Mac, it basically creates a folder on your computer, automatically syncing anything in it to a secure location on the web, updating files as soon as they change. These files are easily accessed via the website and will immediately update on any computer you’ve installed Dropbox on. It really is as good as it sounds, bet you’ve wanted something like this for ages yes?
Not only that but you can share specific folders with friends, fantastic if you have a project you’re working on. The whole system completely removes the hassle of emailing files around, or juggling pen drives with all of your documents on them.
Another thing, something I completely missed on my first pass, was the ability to change files back to previous versions. The free account only allows you to go back 30 days (still seems like a long way to me) but there is an option to buy an unlimited account. When it comes to saving different versions of a file under different names I’m notoriously bad, it’s great to be able to go back to a previous after you’ve changed something for the worst and the accidentally saved the file. Not something you’ll use everyday but it certainly comes in useful.
So how does it work? Well first off I should tell you that they have 3 pricing options, the first of which is free! This option gives you 2 GB of space (upgraded by 250 MB if you follow my referral link and again (up to a limit of 3GB every time you refer someone else, everyone wins!). The other two options are pro 50 and pro 100, basically increasing your allotted storage to 50 or 100 GB for $9.99 or $19.99 per month respectively. I’m only interested in the free version as I can still get larger files through my server solution. Even so 3 GB is more than enough to keep your text and work files in, just maybe not fantastic for media like images, music and video.
Set up is easy, simply go to their website, sign up with your name, email and chosen password then download the program. The file is small (only 12 MB) and installation takes seconds, all you have to choose is where you’d like your Dropbox folder to be. I chose (as I imagine most people will) the default positioning (within the My Documents folder).
That’s it, you’re done! All you have to do now is add files to the folder, bearing in mind that they’re not synced to the web until you get the green tick on the Dropbox icon. Now if you install it on other computers, or simply go to the website, you’ll be able to access all of your files.
So there you have it, in the space of 5 minutes you can sign up and start a backup of all your important documents. This is how cloud computing should be implemented, I now have the same My Documents folder no matter where I am. How fantastic is that!
The only downside I can think of is if you’re constantly changing machine you’re going to have to re-download your entire Documents folder and awful lot. Now if you only upload text documents and have a colossal internet connection this may not be a problem, but I can envisage a fair amount of waiting about for some people. Certainly much more than they’d get with a pen drive. Having said this though how many people are constantly using different computers which aren’t on the same network, I can’t imagine it’s many. My suggestion for anyone that does is to just use the website, it isn’t worth downloading everything all the time if you don’t need to.
As you can tell from my review I certainly feel that Dropbox is worth a try. Why on earth shouldn’t you, it’s free! I think you’ll find it makes your life so much easier, never having to worry about where you documents are and if they’re backed up really takes a weight off your mind. Add to this the ability to share folders with friends or colleagues, plus the ability to go back through file history and it just looks better and better.
So what do you think, already tried it or have started recently after reading this? Let me know in the comments below, it’s always nice to hear people’s opinions and questions.