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REVIEW of Dropbox by Eric Byron
Dropbox is a Cloud Storage Service that enables you to synchronize your files across multiple platforms. It does so through the use of the Dropbox application and the Dropbox website. There are a range of storage plans which start at the free 2 GB version and end with a 500 GB version for $499 per year.
Users can sign up for Dropbox here. The process is quick and the download for the application shouldn’t take more than a minute or two. Once installed, the application will add a folder on to your Mac or PC labelled Dropbox.
The Dropbox folder acts like any other folder on your system with the addition that it will synchronise the files across your Dropbox account. The service is ideal for anyone working on multiple computers or devices. A file created or edited on one system will be available to you anywhere you go.
The downloaded application will put a Dropbox icon in your tray with a symbol on top that indicates different things. A green tick means everything is updated, a rotating arrow means it is currently updating and the absence of a symbol means you have no internet connection.
If you happen to lose your internet connection Dropbox will simply wait for it to come back before updating automatically. In the meantime your files are still safe on your computer. You can continue to edit the file it just won’t upload to Dropbox until there’s a connection.
While the application is by far the easiest way of using Dropbox, the website is always available to you. Let’s say you are at someone else’s computer and wish to show them one of your files. All you have to do is go to the Dropbox website and login.
All the files are there for you to view and download. If you want to make changes to the file whilst still keeping your Dropbox up-to-date, the file can be uploaded to the website when you are done.
There is also the option to link to your files and folders. Dropbox will open a window allowing you to either e-mail, Tweet the link or put it on Facebook. Alternatively it can copy the URL to your clipboard for you to paste wherever you want.
Be careful of where you paste the link however, as anyone who has it can view your file. It would have been nice to see various privacy settings for this as Google Drive does when doing the same thing.
Also on the website are your settings, account info and the security tab. In security you can view which devices have been used to access your account as well as the web browsers currently logged in to your Dropbox.
Dropbox doesn’t just have to be for you personal files, it can be also be a highly useful business tool.
If you don’t like the idea of using links, it’s possible for you to invite people to share folders with you. There is no need for a second “work” account, simply create a folder for work use and invite the necessary people to share it with you.
People will only be able to see what you share with them. This means your work folder can sit comfortably with your private, personal folders without any worry.
When sharing you go through a series of e-mails between sender and recipient that can feel a little long-winded. It requires both parties to click approval and acceptance links. But once done the folder is available for everyone to use.
If someone is sharing with you, all that will happen is that their folder will appear in your Dropbox for you to use as if you had made it yourself.
One thing to be wary of however, is to make sure everyone knows what they can edit and delete. If something is changed on one person’s computer, Dropbox will automatically synchronise so that the changes happen for everyone.
Another thing to bear in mind are storage limits. If one person has paid for a 500 GB plan whilst someone else is only on the free one, the second person might find themselves hitting their smaller limit sooner than they expected.
It would be nice to be able to change permission settings to limit what people can do with the shared folder. But for now, communication with the people you’re sharing with is essential.
Storage Limits and Prices
On the very low end of Storage sizes is the free 2GB version. This can be increased to 18GB if you refer enough people to the service (500MB for every friend that signs up and downloads the app). For anyone working primarily on text documents, this is more than sufficient.
The other options are:
- 100 GB for $99 a year (or $9.99 monthly)
- 200 GB for $199 a year (or $19.99 monthly)
- 500 GB for $499 a year (or $49.99 monthly)
In addition to this, Dropbox offer a “Dropbox for teams”. It starts at 1 TB for 5 users for $795 a year and goes up to a plan for 50+ users.
The Team packages include extra features, including phone support, something not seen on the Pro accounts (which only have e-mail support). An administrator also has a certain level of control. They can create other admin accounts, view storage usage and control who has access to what.
On the Go
The Dropbox app is available for free on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Kindle Fire. You can view your files and edit them so long as you have the appropriate apps to view them with. On the iPhone and iPad you can upload photos and videos taken on the device.
The mobile apps are easy to find in the various marketplaces and just as easy to set up as it is for your computer.
Depending on which platform you’re using, the interface and usability might vary. For example, on Android your files won’t synch automatically but they must be uploaded. And on the iPad, photos might suffer a loss in quality as Dropbox downsizes the files.
In some instances it might be best to use the mobile app for viewing only and perform the majority of editing on your home or work computer.
There are cheaper Cloud Storage Services out there but Dropbox just makes life so easy. And if you don’t need more than 2GB, you really can’t argue with the free version.