Dropbox is a free and easy to use application and website, which allows you to sync your files from your computer or phone to “the cloud” and therefore access them from anywhere. However it is more than a simple back-up solution, with Dropbox you can share folders, collaborate on files or even set up online photo galleries. For a teacher Dropbox means you never have to stress about leaving work at home or losing your thumb drive ever again.
The beauty of Dropbox is that you don’t even really notice it on your computer. Upon downloading and installing the application, which is compatible with Windows, Macs, Linux and most popular smart phones, a Dropbox folder is created on your local hard-drive.
The thing that makes this folder special is that anything which is placed in this folder gets uploaded to the Dropbox servers, aka “the cloud.” These files are then accessible from any computer with the internet, via the Dropbox website or via any mobile phone that has the free Dropbox app installed. If a large file gets interrupted from uploading, for example you turn of your pc, then the upload resumes next time you turn your pc back on.
Dropbox also makes it easy to share and collaborate with workmates or friends. Simply right click on any folder, select the Dropbox sharing options and “Invite collaborators to this folder” by typing in peoples email addresses. Once they have signed up to Dropbox, they can then view any files you place in the share folder. You can work on a document together or even create a photo gallery for friends.
Dropbox uses SSL for secure transfers and all files are encrypted with AES-256 before being stored on their servers. This means your files can not be seen by others unless you make a folder public or share a folder. Only the contents of the folder you share can be seen by the person you invite, the remaining folders and files are hidden from them.
Ease of use
Everything about Drobbox is designed to be simple. The homepage is keep very basic with an easy to unserstand video, a logo and a button to download dropbox. The sign up process takes seconds as does the download and installation of the application. As mentioned above you barely notice the small dropbox folder sitting in your tray, but it’s working all the time to sync and backup any important file you drop inside.
Dropbox gives users 2GB of free online storage upon sign up and the smart phone apps are free to download. This is more than enough if you want to back up your office documents with the occasional picture, video or audio file thrown in. They also offer extra storage for referring friends to use Dropbox.
Once you realise how easy Dropbox is to use and how useful it is to have your important files permanently accessible and backed up, you may consider paying for a Pro account. For US$9.99 per month you have access to 50GB of storage space and for US$19.99 a month the amount goes up to 100GB.
Think about it, for the price of 3 coffees a week you can have all your photos, music and documents always at hand and backed up in “the cloud” in case anything ever goes wrong with your computer.
You can email questions for support and there is an active forum, but unfortunately there is no telephone or chat support available. To be honest the website and application are simple to navigate and well laid out, so 99.5% of people will not need personal support. But if you pay for a Pro Plan, then it’s nice to feel that instant help is available at a time of crisis.
Everybody knows that you should back up your files regularly. But how many people make an effort to do it more than once or twice a year. That’s the beauty of Dropbox, you don’t have to make an effort. By putting your files in the Dropbox folder it automatically syncs to their servers while you work. The fact that all my important files, photos, music and a few movies are always accessible from my iphone and any web browser is a big added bonus.