Many people have a love/hate relationship with the Cloud. They love how the Cloud allows them to back up their data and access their files from anywhere they have an Internet connection. But they hate that they can’t access the Cloud when they’re away from the Internet. Some people swear by saving their data locally on their computer. But when their computer crashes or they’re away from their computer, they wish they had saved their data to the Cloud.
Dropbox gives you the best of both worlds, local storage plus Cloud storage together. Dropbox is an online storage service that allows you to store documents, photos, music, PDF’s, videos and other files on their computers. But what makes Dropbox even more useful is that Dropbox automatically syncs your files to other computers on your account every time you save them.
Why You Should Want Dropbox
1. It’s Free
Dropbox gives you 2 GB of free storage space when you sign up. That’s not a lot but you can earn additional free storage space by:
- signing up using a referral from an existing Dropbox user
- referring others to Dropbox
- taking a tour of the Dropbox website
- connecting with Dropbox on Twitter and Facebook
- sharing a Dropbox file with others
As of last week, you can get an extra 500 mb of space on Dropbox for free by automatically uploading your photos from your Android phone to Dropbox. You can find out more information here: Dropbox Blog.
University students and graduates can double the amount of free space they get from Dropbox for each new referral. Connect your .edu email address to Dropbox to take advantage of this benefit: Dropbox .edu
If you need more space, Dropbox offers paid upgrades of 50 GB for $9.99/month or $99/year and 100 GB for $19.99/month or $199/year. If you need more than 100 GB of storage space, Dropbox has other plans available as well.
2. Access to Dropbox Files
With Dropbox you can have instant access to your files from almost anywhere. Dropbox can sync with your computers, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices. No need to wait for your files to upload, they’ll be stored locally on your computers automatically when they’re added to Dropbox. No need for a thumb drive, Dropbox can transfer your files for you.
3. App Integration
The folks at Dropbox have done a great job of making sure that a wide variety of apps and software programs sync with Dropbox. Apps such as EasySign, Evernote, and many others offer this feature.
4. Online Backup
You know you should back up your computer’s files regularly, but few of us take the time to do regular backups. By using Dropbox to store your files, you automatically back up your files to the Cloud and other computers every time you save a file. If your computer crashes or your phone goes through the spin cycle of your washing machine, your files are preserved.
5. Group Share
Dropbox allow you to share files with others. Log in to your Dropbox account and click on Files => Share a Folder. You can then share an existing folder or create a new one and send it to another Dropbox user. This feature is very handy for working on group projects. No more emailing documents among team members, wondering which version is the correct one. Dropbox updates files in real time so everyone can access the same version of the file. You can also share a file with the world using an unsecured “Public” file that can be accessed from a link.
Disadvantages of Dropbox
Dropbox isn’t perfect. Last year the site had security issues that caused some people to question how secure data was on Dropbox. If you need to store sensitive files on Dropbox, you can use a third-party service such as TrueCrypt to protect your data with an additional layer of encryption.
Dropbox has strong competition from other services offering Cloud storage, including SugarSync, Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s new SkyDrive, Box.net and others. Some of these services offer more free storage space, but Dropbox has integration with more apps and other services, as well as features such as ease of use that make it a very popular site.
If you’re looking for combining the convenience of storing your files in the Cloud with the benefits of accessing them locally, check out Dropbox.
Do you store your files locally on your computer or in the Cloud? Do you like the idea of having files stored in both places? Do you use Dropbox? Let us know in the Comments section below! (Note: if you would like to try Dropbox, you can use this link: Sign Up for Dropbox which will give you and me more free storage.)
* Keyboard image by Johan Larsson