We realized recently that we’ve made a huge mistake by not adopting and advocating Dropbox long ago. Here’s how the service works.
Install the client. You’ll find a “My Dropbox” directory in your documents folder, wherever that may be. Anything you put in this folder is automatically and immediately synchronized on the Dropbox server. If you have Dropbox installed on any other computer, it’s immediately updated there as well.
Not content with simple and secure synchronization, Dropbox provides the ability to share. A very convenient web interface lets you login from a web browser and have immediate access to all the files in your Dropbox. You have the ability to provide links to allow others to view the content you specify, and Dropbox has a very nice picture gallery system for any photos. You also have the ability to see previous versions of your files as well as restore deleted files.
The service is cross-platform. We’re currently using it on 2 Vista machines, 4 Linux machines, Windows XP and a Windows 7 installation. Each of these 8 computers has the same files, and a change to any of these files is nearly instantly replicated on each of the others.
The service offers 2 GB for free. 50 GB costs $100 per year and 100 GB costs $200 per year. As a backup tool, it’s not quite as cost effective as Carbonite or, our new favorite set-it-and-forget-it backup tool Mozy, but neither of those services offers painless synchronization across computers nor the ability to share and have web access to your files.
We’re going to reiterate the power of this service. If you’re working on a file on the desktop at your office and have to go home, you don’t have to worry about copying the file to your laptop or netbook. Simply save the document in the Dropbox directory and it’s automatically on your portable device and the computer at your house. If you’re going to a meeting and need the file on the computer that’s running the projector, simply login to getdropbox.com and access it over the Internet.
If you have more than one computer, or if you would like the ability to access certain files from anywhere very quickly via a browser, Dropbox is a no-brainer.