What is Dropbox? It’s is an easy way to store and share photos, documents, spreadsheets, and other types of computer files, using a PC, tablet, or mobile device. Much like the introduction of email, digital photography, and low-rise athletic socks, once you get the hang of Dropbox, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.
Dropbox works by keeping identical copies of selected files on your computer(s) and Dropbox’s cloud-based storage system, and automatically synchronizing them over an encrypted Internet connection. I’ve bolded automatically synchronizing, because this is the killer feature of Dropbox, something that will save lots of time and streamline collaboration. It’s cited repeatedly in my unofficial Dropbox guide.
What does Dropbox’s automatic syncing feature enable? Here are some common scenarios:
- Mark uses Dropbox to share a folder full of documents with his coworkers, so they can work on spreadsheets and other documents together.
- Jennifer backs up the photos that she takes on her iPhone, without using cables. Once the Dropbox app is installed on her phone, the photos and movies taken with her phone are automatically transferred to Dropbox’s Camera Uploads folder, which she can immediately access on her laptop or any other PC or device that has Dropbox installed (for more information, see What is Camera Uploads, and how to manage photos in Dropbox).
- Chris instantly backs up the files he’s working on in Dropbox. If his computer crashes, he can easily recover them.
Besides automatic syncing, another advantage of Dropbox is it follows the same conventions that people already use to save files, create folders, and move stuff around on their computers. This means your Dropbox data will always appear in the familiar “My Computer” (Windows) or Finder (Mac) on your computer.
Dropbox is a great collaboration tool. It’s easy to share links to folders or files, or give permission to other people to modify files — useful if a team scattered across many offices or cities is collaborating on a report.
Dropbox In 30 Minutes explains not only how to get started, but also highlights the most valuable features, best tips and hidden time-savers that will help you get the most out of Dropbox. Buy a copy of the Dropbox book for the Kindle or iPad, download the PDF for easy printing, or purchase a copy of the paperback. If you want to download the Dropbox application for your PC, visit Dropbox.com.