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January 10, 2010

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Dropbox Is a File Storage, Syncing and Collaboration Tool

Dropbox Is an Awesome Cloud Application

Posted by Scoroncocolo January 10, 2010

Dropbox Is a File Storage, Syncing and Collaboration ApplicationIn 2008 Dropbox won a Crunchie for being runner-up to FriendFeed for Best New Startup. This year Dropbox won a Crunchie for Best Internet Application. Congratulations Dropbox!

Back on September 27 of last year, I posted a piece on How to Backup Your Files to the Cloud for Free. In that article I listed a number of Cloud storage applications that offered free storage space. Since that time, I've received dozens of emails from readers who've asked why I failed to mention Dropbox when I listed Cloud storage providers offering free versions of their software. I want to thank all of you who wrote to me about Dropbox. At the time I wrote that piece I had never heard of Dropbox. And now, after having formularized myself with this wonderful product, I can see that Dropbox is so different and in some ways so superior to most of the other cloud storage applications out there that Dropbox deserves it own page on the Scoroncocolo Tech Pages.

Dropbox, File Syncing, Collaboration and Cloud Computing

Dropbox Is a File Syncing and Collaboration Tool

What makes Dropbox so special? Well for one thing it not only stores your files safely on Dropbox's servers, it also synchronizes copies of those files on all of your other computers. When you sign up for a free account with Dropbox, a special Dropbox folder will appear on your Desktop or in your Documents folder depending on where you instruct the program to place it. Any file you drag and drop into that special Dropbox folder will be uploaded to Dropbox's servers. It will also be sent to the Dropbox folder of all of the other of your computers on which you have installed Dropbox. Let me restate that as simply as I can. You install Dropbox on all of your computers. A Dropbox icon will be placed on all of your computers and anytime you drag and drop anything in to the special Dropbox folder it will almost instantly appear in the Dropbox folders of all of your other computers. Wow! But keep reading because there are a lot more amazing things that Dropbox can do for you that will making storing (backing-up) files, synchronizing and sharing files easier to do than you ever imagined.

Here's something else really cool about Dropbox, you can drop a folder full of files into Dropbox and it deals with that just as smoothly as if that folder were a file. That's something that most cloud based Synchronizing or storage applications, like Windows Live Sync or SkyDrive for instance, can't do. What's more Dropbox is a cross platform application that works with Windows, Mac, and Linux too!

More About How Dropbox Works

Dropbox is loaded with other features as well. Click to open Dropbox on your home computer and click open a file that's stored there. You can edit that file and save your changes and the same file if it's stored in your Dropbox folder on your office machine will almost instantly reflect those changes. But Dropbox not only synchronizes your files, it versions them too. What does that mean? Let's say you make some changes to a file that later you wish you hadn't made. No problem. Dropbox allows you to revert to an older version of that file. Or let's say that you accidentally delete a file. Well you can easily get it back because Dropbox always keeps a backup of deleted documents. To get back deleted files or to revert to older versions of files stored in your Dropbox, you need only sign into your account at

Another really cool feature is Dropbox's ability to allow other Dropbox users to share folders within their Dropbox folder with you. And naturally, you can share with anyone else who uses Dropbox. Here's how that works. Inside your Dropbox folder there will be, by default, a folder named Public. Just drag any file you want to share into that folder. Then open the Public folder and right-click the file and click Copy Public Link from the pop-up menu. That copies the URL to that file to your clipboard so that you can then paste it into an email or blog post. It will look something like this: In fact that is a link to a file in my Public folder that I'm sharing with you. It's a list of Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts. Just copy and paste that URL into any browser and you can access that file. You don't even have to have a Dropbox account!

Collaborating on Projects Using Dropbox

You can share the contents of any folder you create in your Dropbox folder. The person you share with must have Dropbox installed in order to be able to edit the files in the shared folder. Just right-click the folder you want to share and click Share This Folder in the pop-up menu. You will then be taken to a page on Dropbox's server where you will see the following:

Sharing this folder will allow other users to collaborate with you on its contents. You can invite your collaborators using the form below.

So, it's that easy to work together on projects with other people using Dropbox. The changes they make will appear on your copies of the files in that shared folder. Then you can re-edit them and they will instantly see the changes and/or additions you made. But remember, you can always get an earlier version of the files by logging onto your account at Now, is that cool or what?

Using Dropbox to Share Photos with Friends

When you install Dropbox on all of your computers, by default there will be a sub-folder in all of your Dropbox folders called Photos. There will even be a pre-installed sub-folder in that sub-folder called Sample Album with three neat pics in it. But disregard that and create a new folder inside the Photos Folder and give it a name. Now drag some pictures into it that you would like to share with some friends or the entire world. Once you have some photos in this new folder, right-click it and in the pop-up menu choose to Share This Folder or your can choose Copy Public Gallery Link. If you click on the Copy Public Gallery Link the URL to that folder will be placed on your clipboard which will allow you to paste it in an email or any other document, like a blog or a Website. It will look like this: This is a folder filled with four photos I took over the 2009 Holidays. If you copy and paste this URL into a browser you will be able to view these photos in a Gallery format. Go ahead, try it. You don't have to have a Dropbox account to view this photo gallery. And like everything with Dropbox it just works. It works seamlessly and very very fast!

(Of course I could make that URL hot using some HTML like this.)

Dropbox Is a File Syncing and  Collaboration Tool

Use Dropbox to Share and Work On Files with Others

Remember sending photos like these as email attachments? Wow! This is so much easier not only for you but for Grandma too, or your boss or whoever you want to send graphic files to for whatever reason. Sure you can email links to a Picasa folder or Flicker. There's lots of ways to link to photos in an email without relying on attachments but dragging photos into a Sub-folder of your Dropbox folder and then sending a link to that folder is by far the simplest way I know of to package and send a large number of graphic files. Plus, your photos will display in an attractive gallery framework.

Take a look at the above video but be sure to come back here to find out more about how to use Dropbox.

Collaboration In the Cloud

One of the most powerful things about Cloud computing is the ability it allows for collaboration. There are many applications in the Cloud that offer a way for people to work together simultaneously on a single document even though these people may be separated by great distances. Recently, I wrote about how two or more people could use Google Wave to collaborate on format-rich text documents to which image files, videos and even audio files could be incorporated (drag and drop). Of course there are a great many enterprise (business-related) programs that allow this capability, but they're expensive and Google Wave costs nothing to use and neither does Dropbox, by the way. Awhile back I wrote about another free-to-use Cloud application, Windows Live Mesh, that allowes for simultaneous collaboration. In October of last year, Google rolled out Shared Folders in Google Docs. I've yet to look into it myself but supposedly, real-time file collaboration is now available with Google Docs. Some other free-to-use, online collaboration applications that have been around for awhile are, Zoho and ThinkFree. And Google now has Google Sites that allow two or more people to put together a very simple Web page.

Using Dropbox to work on files together with others is as easy as using Dropbox to share photos with Grandma. (See the text above, below the heading - Collaborating on Projects Using Dropbox) Just move the files you want to work on inside a new folder in Dropbox and share that folder with a friend or colleague who is also a Dropbox user. Any changes he/she makes to the files in that folder will almost instantly appear. What could be more simple. Unlike with Google Wave and most other cloud collaboration apps, there isn't much of a learning curve involved with using Dropbox. Dropbox just works, every time, exactly the way you would expect it to.

Dropbox Wins Another Crunchie

Dropbox Wins Another Crunchie

Dropbox Wins Another Crunchie

What is a Crunchie? Crunchies are to the Tech world what Oscars are to films and actors. The Crunchies are an annual award presented on the first week on January to recognize the most exciting technology innovations of the previous year. The Crunchies are hosted by GigaOm, VentureBeat, Silicon Alley Insider and TechCrunch. (Crunchies TechCrunch, get it?) In 2008 Dropbox won a Crunchie for being runner-up to FriendFeed for Best New Startup. This year Dropbox won a Crunchie for Best Internet Application. Congratulations Dropbox!

So how much space is Dropbox going to give you for free? You'll get 2 GB's of space on Dropbox's servers and it won't cost you a dime. If later you decide you need more space, the price you'll have to pay is very reasonable. But if you're like me, you'll probably never need more space than what Dropbox offers for free

Doncha think you need to grab your own copy of this award winning software? Well here's a link to the Dropbox download and install page.

Dropbox Update - February 3, 2010

Go Mobile with Dropbox

Access Dropbox with your phone or iPod.

You can now use your phone or mobile device's browser to access your Dropbox account. You can go to Dropbox's mobile website at If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can download and use the Dropbox App to access all the files in your Dropbox account. Now that's cool and it's free. Here's a link to the iPhone and iPod Dropbox App. And if that link doesn't work try this iPod Dropbox App link.

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