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June 1, 2011

Dropbox – A Real Good Program for File Sharing and Accessing Files Away From Your Computer

Have you ever wanted to share files with someone without emailing them? Have you ever needed to access a file and you are not by your computer? Then Dropbox is for you. Per Wikipedia, “The Dropbox client enables users to drop any file into a designated folder that is then synced to the cloud and to any other of the user's computers and devices with the Dropbox client.”

While Google Docs is a way to share and store files offline, it is not as good as Dropbox. 3 reasons:
1. Using Dropbox allows you to upload by folder which at this point in time you cannot do using Google Docs. With Google Docs, you can only upload files. You have to set up a folder in Google Docs and move the files to that folder after you upload. With Dropbox, you can drag the folder into Dropbox and the folder and contents are uploaded.
2. You can set up more than 1 computer to have access to selected files. When you use the files and update, they are automatically uploaded on any other computer linked to your Dropbox account. You do not need to use a USB drive to transfer files or email a file to yourself.
3. Dropbox offers up to 2GB free storage. With Google Docs you are limited to 1GB of free storage.

Let’s discuss the 1st advantage. When you use Google Docs you can only upload files. You cannot upload a folder but rather the files in a folder. In Google Docs you upload the files in the folder, individually or collectively. What this means is that in Google Docs you need to create a folder name. Then in Google Docs you move the files to the folder selected. In Dropbox you simply upload the folder which would include all the files in the folder. A step saved.

I also like the time saver of the 2nd advantage. My wife and I have both a laptop and a desktop. When we travel, frequently our travel notes are written on the desktop. Prior to our trip we use a USB drive to transfer our travel notes to our laptop. Now that we have Dropbox and both computers are linked to the Dropbox account this is automatic. No USB drive needed here. That said, in order for the file to sync in Dropbox the file cannot be opened. While you are using the file, it cannot be synced to the Dropbox website or any other computer. Only files in the Dropbox folder are synced. If you do not want to share a file and/or folder you don't put it in the Dropbox folder. You save time in that you do not have to email files to yourself. You also do not need a USB drive to transfer files from 1 computer to another. This also has the advantage of backing up files on both another computer and on the Dropbox website. Don’t have another computer? Well like Google Docs, you can access the file from another computer by going to Dropbox on the web. If you want to share a file with others, you send an email allowing access to the file you wish to share.

The last advantage is academic. 2GB of free storage vs 1GB of free storage.

All in all, Dropbox is not only a good way of storing and accessing files online. It is also a better way of doing it than using Google Docs. Try it. You will find that you have some extra time on your hands for other things to do.