Earlier this month cloud storage startup Dropbox celebrated its first anniversary, and has now hit another milestone with its two millionth user. Dropbox is a solid example of how the cloud can bring efficiencies in this modern ultra-connected world. It's also a service that has genuinely changed my life for the better. Dropbox is, in a nutshell, a dedicated folder which automatically synchronises between all your Windows, Linux or Macintosh-based computers. Web access is also available and an iPhone client has now been released on the iTunes appstore too.
Dropbox is superb for keeping data in sync while working among laptops, desktops, netbooks, smartphones and across office and home computers.
The power of Dropbox is in its simplicity. It performs one task and does it well. Dropbox doesn't purport to convert files between different formats, serve up web sites or any other non-core feature. It doesn't intrude in the ordinary running of your computer.
It merely provides a regular old folder that you can drag-and-drop files into with one key difference; files you drop will be swiftly copied to the Dropbox cloud-based file storage and then becomes available to your other systems.
Using Dropbox only makes sense. For me, it's proven invaluable to keep my important current projects accessible whether I'm working in Windows or Linux without having to worry about USB sticks and inadvertently overwriting newer files with old. Importantly, this also means my files are backed up and safe from disaster.
Dropbox uses Amazon.Com's simple storage service (more commonly known as S3) for its storage meaning your data is stored on a massive, trustworthy facility.
Dropbox allows collaboration between users, permitting sub-folders to be shared. Depending on the size of your files and available bandwidth changes can be shared almost immediately.
Clever users have twigged that they can configure key files for important pieces of software within their Dropbox folder, for instance, your FireFox bookmarks, or a password and identity repository if you use such tools.
Corporations can also find value in Dropbox although, to my mind, what's lacking is a dedicated group space where the administrator can divvy up folders to specific users.
Such a facility would then make it a cinch to backup the data that amasses on laptops of travelling staff back to a central server, which may then still be backed up to tape or disk in a conventional manner. So long as the travelling staff connect to the Internet at some point, somehow, their files will be safe.
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