Syncing and sharing files with Dropbox
As a Web designer I am always looking for convenient ways to share large files between myself, collaborators and clients. I’ve tried several different methods: FTPs; drops like Drop.io; folder-sharing services like Windows Live Sync, and a plethor Cheap Pandora Jewelry any future greatest a of file share startups like sendspace, 4shared, Lime Wire.
And while they all work (most of them anyway) decent enough, none of them blew me away as a real solution for my file sharing needs. Then I was introduced to Dropbox. The free service offers a rather liberal helping of 2GB of storage, with it easily bumped up to 5GB through referring friends. If 2-5GB isn’t enough space, a premium service of 50GB of space can be got for $10 bucks a month (which, is comparable to Mac’s iDisk, but 30GB tastier).Dropbox’s simple interface and slick OS integration make it brilliant to use. After downloading and installing the cross-platform software a Dropbox icon appears in your tray which you can use to quickly open the local Dropbox folder on your computer, or launch it in Web browser mode.
The beauty of Dropbox is that it syncs in the background. So, for example, if I copy “familyphoto.jpg” (or an entire folder of photos) to my local Dropbox folde Pandora Glass Beads ‘ slowest r (Explorer in Windows and Finder on Mac) it will automatically begin syncing with the Web storage. Then, booting up another computer I have Dropbox installed on, the folder begins syncing (downloading) the new files.
It’s a fantastic way to share folders and files between two computers (in my case my Dell desktop and MacBook), but its usefulness compounds with the ability to share specific folders with other Dropbox members, or non-members by way of public folders.Sharing a folder with specific Dropbox users — say a client who needs to review some large files, a colleague you want to collaborate with, or (as in my case) a bunch of buddies who want to pool their guitar tabs) — is dead easy. Simply right-click on the folder in Explorer/Finder and scroll down to the “Dropbox” submenu, choose “Sharing Options” and you’ll be brought to your Dropbox Web Interface.
Click the image to the right to expand the screenshot. The Web Interface breaks things down in a simple and straightforward management UI. (1) A list of the files in the current folder you are viewing. Everything is Ajax-ifed for easy drag and drop functionality. (2) Recent Event notifications allow you to quickly see what things have changed – ie. if someone uploaded some new files to a shared folder. (3) A to-the-point info box gives you folder information on how much space a folder is taking up and how many members are sharing it. (4) An auto-fill box makes it easy to invite members to share a folder. (5) A list of the members sharing the current folder.
Dropbox also tackles the fact that not everybody you want to share files with is going to want to signup for an account. By allowing you to send them a direct link (via e-mail, IM or whatever) to a file you’ve put in one of your “Public” bins, you’ll be able to share files with anyone you want.
What’s more, Dropbox (for the moment at least) is sweet on speed. Being that I live in Asia, this is always a problem for me, as the majority of file sharing services I’ve used in the past are deadly slow here and simply time out with large files. I’ve yet to incounter any similar problem with Dropbox, and that all downloading/syncing happens in the background makes it all the more seamless.
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